Gephart on Persistence in Out of Home Sales

Kevin Gephart

Kevin Gephart spent 35+ years selling advertising including 12 years at Clear Channel Outdoor in Minneapolis.  Last week he talked about his proudest out of home sale.  Today he talks about the importance of persistence.

Billboard Insider reader Tom Giesken asks “what’s the most important thing to teach a new out of home sales rep?”

The answer is persistence.

Early in my career I had a really crusty old sales trainer…He said when you call on a new prospect you look like a chicken in a tuxedo.  They’ve never seen anything like you.  If you come back and see them 8-10 times, next thing you know they’re calling the chicken by name.

The sales trainer had what he called his 18 exception rule.  You don’t know if a prospect is viable until you’ve made 18 attempts to engage in a conversation.  It’s human nature that we stop – I have seen some of this in our own company’s research –calling on that prospect at about the 6th, 7th, or 8th attempt, which ironically, is right about the time they are starting to gain some curiosity about what you are saying.

When I came to Minneapolis to sell for the highest billing radio station in the market, I was in a cube next to one of the top billers.  He was a complete “Eeyore”…never had a very sunny outlook.  I couldn’t understand how he sold so much.  One day he walked in with a $300,000+ annual contract. When I asked him how he did it, he said, “well, I have been calling on him for 2.5+ years.”

“No” is “no for now”. We are ingrained from the time we are a year old that “no” means “no”.  It is unnatural to keep going after a “no.”

When I let a prospect drop from my radar, it never fails, three months later somebody gets a call from that company saying “will you come and talk to us about our ad program?”  Clearly, I had fallen off of their radar also!

Are your sales people are stuck?  What objections are they are hearing most?  What sales question do you want answered?  Let me know using the form below.


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