Inserting Digital Into Your Local Sales Cycle

Inserting Digital Into Your Local Sales Cycle

Matthew Caylor

Ask any media sales person and they will agree, the sales process has become more complex and more difficult over the past 15-years, but the goal remains the same – sell more while maintaining valuable relationships.

As the sales process has evolved beyond our traditional products, ad sales reps are now tasked with selling a wider variety of solutions than ever before. The average sales person’s offerings range from our bread and butter products (ROP, Inserts, etc.), to niche print publications (special sections, community magazines, etc.), to the newest digital products (desktop/mobile display, search, email, etc.).

Sales teams are also impacted by the continued fragmentation of the media, and the disruption caused by the introduction of digital into consumer’s daily lives. With less time being spent with traditional media outlets, advertisers must include additional media elements to reach the same saturation levels as were achieved in the past.

With increased pressure on making more sales, along with a more diverse portfolio, it is important for you to look for ways to keep your entire product portfolio relevant to the sales process.

This article will discuss how to include digital elements in the media mix.

Pre-Call Planning

Before your first interaction with your client, it is important to have an understanding of their current digital situation. This research helps to build trust with them and provides you with valuable insight.

Consider the following:

  • Does the advertiser currently have a website?
  • What is the quality of that website?
  • What is the objective of that website? (Informative or Direct Sales)
  • Is the site optimized for mobile? (Test your own site with Google)
  • Are there online reviews about the advertiser? Are they good or bad?
  • Does the advertiser have a social media presence? Are they updating frequently
  • Where does the advertiser appear in search results?

The presence of a website (or not) and its quality will dictate where to direct a digital advertising campaign. If the property is of poor quality, then alternative (ex. linking to their social media presence) options should be sought. If the site is not mobile friendly, then mobile advertising elements should not be proposed as part of the campaign.

This information may seem difficult to find, but a simple search on Google, Yahoo, Bing will uncover the above information within a few minutes. This is time well spent to identify important information about a client and to reveal potential pain points.


During this portion of the sales cycle, you are looking to uncover potential advertising solutions for your client. Some additional questions may help to reveal opportunities or threats.

If the client has poor reviews online.

“I noticed you have a number of negative reviews online. Do you think those could negatively impact your business?”

This type of question provides a springboard in the pitch process to propose local digital tools to counter those negative reviews.

If the client has an active social media presence.

“You are sharing a lot of information through social media. What are you looking to accomplish through your time spent sharing?”

This type of question positions you to speak to the restricted reach through social media that brands have, only being able to access a small percentage of their audience with each post. Share how you can provide a paid outlet that can better meet the goals they would like to achieve through social sharing.

If the client is looking to push sales through their website.

“I saw on your website that people can purchase (items, services, etc.) right through your website. Are you meeting your goals for online sales?”

This type of question can reveal either positive or negative result, but either response is an opportunity for a sale. If online sales are below the goal, then new digital advertising can solve that issue. If online sales are already at or above goal, the advertiser can capitalize on that success by driving more sales with advertising through their local news media property.


After determining the advertiser’s needs, the next step is to present them with solutions. In the pitch phase, you are utilizing what you have learned through the pre-call planning and the discovery process, to present a solution.

Consider these three points when building your pitch.

  1. The long legacy of print has left many SMB advertisers comfortable with using newspapers as an option, but less so with digital. It is important to remember that is highly likely that the local advertiser is less knowledgeable about digital advertising, and will require additional education.
  2. With less knowledge about digital, SMBs may doubt its value, or be afraid to invest their dollars in an untested product. Remember to share examples or testimonials during the process to help alleviate this fear.
  3. SMBs are contacted regularly by digital advertising providers. It is important for you to highlight the positive differences between your offering (local presence, ability to provide a multi-media campaign, etc.) over those reaching the SMB through phone or email outreach.

With the sale complete (ideally ending with a strong close) the process continues to the next step.


After the sale, the process is not complete. With digital, the advertiser does not receive a physical product as a result (i.e. tear sheet or paper copy). This lack of tangibility can lead to doubt about the product’s effectiveness. To alleviate these concerns, and drive repeat sales, be prepared to provide two items – a screenshot showcasing the copy delivered, and a traffic report that tells the story of success.

The final traffic report should complement the knowledge level of the client. While more sophisticated clients will be satisfied with straightforward reporting of impressions and clicks, the average SMB needs to have the report explained. Be prepared to discuss impressions in terms the client will understand, and review the benefits of the campaign beyond the click (driving engagement in the same way traditional advertising does).

At first glance, the addition of digital may appear to be a difficult sell, but with a small amount of practice, and short investment of time per client, it can yield beneficial results. Bringing digital to a client helps to establish you as a valuable marketing resource, and makes it more difficult for other vendors to capture a portion of the advertiser’s dollars.

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