Wednesday, June 3, 2020


All objections boil down to "I'm not sold."

They have to see the value whether we're selling advertising or couches. And value is a bit different for everyone.

I'm not sold. You can see the buyer, arms crossed, considering the sales pitch he just heard and not moving forward. Why? Look at all these features! And the lights or the plush upholstery, we say, piling on. He's not leaving so we still have a chance. Though clearly these do not have enough value to him. But wait, there's more!

Our job as salespeople is to clear them up and clear them out. Make the value clear for the buyer to see.

Do they want more features? Almost never.
Maybe easier payments? Possibly.

Some do and some don't. The secret is that value to each buyer is different from the last buyer. And it's up to us to find out what this buyer values.

I have agencies who want value-added which means free ads added onto their contract. They will not argue with me about the $60 rate but they will argue with me about how many FREE ads they get. They don't see the value of the audience: they only value winning the argument. Other clients are looking to me for fresh ideas and expect me to come up with their whole campaign. Others think I'm insulting them when I offer suggestions on revising messaging to fit our audience.

The objection they put up before committing tells you a lot about who they are and what they value in this transaction.

It's easy to feel stymied when an objection comes your way in a sales presentation. Objections are really our friends. They tell us salespeople what keys will work in this lock. And they're not always logical.

"It's too expensive" --> "Too expensive compared to what?" They are telling you they did not think what you offered (in my case, audience, or in other cases, cars or consulting services) created enough value for the dollars. Break it down by smaller units or sometimes it even works to compare the return on their investment to the cost of their own products they are selling customers. One restaurant complained about $15 ads and I pointed out he has a $15 hamburger on his menu. We agreed if the 100 ads brought in 100 new customers he would buy another set of ads. He had the biggest month to date after starting and happily bought more ads the next month. Get to that underlying point of comparison and bring them over to your point of comparison.

"It's too much commitment" --> This is someone who lacks confidence in their future. Point out the ways they have flexibility in that, point out the benefits of booking now or the costs of booking on short-term agreements (those should always be more expensive, BTW). But the underlying issue here is that this client doesn't know what the future will bring. Look for ways to either help them them build that moat or steady supply of customers, or look for someone above them. I get this a lot with middle managers who really don't have as much approval power as they said they did.

Add objections you've heard in the comments below and we'll workshop them. The objection they say is rarely the objection they are feeling.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

In Praise of Resisting Ideas

Workshopping new writing is exciting. I was thrilled to share my first piece recently with my writers' workshop and a few friends. But, from that, I gained some insight into why writers isolate themselves and protect their stories before they are done.

I put my story out there. I dared to share it before it was fully baked, and then my story stopped being my own.

They were not into all the things I had been thinking about and worrying over. Naively, I expected my early readers to help me evaluate if my characters felt real or seemed consistent throughout the story. I wanted them to be analytical about story structure. I had debated mightily over transitions and dialog and descriptions, and I wanted very much to know if others cared about them as much as I did or felt any kind of connection with what I created.

Generally, the comments were warm and supportive. I enjoyed where others picked up on a joke or appreciated a specific line. A few were insightful and pointed out inconsistencies that were helpful. I might have hoped for more depth, but I received enough encouragement to have more confidence in my story. It's the most you could expect, and I'm grateful.

But, there were two comments out of the two dozen that rankled me, and now I can't un-hear them. I find myself wishing that I hadn't gotten any comments if it meant I could have avoided these two.

One suggested that...

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Themes of Trust and Loss

We lost our cat in September.

She was a sweet kitty but deeply damaged. She couldn't fully trust us so when she got out, we didn't have the tools that connect beings to one another so we could attract her back to us. She had no name. Wouldn't allow a collar on. We couldn't hold her long enough to get her to a vet for appropriate shots or a chip.

Instead, we operated a two-state system where she cautiously joined us at family-time but reserved the right to run away at any moment. Of our part, we tip-toed into attempts to connect with her knowing we might get our hands scratched or not see her again for three days. She could not trust. And we didn't know how to operate without it.

The trust we wanted her to take from us was inflated and unreasonable given who she was. I understood she had been through some trauma and wanted so keenly to help her. It turns out I wanted to feel good by helping her. There was a basic misunderstanding on my part. I couldn't have

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Winner Winner! NaNoWriMo Dinner!

I took up fiction writing this Fall and had a very validating experience writing within the NaNoWriMo program in November.

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) tells me they are "a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing." And it offered just enough structure and support to be encouraging, with very few restrictions to keep me from doing the work.

I trained as a journalist in college because even though I was always a solid writer in school, the creative projects filled me with fear. I chose journalism because it came with a comforting collection of rules: a specific assignment, length or word count, audience, style guides. There was always an editor who would call me out for going in the wrong direction.

In broadcast, I had to write for the specific anchor or announcer to read it properly; some people love alliteration and others will try to have you fired for making them look dumb on air. So there's always a filter, a ninja course to run through.

I thrived when I had to write within specific formats and under deadlines. I would discover ways to be clever with a headline or a turn of a phrase, specific word counts or space limitations. I then used the rules from one format to quickly adapt to others: from broadcast to social media to sales manuals.

The idea of a big, white piece of paper glaring at me and demanding creativity from me has always been too inhibiting. I was intimidated as a writer by the lawlessness of fiction ...

Friday, February 2, 2018

Why is happiness so elusive?

I have everything modern society has promised us short of a flying car. I have a strong, conscious marriage, a healthy child who has access to ideas and mentors, clean air, technology to reduce labors and increase entertainment. I'm well-educated and free to move about, and express my opinions. We have plenty of income, few debts, no crippling diseases or unfortunate habits. I have skills that are valuable and no significant moral dilemmas.

But a cloud remains. I can't seem to shake these persistent demons that simply ruin everything.

The source of un-happiness seems to come packed in four main boxes.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Come ON clients! Sales reps are people, too! Be decent to each other.

I sell advertising for a living. It's great on many days, good for many more days, but those bad days can be downright demoralizing. The reason is consistently because our clients and prospects think it is OK to lie to us.  

Some salespeople are annoying. And some of us--like me--are trying to help your business grow. But we're all people at the end of the day. This might be news, but salespeople have feelings, too. 
Here are a few things salespeople wish our clients and our prospects would not do because it's simply bad for business.

You may not always know what's going on, and it's ok to tell us. 

Don't make something up. Don't ignore our calls and emails until you have an answer. Just be honest.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Sometimes Good Communications Policy Includes NOT Communicating Publicly

I have the privilege of working with a hard-working, gregarious, passionate board member who ended up in a public fight with a belligerent social media poster. That poster said some things that were out of left field, "on his agenda" as they might say if we were in Washington. My fellow board member responded. Before I even finished my coffee, there were 14 responses within an hour on our group's social media page.

When I took it down, I heard from the involved parties that I was in the wrong.

Here's why I would make that same communications decision again:
  • IMAGE MATTERS: The best image for the organization is to be well-dressed and presentable in public. It is our group's page and even when we as a group come down on one side of an issue, we should always present it in a positive way. 
  • BE AUDIENCE-APPROPRIATE: If we were the ACLU, for example, and known to be controversial, I might have a wider definition of what is appropriate. But we're a group gathered to support kids. We want those kids to get along and become positive members of our community. Those kids will likely see this page. We have an example to set.

Monday, June 12, 2017


Are for-profit managers always a risky hire for non-profits
or can for-profit experience benefit smart non-profits?
Non-profits and for-profits serve different purposes in our economic ecosystem.

But those differences don't preclude a healthy exchange of ideas. Hiring from the other sector can be really smart to cross-pollenate ideas and best practices.

Some still worry taking on a manager from the for-profit world is akin to inviting a wolf into your flock.

Let's take a look at what problems to expect and how to mitigating risks of culture-clash through good communication.

Pro for hiring a for-profit manager into a non-profit organization:

  • The manager has skills developed in tough, cost-centered environments. Costs stay low and top of mind so maximum revenue can be delivered to the mission.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

5 Tips for Staying Motivated in Selling

Selling is hard. It doesn't always come naturally. You're expected to be fresh and upbeat and full of ideas at all times but can end up being someone's punching bag on a lot of days.

The emotional strain from one client can easily spill over into another client interaction.  But because that second client doesn't know how bad your earlier meeting was, and because buyers can just *smell* it on you when you're feeling desperate, it's in your best interest to find ways to put that behind you.

Here are 5 little tips to stay motivated:

1.    Focus on your activities: Only you can control your actions, and you usually can’t control the outcome. If you are making 10 prospect calls per day and sitting down in real meetings with clients 3-4 times per day and asking questions about their business, qualifying them, you will make progress.

If you’re doing those things and not getting sales, then you know

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Is marketing for non-profit different than regular marketing?

Show your heart in all promotions - connect with emotion.
The tax rules are different for non-profits than for regular businesses, so should advertising rules be different?

Yes and no.

I have written ads and event invitations and info sheets for both for-profit and non-profit organizations. Both groups think they are special and distinct. both think they don't want to be in the same category as the other. But it turns out that the element that is most critical for successful messaging tells me the messages should be more similar.

--> Yes, marketing a non-profit is very different:

  • Your media options are more affordable.

    Most, if not all, media outlets want to be seen in a positive light and have non-profit rates.