5 critical sales questions every AE needs to know, ask


ryan dohrnI wish I could say I was surprised when I go on an ad sales call with a sales rep and they talk about their media product for the first 20 minutes of the ad sales meeting. Why do sales people talk so much? In most cases, it is bad training or fear. Fear of silence perhaps? Mostly fear of not knowing what the outcome of the meeting should be before the meeting begins. They just do not have a playbook to follow. It is sort of like placing 11 football players on the field and telling them to simply go out for a pass.  Every now and then you will score a point, but most of the time you get beat by a better team with a plan.   I preach a lot about having an ad sales process and holding meetings that win business. Ad sales training is mostly about understanding that there are several ways to win a ball game, but which one will maximize your potential to win?

I have found that most meetings that win business are centered on the advertiser and have very little to do with the media you are selling. Sure, that is an important factor, but the meeting must be about them and their needs. Their desires. The things which are meaningful to them, like making money. So, how do you get to that winning moment where you ask for the order? You must first ask some really good questions of the advertiser. Lead them to the point where they realize that you really care about their business and their success with your media company.

Here are 5 of my top 10 most critical sales questions every ad sales rep should know and ask on every sales call.

1. If we could create the perfect ad for you, what would it look like (sound like) and what is the outcome you expect from it?  The goal of this question is to manage advertiser expectations from day one.

2.  How many times does a new customer of yours need to see your advertising message before they make a decision to do business with you?  The goal of this question is to establish with the advertiser that they need to do more.  They need to advertise in multiple ways on multiple days!

3. What ad campaigns/types of ads have worked for you over the last 12 months to meet your goals? Why did the ads work? What ads have not? Why did they not work?  The goal of this question is to see if there are patterns you can repeat and to identify patterns not to repeat.

4. Are there any new products or services you will debut in the next 6 months?  The goal of this question is to find out what needs to be promoted.

5.  Who is your perfect customer?  The goal of this question is to find a match with your demo.

Like a game of chess, always be thinking ahead.  Listen to the answer to each question above and grow each question into a relationship building moment.  Take notes and be prepared to follow-up each question with another.  Ask questions with a purpose and a passion to make the sale.  Every good ad sales rep will have five to ten great questions they ask on every sales call.

Never forget, if ad sales was easy… everyone would be doing it.


–Ryan Dohrn is an international ad sales training coach with media clients in seven times zones.  His passion for radio and television began at WPXR FM and led him to his last post at WLS-TV in Chicago.  Now, he is an internationally recognized digital media sales expert and is the founder of 360 Ad Sales Training and Strategy, a boutique revenue consulting firm with a detailed focus on ad sales training, internet consulting and media revenue generation.

360 Ad Sales Training and Strategy



Follow him on Twitter.com/ryandohrn for daily tips and advice.


You do not have permission to view the comments.