Top Sales Consultant Recommends Combining Knowledge and Instinct

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In her excellent list of five things we need to do to change our sales conversations and sell more, Leslie Laredo (pictured), president of the Academy of Digital Media, urged preparation.

"Preparation means anticipating objections," she told her audience at our Business Information & Media Summit in November. "Because when you want people to do something different, you actually know you're going to get pushback. So part of the preparation is, 'What are they going to say to me that might push this back?' or, [what if they say] 'It's not going to work for me?'" How would you respond?

Laredo said you need to have your "ask" ready. How are you going to advance this conversation? We heard similar advice from Christina Karabetsos, executive vice president of QCSS, last year. "Handle rejections or objections with clarity," she said. "You will most often be met with a 'no' or hesitation. Be prepared for this! If the prospect doesn't give you a reason why, ask! Attempt a minimum of one rebuttal on every call."

Here are Laredo's five ways to use insight selling to be more successful:

  1. Show curiosity about your client's business. "When people call on me to sell me media, and they're not curious about the training business, it kind of sets me off," she said. "'I want you to really think about my business, about my customers' journey and what it takes to get the decision to buy my product.' I hope your sales people are starting to do that, to show some curiosity."
     
  2. Then have questions around that. These should be questions that will help you understand their problems and clarify or confirm any assumptions you have of what they know. "I can tell," Laredo said, "if the sales person has done their homework vs. if they've never been to my website. The most important questions are the 'what ifs.' What if it was different?" For Laredo it might be, "What if we could ensure that you could fill a room?" "Could you help me do that?" she asked as in a conversation. "What-if questions can really get people to think differently about what you're trying to achieve with them."
     
  3. Show creativity. "How do we create a vision of what your client wants to see?" Laredo asked. "That's the emotional part. Build a story. 'Here's the vision of how we see our media applying to all the steps someone takes to make a decision about your product.' If our media can intersect with the decision touch points along the way, the people you're reaching will probably make a more positive or quicker choice to work with you." It's about having the ability to demonstrate your resourcefulness, she added.
     
  4. Be prepared. "What's the last question that you want to leave your client with so they're going to move forward?" Laredo asked. "It's really interesting how many people haven't prepared enough to know that question." You want to be led to the next level. She also urged sales people to search online for case studies, especially on SlideShare. "Clients [or possible customers] might post case studies," she said. "I was working with some Conde Nast people for [a presentation] to Ralph Lauren. A marketing plan for Ralph Lauren shows up on SlideShare. Wow, what a huge pocket of insights!" You can also look to competitors to get insights as well.
     
  5. Use your intuition/instinct. "This last part really intrigues me," Laredo said. "I recently read a book called The Intuitive Compass, about intuition—our emotional brain. My gut tells me this, I know in my heart... Usually [going by the gut] is the right thing to do, but it's hard to train for. Steve Jobs said intuition is more powerful than intellect. Your team might say, 'I have a gut feeling about this client.' 'If your gut says that, then let's try it.' Have instinct."
You can listen to Laredo's insightful presentation and/or look at her slides on our BIMS site under Digital Advertising Sales - Change the Conversation. 

Ronn Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…

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