Bob Berting Article

“What should a first call on a prospect look like?”

By Bob Berting, Berting Communications


Let’s take the first prospect call. This is not the time to pressure a prospect. Recently we see a Sales Call system to build trust fast by doing research on LinkedIn– then sharing success stories– then presenting ideas on the spot– then talking about running one ad– then making a presentation with data sheet, an offerings sheet, pricing grid– then finally overcoming objections…all of this on the first call! Obviously the wrong way to sell the prospect on the very first call!

Introducing the first call of a 3 Call Selling Process…

Establishing Credibility

Probably one of the biggest waste of  time in an advertising salesperson’s life is the number of calls it takes to close a prospect. Over the years in a thousand sales manuals there is the consistent message that 80% of sales are made after the 5th call. This effort only happens because salespeople believe in follow through and dogged determination. So instead of first call pressure on a prospect, or 5-10 calls to wear them down, it is my belief a prospect can be processed and closed mor effectively in 3 calls. Let’s see how this will work.

Let’s examine a good first call on the prospect.

 According to most experts, after you have researched their website, now is the time to tell them what you know about their business—and how interested you are in what they are trying to achieve. This usually leads to questions you can ask about their business goals. The whole thrust of effort is designed to get them to open up and reveal everything about their business and their marketing goals plus hopefully their budget for advertising. As a media buyer for my advertising agency of 30 years, I have been subjected to this approach. In a typical example, I’m sitting there  with a media salesperson  and I’m thinking “who is this person—can I trust them—why should I tell them all about my plans—if  I’ve got goals I want to achieve why should I reveal them when I hardly know him or her?” The bottom line is that they have no credibility with me…I’m not ready to open up until I can thoroughly trust them, think they’re reliable, and have confidence in them.


 So the answer is, you’ve got to strike a balance between building a relationship and at the same time have them trust and believe you. Here is a time tested strategy for identifying yourself to the prospect:

The advertising salesperson opens with the following “ I’d like to talk to you about your business but I think it’s very important that you know who we are” The prospect now has these questions and thoughts in their mind which needs to be addressed as to who you are:

I don’t know who you are—what is your background experience –what are your qualifications?

I don’t know your company—what is the complete name of your publication—what other businesses do you have?

I don’t know your company’s product—tell me about your print and digital display ads—classified ads—website—local news—inserts

I don’t know your company’s customers—give me testimonials of people in my line of business.

I don’t know your company’s reputation—tell me about your awards, civic honors, and community involvement.

Once this information is presented and it can be given in 5 minutes– the prospect now is in a position to better trust and to believe in your credibility. You’ll notice there has been no mention of showing a media kit. It has all been verbal.

Building Rapport

There’s always a likeability factor in selling. It’s amazing what a smile can do to break down barriers between people. It’s always important to find common ground and build rapport. How many times have we heard the phrase “ build rapport” but even in today’s world of selling. It’s amazing how many times we forget to do it.  It still means something for a prospect to be complimented on their hobby or something they’ve done. I remember once having a real tough time with a prospect until I saw his bowling trophies and award certificates on his office wall. I was a bowler myself so I could relate to his accomplishments. I sincerely asked him about his  bowling expertise and a huge change happened. He became far more friendly and ended up giving me quite a chunk of busine

Creation of interest

At the conclusion of the first call —that is the time to do what I call “gravitational selling” This is where you want the prospect to gravitate to you in preparation for the second call. It also can be called “creation of interest”. In a sense, it’s like the identification segment except it makes promises of what the prospect can expect from you in the way of service. Here are key points which can be discussed fairly briefly with the prospect:

Professionalism—we show up on time—we do what we say we’ll do.

Custom designed ads in print and digital—use of great graphic art and copywriting

Use of inserts—power of inserts

Point of sale/printing—signage for your promotions (if you have the capability)


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Bob Berting, print media marketing consultant, is offering his 4th e-book “Smart Customer Connections For Advertising Salespeople” to the print media industry. This new e-book is designed for the advertising salespeople who want to build better connections with their customers, especially in these stressful times of lost advertising revenue.

Bob’s expertise in advertising sales can be the guide for advertising salespeople to be a trusted advisor who can work with their customers in very creative and innovative ways.

This 12 chapter e-book will help increase sales and build the image of publications in the print media industry. Bob’s new e-book and other 3 e-books can be ordered by going to his website:

Bob Berting is a professional speaker, advertising sales trainer, publisher marketing consultant and featured columnist in several national and regional newspaper trade association publications. He is President of Berting Communications, 6330 Woburn Drive, Indianapolis In 46250 and can be reached at or 317-849-5408