Upping the Ante-How to Empower Yourself to Ask Local Direct Clients for More Money

We have discussed in previous articles in this publication that media salespeople are usually the ones with the rate issue…not the local direct decision makers we deal with. We know now that value almost always trumps price. That means that when a salesperson proves to a client beyond a shadow of a doubt that his/her plan for the client’s success is better than the client’s plan, that’s when most clients will adopt you as their advertising resource, surrendering creative to you and eventually purchasing what you recommend they buy.

vOnly the most disloyal 3 percent bottom feeders would only buy you because you gave them the lowest price. Who likes dealing with people like that? Some clients are so stingy and greedy that you feel like you need a shower after completing a “negotiation” with them. But most people are reasonable and will buy you and pay you real money when you convince them that you are the expert and that you’ve got their back in the media niche.

Back in the olden days, most of my proposals were for $2500 per month. Why? Because I thought that seemed like a lot of money at the time…and that’s about what every other seller at the station seemed to ask for. So, my ceiling was $2500 a month per order. That number was what my comfort zone allowed me to ask for.

My epiphany came a few years later. I realized that clients would pay more, much much more…if I did their creative thinking for them and proved to them by doing an ROI analysis for them that instead of gambling, advertising with me was more of a good, calculated risk.

That’s when I took the $2500 I normally asked for a month…and instead started asking for that much per week. I raised the bar for myself, and at the same time for the client. If I did my job correctly, the client would eventually trust me and buy what I recommended they buy.

As explained in the movie “Meet the Parents,” we all have a “circle of trust,” those friends and relatives that we love and have faith in. We also have a second “circle.” That circle contains the professional people that have earned their way into our hearts and minds. Doctors, dentists, plumbers, grocery stores, restaurants and bars, bankers, insurance people, financial advisors, etc. These advisors have all had massive price increases through the years but we’ve not fired them. Why? Because we feel like they’ve got our backs. We value their expertise more than we care about their prices.

As account execs in broadcast sales today, we’ve got to grow a backbone and start asking for real money. Clients have a right to know how much it would actually cost to dominate their product/service category on our stations. We have a moral obligation to tell them what that figure would be. And then show them your vision on how casting the right bait the right number of times would make sense and make their cash registers ring.

But first, we need to believe that we deserve to ask for bigger budgets and not just keep asking for chicken poop orders. We need conviction. Of course it makes sense to believe that better creative ideas mixed with higher frequency increases the odds that the client’s campaign will be more successful. Once we are absolutely convinced that this is the truth then we will be more evangelistic and spread this word to clients that deserve to hear it.

What’s the worst thing they could say? No? And if they say no, we ask questions and uncover real objections. It may or may not be that they literally can’t afford what you’re proposing. If they don’t have the budget, I’ll bet that one of their competitors does. If the creative idea is good enough, somebody will buy it, and at the higher spending level.

Why not try it yourself? Expand your comfort zone and start asking for more money. I have discovered that when you ask for real money, clients pay much closer attention to what you’re saying. Consider the thousands they are discussing with other vendors every single month.

I have worked with radio and television clients in all 50 U.S. states as well as many other countries around the world and I have only ever heard of two broadcast salespeople that were actually kidnapped and murdered for asking a client for too much money. So our odds are pretty good, wouldn’t you agree?