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Selling Naturally Always Produces Success, that is! At Onstage Publications our program book selling system that we’ve developed over the years allows our program book sales reps to be natural in their conversation but well informed to educate their prospects on the benefits of program book advertising for their business.

When calling new prospects and renewal advertisers, make sure you follow this simple process on each and every call and you’ll be on the road to success.

1. The Approach:

New Prospects – introduce yourself on behalf of your organization and ask for the decision maker. Typically this will be the person in charge of marketing or the business owner. Once in touch with the decision maker, introduce yourself and explain why you’re calling. You are calling because your venue is getting ready for the new season program books and you thought their business might be a good fit and that you would like to find out a little more about their business to see if indeed it is a match for marketing their product or services to your audience. This will garner you instant rapport and respect—how many times have you been called on by a sales person and they instantly go into their product pitch when they don’t even know what you do?

Once you’ve established a rapport, you should be well on your way into fact-finding. This is where you’re finding out about their business so that you can eventually spec up an ad to show them on your follow-up call. End the call by asking them, “If you wouldn’t mind, would it be ok to take some of this information and put an ad together?” At Onstage Publications we do this for the customer at no charge and no obligation to them.

Renewals – thank your contact for last year’s advertising. Let them know that your venue is getting ready for the upcoming season and go over the highlights of the new season. Ask if anything has changed within their business that would need to be communicated in their program book advertising for the new season. Mention any advertising upgrade discounts (if any) and email them the new advertising agreement along with the ad copy sheet with any pertinent changes discussed.

Enter all the information that you’ve gotten in either of the above scenarios into your CRM system and schedule the follow-up call.

2. The Follow-Up:

New Prospects – Before following up with your prospect, be aware of any premium positions that may still be available in the program book.

Be prepared to discuss the demographic of the performing arts audience and the distribution/readership for the season, then present the ad that your graphic arts department spec’d up for their business. Sell them on the features and benefits of performing arts program book advertising and tell them how many program books will be printed for the season and the expected readership.

Renewals – If you have not received back the signed program book advertising agreement and ad copy sheet, you’re going to have to follow up with your contact to gently nudge them. Worst case scenario, they may have changed their mind, in which case, you’re going to have to re-sell the features and benefits of performing arts program book advertising (see handle objections below.)

If no objections, ask when you may be able to expect the signed agreement back and document it in your CRM system. You want to keep the “train” moving on your renewals, otherwise you will never know where you stand in your sales canvas. You will need to follow up with these accounts until you get the signed agreement back.

3. Make Recommendations

New Prospects – If you followed steps 1 and 2, you have earned the right to make a recommendation about the size of the ad they should have in the program book. At this point, quote the rate and ask for the order.

4. Handle Objections

New Prospects – Obviously selling new prospects on the feature and benefits is going to be your biggest hurdle because program book advertising is unproven to them. So you need to flush out why they’re hesitant on purchasing a program book ad. After they tell you no, the easiest way to flush this out is to simply say “I’m surprised, may I ask why?”

You want to isolate all the objections at this point so that you are able to use your tools to overcome anything they throw at you. To do this, simply paraphrase their objection. For example “In addition to the cost, is there any other reason?”

You will then need to be ready to overcome any objection(s) they have. The biggest objections you will hear are cost and usage objections. So, for example, if they tell you it’s a cost issue, to keep the conversation flowing, you will want to say “so if I understand you correctly, you don’t feel that the ad will pay for itself?” By saying this, you will now be set up to show them how the ad will pay for itself using your sales aids. The best sales aid for this will be your cost calculator or any other sales aids you may have on overcoming cost objections.

After overcoming their objection, once again, ask for the order. If you’ve done your job well, the next step will be to send out the advertising agreement and ad copy sheet to close the sale.

And there you go – program book advertising sales does not have to be hard as long as you have some sort of system to follow. But most importantly, you will want to practice it – practice makes perfect. Good selling!