Turning “I have no budget” into a closed deal

“I have no budget” or “My budget is allocated for the year” are the most common objections I hear as a media sales professional.

Unlike the vast majority of ad sales coaches out there, I actually sell media every day. What I share is what I do!

Ryan Dohrn.

If you don’t hear this objection at least three times every day, you are either not in media sales or you are not contacting enough clients. Those of us who sell advertising every day get so used to this phrase it is almost laughable. You see the advertiser running ads elsewhere, and yet they claim to be broke.

So, how do we turn this standard objection into a meeting, and then into a closed deal?

The answer lies in your ability to quickly reply and change the direction of the conversation.

Below are the most common strategies I use when speaking to an advertiser claiming to be “broke”. Notice I do not end any of these strategies with a “yes or no” question. Instead, I use a “dead-ending” on my statement to create an awkward silence.

I have written these strategies so they read like a script from a play. Please also note that they were written with a magazine sale in mind.

No budget ad sales training strategy #1

This strategy is used when the advertiser you are calling on has a competitor that is already advertising with you.

Advertiser: “I have no budget.”

You: “I truly feel that your absence from our publication creates a HUGE opportunity for your competition. Are you familiar with Competitor X?”

Advertiser: “Yes.”

You: “Not advertising with us is allowing Competitor X to have 100 per cent share of voice in our magazine. Competitor X has a dominant presence in our media. I have an affordable and unique way to give Competitor X a run for their money.”

Salespeople often ask if this approach is ethical. The answer is yes! It is 100 per cent ethical as long as you never mention the future spending plans or ideas of Competitor X.

What Competitor X has done in the past is public record. It is important to note the dead ending to the sentence again. This creates a beautiful, awkward silence. Do not end with a statement that allows the advertiser to answer with a yes or a no. Honour the silence and let them speak next.   

No budget ad sales training strategy #2

Advertiser: “My budget is allocated for the year.”

You: “Just to be clear, when you say your budget, you mean your marketing budget?”

Advertiser: “Yes.”

You: “I’m thrilled to hear that you believe in advertising! What if the ideas I am willing to share with you could offer you a potentially greater return on your investment than what you are doing now, or save you money?”

Advertiser: “I’m under contract.”

You: “I understand. I would like to share my ideas with you, and if you find value in them, we can explore that contract issue together.”

It is important to note the dead ending to the sentence again. This creates a beautiful, awkward silence.

In addition, in today’s competitive media environment, it is uncommon for media companies to hold an unhappy advertiser to their contract. That said, do not get into legal issues with an advertiser about their existing contracts. Instead, encourage the advertiser to ask the other media company about downsizing their commitment, allowing them to have money for you too.

No budget ad sales training strategy #3

This strategy is most often used when you see a potential advertiser running with another media company.

Advertiser: “My budget is allocated for the year.”

You: “I see you are advertising with media company X. How is that working for you?”

Advertiser: “Great!”

You: “I’m thrilled to hear that you believe in advertising and that you are having great results. We have a very similar, and in some ways better, audience than media company X, and we can deliver your message at a much lower CPM and with a higher frequency. (Or whatever you can do better than media company X).

You clearly need to know what it is that is better about your audience, or what your media company does better than the competition. You cannot be prepared for battle if you do not first know your enemy – right?

Again, it is important to note the dead ending to the last sentence. You do not want to end by allowing the advertiser the option of giving you a yes or no reply. Creating silence often allows the advertiser to lead the conversation forward. This takes some practice. Yes, role play it out people!     

No budget ad sales training strategy #4

Advertiser: “I have no budget.”

You: “I have three companies just like you advertising with us, and they are seeing some great results.”

Advertiser: “I truly have no budget.”

You: “Is marketing a part of company strategy at all?”

Advertiser: “Yes, but the boss wants me to find things to do that are free.”

You: “Wow, that makes your job really tough! I would love to share some ideas with you and marry them to some type of return-on-investment worksheet. Of course, I cannot promise you results, but based on the other companies like yours that are thrilled with us, I think I can help you create an affordable marketing plan that your boss will approve.”  

Again, it is important to note the dead ending to the sentence. Why have I mentioned this so often? The reason is that most salespeople do not use awkward silences to their advantage. It is a “trained” action, not a natural way to end a sentence. You want to avoid ending statements with phrases like:

  • Do you understand?
  • Do you feel me?
  • Right?
  • Does that make sense?
  • What do you think?

Practice makes perfect

Media sales friends, this is the most common objection I hear every day. I sell media just like you. Those that are prepared are those that excel in advertising sales. The recipe to being prepared is one part bravery, and two parts practice. I have said it a thousand times…professional salespeople practice – amateurs wing it.

Get out there and give these strategies a try. Remember, if selling ads was easy, everyone would be doing it.

Ryan Dohrn is the creator of the 360 Ad Sales training system and an internationally recognised media revenue consultant. Dohrn runs a popular You Tube channel and podcast.

Written by Ryan Dohrn, Founder, Brain Swell Media

Ryan Dohrn is the creator of the 360 Ad Sales Training system and is an internationally recognised media revenue consultant. Ryan actively sells print, digital, broadcast, event sponsorships, exhibit space and radio. He has trained and coached over 15,000 ad sales reps to date and speaks over 60 times per year. Ryan loves teaching ad sales reps his simple and effective way to achieve ad sales success. Ryan has media clients in Australia, Spain, UK, Holland and the USA.


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