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Integrity trumps incidence, especially in sales

Successful advertising sales efforts begin with believing in the quality of what you sell. A newspaper's advertising sales force have to not only communicate the newspaper's benefits but believe it as well.

15 January 2009 | Mike Blinder | Ideas Magazine | advertising sales presentations

A few years ago, Tom Rosenstiel, a former media critic for the Los Angeles Times and MSNBC, was quoted saying that "the age of trust-me journalism is over." He was commenting, of course, on the sudden rise of the blogosphere where everyone with access to a laptop and the internet can become a news pundit, feeding off the incessant rumour mill and in turn feeding into it. Established media outlets long revered for their integrity were being challenged by a new generation of upstarts with unparalleled reach and uneven credibility.

This didn't bother me then, and it bothers me even less now. I am convinced that readers and viewers will always go "B2B," back to basics, and have even greater respect for the experience and resources on which traditional media is based - especially as media access increases.

Reputation and quality still trump popularity; integrity still trumps incidence. I think they always will.

The same is true of sales. The successful salesperson is someone with experience and resources, and most of all it is someone committed to the product's reputation and quality. Motivational speakers repeat the mantra, "Believe in yourself." Motivational salespeople revise the mantra to "Believe in what you are selling" (though it certainly helps to believe in yourself, too).

Unfortunately, some salespeople continue to claim that a belief that one's products and services are "the best things out there" is not the sine qua non of sales. It is enough, they argue, to be convinced that what they offer will create value that exceeds the cost to the customer.

Nothing can be further from the truth. You may as well try convincing someone to buy one book and not the other because it has more words! That is peddling, not selling.

One of the key techniques I preach in sales training is the "Wow! Statement," a brief, carefully worded phrase about exactly what you do, which is usually used in the prospecting phase of the sales process. It's called a "Wow! Statement," not only because it wows the pants off your prospect, but also because, if you listen to it closely, it will wow the pants off of you, the salesperson. It must, because our customers are savvy enough to know if we truly believe in our product. As I write in my book "you are not that good of an actor. If you don't believe, the customer will never believe!"

In media sales this means that we must be convinced of the intrinsic value of the media we sell. We must be committed to its integrity because integrity always trumps incidence, especially in media sales.

This leaves me to ask: what do you, the sales manager, do each and every day to bolster this belief among your sales team? Are you constantly reaffirming the product, its integrity, its growing readership (thanks to its online assets), and the results we garner each and every day? Why not add a new "bullet" to your job description: "Company Evangelist." In challenging times, salespeople look to leadership for the attitude they take to the street each day. Do you have a "Wow Statement?"

Author/Contact: Mike Blinder is president of The Blinder Group, a sales training firm with over 350 media clients worldwide. He can be contacted via e-mail at, on the web at, or via telephone at +1 917-865-4827.


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