8 Prospecting techniques for digital media sales

Selling more digital solutions is a must for media companies that want to survive and grow in the years to come. But landing digital clients requires the implementation of prospecting techniques that might look different from what teams that have only sold traditional advertising are used to.

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We’ve pulled together the 9 best prospecting techniques to help your media company effectively make the transition to digital, so you can capture your share of this growing sector.

Why your media company should care about digital

Traditional media companies have experienced a seismic shift over the last decade, with a rapidly increasing percentage of advertising revenues going to digital. There’s no longer any question about whether media companies in traditional spaces like radio, newspapers, and TV need to start selling digital solutions in order to survive: adapting to the digital landscape is essential.

This trend has been kicked into an even higher gear by the effects of the pandemic: while 55% of advertising revenues went to digital before the pandemic, that figure is already 65% and is expected to reach 90% in the next decade.

Many media companies recognize the importance of having their sales teams sell digital solutions, but actually implementing an effective sales strategy can be challenging for those accustomed only to traditional media. This holds true for top decision-makers who might be risk- and change-averse as much as for salespeople who may feel out of their depth selling digital.

Prospecting techniques for digital success

When it comes to prospecting techniques, failing to weigh your sales pipeline more towards digital is a costly mistake. Selling more digital starts with effectively prospecting to identify new clients who are more likely to buy these services from you. These prospecting techniques can help your team build a pipeline that will set your organization up for long-term, sustainable growth in a changing media landscape.

1. Use data

In the data age, prospecting techniques can and should go far beyond cold calling local advertisers and presenting a generic pitch deck.

Now, you can use data at different points of the prospecting process to ensure the best prospective clients are identified. Data can also allow you to open the conversation with a richer knowledge of their current situation and needs than was ever possible in the past.

By using a CRM platform and sales software that automatically prioritizes leads based on their activity, such as email open rates, you can easily identify the prospects that are most likely to convert now and focus on those. You can also make use of sales intelligence tools to accurately understand the areas in which a prospect requires the most support, so your opening conversations can be much richer than if you were going in cold.

2. Become a content creator

There are fewer local media companies selling traditional media ads, which means local advertisers in the past knew you were one of the key players in town selling advertising. It was harder for new competitors to enter the market, so perhaps you didn’t need to focus as much on establishing yourself as a leader in the space.

Today, creating content that communicates your expertise and the value you can offer clients is a must. Despite being a growing industry, digital media is competitive. You need a way to stand out against digital marketing agencies, managed service providers, and other providers of digital services.

Creating content like blog posts, whitepapers, case studies, and videos helps you stand out in two ways: firstly, it serves as a lead magnet that helps new prospects discover you and your services. Secondly, it establishes your media company as an expert voice that can help clients succeed. This builds the trust required to open up the conversation with your new prospects.

One of the easiest ways to show your value as a media company selling digital services is to lean in to what you know and do so well: video. This is a service that many agencies cannot easily offer, but you can. Share your knowledge about digital video ads, commercials, and more, to compete effectively.

3. Explore new markets

When you start offering more digital services, the list of potential clients you can work with grows dramatically. This means that the scope of your prospecting should also expand to ensure you’re capturing leads that might not have been appropriate for you when you were only selling traditional media ads.

For example, smaller ecommerce startups may not have been likely to spend their small marketing budgets on radio, TV, or print ads. However, they’re much more likely to need web design and hosting services, social media management, and search engine marketing. This means you can start looking for clients in markets you never would have done business with in the past.

4. Use email campaigns

In the digital space, technology is constantly changing, giving you a constant stream of content ideas for your email campaigns. This is different from traditional media, in which the basic principle of how it works—place your ad in front of as large an audience as possible, ideally in your target market, for the best chance at getting more sales—has remained unchanged.

With digital, changes to algorithms or to consumer preferences translate to significant shifts in what a business needs to do to be successful. For example, video may not have been as important 5 years ago, but today it’s become an increasingly essential component of digital marketing.

Delivering valuable content right to your prospective clients’ inboxes, and using campaign automations to make your automatic communications personalized to each lead, can help you nurture prospects efficiently at scale.

5. Create a questionnaire for leads from your website

When you transition to selling more digital services, your offering becomes more complex than when you were just selling traditional ads. Having prospects that come through your website complete a questionnaire can help you quickly identify the most promising leads that are most likely to be a good fit for your business. It can also help you capture some important information, such as details about their marketing goals, that will make your first conversation with them more fruitful.

6. Be persistent

Persistence has always been a useful trait to have in sales: Prospects are busy and likely have many competitors vying for their time. Taking their lack of responsiveness personally can mean missing out on a great opportunity. It can be helpful to remind sales teams that this holds true for digital media sales as much as traditional media sales. Prospects shouldn’t be closed out after a few attempts to connect with them.

For example, Mark Roberge, managing director of Stage 2 Capital, analyzed internal data to find that 6 calls results in a 90% chance of contact. Keep track of every attempted contact made with a lead, and you might find that prospects that you thought were dead were given up on too early in the process. Another interesting finding was that some of the best times to get in touch with prospects were between 8:00 and 9:00 AM and 4:00 and 5:30 PM. Consider the possibility that your prospects are most tied up from 9:00 to 5:00, and getting in touch just outside this window will increase your chances of connecting with them.

It can also be helpful to show up in different venues: phone calls, emails, and LinkedIn messages can all be used to get in touch with prospects.

7. Make listening one of your key prospecting techniques

Effective prospecting goes beyond merely creating a list of names and contact details from local advertisers you may be able to sell ads to. That’s just the first step. Once you connect with a prospect, resist the temptation to go right into sales mode and tell them all about the different services you can offer them.

Instead, make it a consistent part of your prospecting process to ask questions, listen, and build rapport. The goal is to develop a full understanding of the prospective advertiser’s needs so that you can better position yourself to offer them the most helpful bundle of services.

This is even more important when it comes to digital media sales than traditional media sales, because there are more moving parts to a digital marketing strategy. You have to know where your clients are currently falling short so that what you’re selling them helps improve their performance.

A good habit to get into is wrapping up your introductory call by summarizing what you understand their problem and their wishlist to be. This reinforces that you did in fact listen and understood what they were saying, and that any sales communications that follow are informed by your understanding of their needs.

8. Consider hiring a digital sales lead

Traditional media companies that have successfully made the pivot to digital find that rethinking how they structure their sales teams can help salespeople refocus their efforts toward building pipelines of digital prospects. It can be difficult to get people to prospect for new kinds of clients.

Hiring a designated digital lead with digitla expertise who oversees multiple salespeople can ensure everyone is on target. It can also provide training and support in reorienting towards digital. This can be an effective way to get your team to shift their efforts and implement prospecting techniques that land your media company more digital business.

As much as this may feel like an unnecessary hire that results in effectively paying two salespeople for each new client, the effect of having someone in charge of driving digital prospecting and sales efforts can be huge if you’re working with a team that is largely more comfortable with traditional media and having a difficult time with digital transformation.

About the Author

Solange Messier is the Content Strategy Manager at Vendasta. Solange has spent the majority of her career in content marketing helping companies improve how they connect with their prospects and customers. Her diverse background includes magazine publishing, book publishing, marketing agencies, payment processing, and tech. When she's not working, Solange can be found spending time with her family, running, and volunteering.

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