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Advertising sales rule #1: It's a numbers game

The simple rule of advertising sales is that the more calls representatives make, the more sales they make. Tracking and managing those numbers effectively can improve representatives' chances for success.

8 July 2009 | Mike Blinder | Ideas Magazine | advertising : management

One of the basic tenants we all know, but may not be adopting each day within our organisation is: "Sales is simply a numbers game." We all know this to be true. The more calls we make, the more likely we are to make sales. A method I have been using for years has helped me not only prove this concept, but more importantly, manage the "numbers" more effectively.

A simple method you can adopt is develop a chart or spreadsheet with the following criterion. First, establish an average for the amount of dollars your "outside representatives" bring in for a typical single sale. Next, estimate the amount of appointments with advertisers each representative makes in a given day, including prospecting, servicing, and closing calls. After that, figure out an average percentage of all those calls that incorporate an actual sales call. Or, in other words, what is the average number of all the calls your representatives make in a given day, where they are actually trying to close business. Then, figure out an average "closing ratio" for the sales representative, based on the percentage of attempts to close business to successes.

If you have no idea of what the above numbers actually are for your sales team, you are lacking critical, necessary information that you need in order to effectively manage and coach each individual representative. In order to gain this information, you should require daily call sheets from each outside representative, requiring them to report on every daily call and what they were doing on the call (prospecting, servicing, closing new business, etc.). The system I used in daily sales management required these sheets to be turned in daily, with a weekly review built for each representative. This "review sheet" is a simple spreadsheet that maps their entire week, breaking down their productivity into actual percentages, so the sales coach can see how this representative is allocating their time.

Please keep in mind that a number of functions can be performed while a representative is on a single call. A representative can perform a prospecting/ascertainment call while stopping by to pick up ad copy. Or even close new business based on a previous call's ascertainment as well. The key is accountability. Once this sheet is developed, the coach should quiz the representative on each advertiser called on that week to make sure that a proper ascertainment was performed and proper ideas were "pitched", based on an advertiser's needs.

Once the sheet is reviewed, a coach can see where the representative may need more training or some extra help. For example, if the representative shows a high percentage of service calls with a low percentage of prospecting in a given week, they can be coached to perform better ascertainments while in front of each advertiser. If the weekly review reveals that there is a high percentage of dollars being asked for with little results achieved, then this sales representative needs to hone their closing skills. Not enough calls being made, means that this representative is basically spending too much time "off the road" and may need a "kick in the fanny" to get out on the street more. Once again, simply e-mail me requesting the example "Accountability Sheet" I developed, and see if this may work for you.

Now finally, once you have this system in place, the phrase "sales is a numbers game" will mean a whole lot more to you when you can see actual numbers that pertain to your representatives productivity. By the way, making one master sheet for the entire department will reveal to senior management the effectiveness of the entire sales department (as well as the managers/coaches in charge).

In my opinion, having information at your disposal that reveals the productivity of each sales call, makes more sense that just kicking them out the door each morning in hopes that sales are made. It will require a bit more work on your end and require daily call sheets from your representatives. However, I promise you if this system is put in place effectively, you'll have more accountability, resulting in more sales.

Click here for an excerpt of my presentation at INMA's World Congress 2009 in Miami:

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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