I Sold My Skills--Now How Do I Sell Ads?
(FORTUNE Magazine) – Dear Annie: I was out of work for eight months after a layoff, and now my brother-in-law (who owns a small chain of community newspapers) has offered me a job as an advertising sales rep. I've never done sales before. Can you recommend any good books on how to sell stuff? --No Huckster
Dear N.H.: However serendipitously, you're making a smart career move here. Lots of studies over the years have shown that, even in recessions, experienced salespeople are always in demand. And how to sell stuff, as you put it, is a perennially hot topic. Amazon.com lists 69,309 books on the subject. Yikes!
One good place to start, my friends in ad sales tell me, is The Instant Sales Pro: More Than 600 Tips and Techniques to Accelerate Your Sales Success (Amacom, $17.95), by Cy Charney. It's a crash course in cold-calling, closing, managing client relationships, and surviving office politics. The author starts by quoting Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton: "There is only one boss: the customer. And he can fire everybody in the company, from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else."
A sampling of Charney's down-to-earth counsel: When dealing with an angry customer, "never use the word 'but.' It indicates denial and an inability to understand the issue from the customer's perspective." Similarly, "whenever you have an unsuccessful meeting, determine which of your customer's needs you neglected the most." Then try to do better next time.
Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Annie offers advice weekly at www.askannie.com.