I want you to beg me to take your money.
January 12, 2009 9:22 AM   Subscribe

I walk into your store with a suit and a desire to sell you online ad space. What can I do to guarantee myself success? I want to give you the feeling that if you don't buy now, you'll never get the chance again.

Would you require a sense of urgency? Unlimited information and statistics? What would win you over?

Let's say the ad space was a one off thing priced at around $150.

What can I do to guarantee or make the sale very palatable to the business owner?

Any tips are appreciated!

Note: I know my question sounds a little lack-luster and has the genetic makeup of an overnight swindle, but I ensure you, months and months of work and preparation have brought me to the point where I can finally sell ads.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (30 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I suppose an attractive template that showed exactly what I was going to get for my money would help.
posted by bonobothegreat at 9:36 AM on January 12, 2009

I would want to see some sort of proof that you are getting a lot of traffic, or that it is steadily increasing.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 9:39 AM on January 12, 2009

Numbers would help, especially positive numbers that show me what I'm paying for. You would also have to assume that I don't know anything about online ad space, so you'd need to be prepared to tell me what those numbers mean for my business and what benefit that provides that I couldn't get offline.
posted by katillathehun at 9:39 AM on January 12, 2009

Statistics and Data that I can validate in some manner...

That said, my response to ANY salesperson that rushes a decision is automatically "no"... I stop trusting them at that point.
posted by HuronBob at 9:39 AM on January 12, 2009 [2 favorites]

Here's a tip: give them a choice of 3 different sized ad spaces, with the middle one being the one you really want to sell. Given a choice of just yes or no, many people will say no. There's a chapter in the book "How to sell a lobster" that explains this.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 9:41 AM on January 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'd like to speak with satisfied customers. Or, at minimum, I'd like to see testimonials from them.
posted by box at 9:41 AM on January 12, 2009

I would want a pretty cogent argument demonstrating that your traffic a) overlaps with my clientele and b) takes action based on the ads they view on your site.

Regarding a sense of urgency, tie that to the availability of an obviously limited commodity, like banner space or the top right corner or whatever, not just urgency for its own sake. The latter is the hallmark of an enterprise that can not withstand scrutiny and so is a turn-off.
posted by carmicha at 9:43 AM on January 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

You'd probably do well to have a feel for how the business already markets itself, and then to be able to explain how adding online ads to that marketing program would enhance what they are currently doing.
posted by padraigin at 9:50 AM on January 12, 2009

Money-back guarantee.
posted by rhizome at 9:56 AM on January 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

If I were a local business owner, I wouldn't give a damn that you have a million hits a month unless a significant percentage of them represented people who might conceivably give me their custom, i.e. are located within a convenient drive from my establishment. So unless you've got stats on traffic location, not just traffic volume, nothing you can possibly say would convince me to buy from you. I'd want to see a few thousand hits a month at the very least.

Even then, unless I already have an online presence, I doubt I'd be all that interested.

Target your pitches. Walking into fifty companies who won't possibly buy from you makes far less sense than walking into five that might.
posted by valkyryn at 9:56 AM on January 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

Anyone who gives me a "buy right now or else" offer guarantees that I will not buy it now or later, will not buy anything in that place again, and will steer people away from them. I am not unique in this, so be aware that if you are too overt with the "now or never", you will seriously turn off some clients.

If you do want to appeal to me, you ought to have specific numbers which will be useful to me, as well as an explanation of how you see my business being helped by your online ad campaign. What do I do that is different? What do you do that is different? If you want fast results, you need to have done a lot of homework before you knock.
posted by jeather at 9:58 AM on January 12, 2009 [5 favorites]

To add to some of the sentiments above, I'd want some actual credentials, as someone could make a tidy profit pretending to represent an ad company but would vanish overnight after taking the money. I do agree with the points about what would guarantee local targeting, as the Internet is notoriously nonlocal. Some of those sleazy "looking for a hot lay in [your city]" banners, I have to concede, are a step in the right direction.
posted by crapmatic at 10:04 AM on January 12, 2009

I want to give you the feeling that if you don't buy now, you'll never get the chance again.

To do that, you'd have to clarify why the window is so small. Tie your product to some temporal event. Ads are always available but Superbowl ads, for example, are rare and valuable because the Superbowl is a once-a-year event (that also happens to draw huge viewership).

That said, the general approach you describe is a major turn-off to me. I would almost certainly cut you off and send you on your way within 15 seconds.
posted by jon1270 at 10:13 AM on January 12, 2009 [2 favorites]

I'd need to know that the offering was unique and hot enough that it would be worth my investment - not just how many eyeballs are expected to flick past the ad, but why people would be compelled to carry over their time on your page to my own.
posted by batmonkey at 10:14 AM on January 12, 2009

I want to give you the feeling that if you don't buy now, you'll never get the chance again.

Your whole business plan is based on a false premise, anyone with half a brain is going to see right through that.

That said, the only (ethical) way you can build urgency is to stress the fact that a business is loosing money every day that they don't have your product or service. And the way you illustrate that is by providing meaningful data and case studies. For example you can say, "Business X started using or product and within a week saw a rise in sales of X%." You can then stress that the ad pays for itself in just a few days, weeks, or whatever.
posted by wfrgms at 10:16 AM on January 12, 2009 [3 favorites]

Documented results. If you can show him that the store across the street saw a $500 increase in monthly sales after spending $50 a month with you, you'll be in good shape. Even then, most companies won't buy.
posted by COD at 10:19 AM on January 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

on non-preview: I'm with those who say your described approach would produce zero trust or confidence in even listening to what you've got, so maybe temper that a bit?
posted by batmonkey at 10:25 AM on January 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

I worked in a small (3 people) Real Estate office where we had walk in salesman like this. We'd never buy from a walk-in. Maybe if you could send a mailer, then an email, then a phone call to set an appointment, we'd take you seriously.... otherwise good luck.

We used to mess with these guys sometimes too when biz was slow. The owner would be letting the guy give his pitch for doormats (where you do a service that swaps them and brings in clean every so often). I went over and said "hey I'm going to Sam's Club, do you need anything other than new door mats?" the owner said "no, let's not get those, let's get a vacuum instead!"
posted by thilmony at 10:30 AM on January 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

I think any business owner is going to be rightly reluctant to buy online online advertising that is being sold door-to-door. You're using what is literally the least technological ways of advertising to sell of the most high-tech ways of advertising, and you seem further determined to use the most alienating method of sales on top of this. Doing what you're doing seems like a guaranteed way to permanently antagonize prospective customers.

I would suggest you instead start with businesses you frequent regularly. Befriend the staff, and during one of your normal visits mention you are getting into advertising. Offer your services at break-even rates, and after you've built up a reputation for quality and have had some ads that seem to actually get noticed in your community, begin offering your services online with testimonials or endorsements. If it is at all possible, offer some basic web services besides advertising, even if it just helping them host a menu online.

This isn't the kind of business you're going to be able to build up quickly.
posted by Benjy at 10:52 AM on January 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

I've worked in retail, and occasionally dealt with drop-in salesmen. In general, I was highly skeptical. In your case, I would be unpersuadably negative. If someone is trying to pressure me into acting now because I won't be able to buy online ad space tomorrow, he is obviously not credible. Google ad words will still be around tomorrow. Doubleclick will still be around tomorrow. And in any case, most businesses you walk into are more dependent on local advertising and just plain street visibility than web advertising, so I'd be highly skeptical of the whole notion in the first place.
posted by adamrice at 11:00 AM on January 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm admittedly not in the market for online ad space, but generally speaking, any time I feel a sense of urgency to make a decision about any purchase, when I'm getting a "now or never" sales pitch, I decide to make the more prudent choice and go with "never." At least, "never" that person's/company's product: I can always go to one of their competitors. Moreover, frequently the "now or never" sales pitch gets me thinking about how much I'd like whatever product or service it is, and I do end up buying something similar, just from another company. Persuading companies that you are THE PERSON to buy from rather than persuading them that today is THE DAY to buy seems like a better approach. That said, I don't have concrete suggestions for how to do that.

The only practical suggestion I have is to know your target companies really well. I have a friend who, whenever she gets a sales call at work, asks "Can you tell me what we do?" and frequently the caller clearly has no idea.
posted by Meg_Murry at 11:01 AM on January 12, 2009 [2 favorites]

I'm always suspicious of urgency, particularly from a salesperson.

This is definitely something I need but I'm dealing with a crisis right now and all I can do is take your card. Perhaps I come across as entirely disinterested but when I call you back the following week you pick up on the first ring and answer all my questions. In fact, every time I call you to either gripe or buy more stuff you get back to me right away.
posted by ezekieldas at 11:13 AM on January 12, 2009

n'thing that this approach would set off all sorts of alarm bells in my head.

That said, if you're targeting small business owners, they likely are good at what they do, but may not be good with marketing and designing ads, and are probably too busy to deal with it anyway, so in order to be attractive, partnering yourself with someone who is good with designing ads and likely to give some return on investment for the business owner in placing the ad, I think might give some leverage.

For companies large enough to have a marketing dept, you'd likely want to get the e-mail or phone of the person in charge and contact them directly, but not by walk-in.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 11:30 AM on January 12, 2009

Disclaimer: I don't have a store.

But if I did, I'd have two general concerns: 1) How would an ad on this web site help me? and 2) How do I know that the person in my store (you) are able to give me that ad?

For the former I'd want data concerning how many people visit your site (and whether it's increasing or not), an argument that those people are interested in and able to buy what I have to sell, and maybe some sort of trial period or money-back guarantee, to protect against you just lying and making those stats up.

For the second point, I absolutely would not give any money to you on the spot. I would need an email return address of something@sitename.com for some evidence that you have the power to put an ad on that site. It would also give me a chance to check out the site for myself to see how it's designed, and optimally get a sense of size and make-up of the community through comments, etc.

To give me a sense of urgency there'd have to be a legitimate reason behind it. Perhaps you have limited ad space and are giving this same spiel to N other local stores, first come first served. Or, "if you're interested, I can give you first-dibs, but only for today" or something like that.
posted by losvedir at 11:33 AM on January 12, 2009

I'd want to know that whatever site would be carrying the ads would have some kind of standards, both ethical and, to mirror and support this, graphical. This is so that I wouldn't be associating myself with the online equivalent of a cheap used car lot or convenience store (unless that's where my demographic was).
posted by amtho at 12:26 PM on January 12, 2009

We'd never buy from a walk-in. Maybe if you could send a mailer, then an email, then a phone call to set an appointment, we'd take you seriously.


I'm a receptionist. (Actually the Administrative Director, but I look like the receptionist to you.) The 'gatekeeper' so to speak. If you show up and want to sell me something right now I'm going to take your card and give you a polite "no" and then drop your card in the trash. And you're going to have to pitch me before I decide to take your proposal to anyone higher in my organization. Its my job to make sure you don't waste their time. If you won't talk to me, you won't talk to us at all.

You need to be willing to work with me over a few weeks to sell me anything. The only Walk-in I've ever, ever given any business to was the guy who came in and asked to make an appointment for some future date to talk to me about his product, who left me some stuff to review, who took my card, and who called me the day before to confirm - at which time I begged off and postponed two weeks and he called again to confirm. And then he let me postpone again, and again. It took us two months to have that meeting, but in between he stayed in touch, educated me a little, and when the time came that we were in the market for his product I finally took the meeting because he was the 'top of mind' guy.

Sales shouldn't be a one nights stand. Its a seduction, and good seduction takes time.
posted by anastasiav at 12:33 PM on January 12, 2009 [6 favorites]

In my area there have been a few scam-artists selling advertising door-to-door, predictably with a strong push for the mark to make a decision right then or lose a great opportunity, then disappearing with the money.

With that in my mind, I'd probably not only show you the door, I'd call the other nearby shop-owners I know personally to warn them of a potential scam-artist doing the rounds. Trying to generate that urgency would set you so far back in my view that you might not get a chance to prove you were legit, much less a wise business decision (unless, as mentioned, this was for a website/magazine I was already familiar with, or there was an obvious reason for haste, like a seasonal publication). This 'first dibs to you, but today only tactic would not work with me at all as it's one of the arguments the aforementioned crooks use.
posted by K.P. at 12:38 PM on January 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

One, two or three months free with statistical proof that sales increased quantifiably in that period in an amount greater than the rack rate of the ad.
posted by Muirwylde at 4:22 PM on January 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

I would never buy online ad space from an offline salesperson.
posted by gen at 7:21 PM on January 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

Yeah, and also there's nothing that looks more desperate than some guy in a suit going door-to-door. Don't wear a suit.
posted by exceptinsects at 8:50 PM on January 12, 2009 [2 favorites]

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