According to Lizelle McConnell, Head of Sales at Tractor Outdoor, data is now almost a basic passport to getting the deal.

Data is undoubtedly necessary when justifying why any medium should be on a schedule, especially for multinational brands who have strict tracking criteria, and where bonuses are dependent on key performance indicators (KPI) delivery.

I have almost forgotten what it was like to sell the outdoor medium years ago, when a picture, a street address and a three-year-old road traffic count was sufficient. With the registration of a local South African OMC based on international best practice, the outdoor industry exponentially expanded its potential, and continues to do so with the Outdoor Optimiser tool launched in 2019, which emulates TV and allows one to plan by budget or by GRP’s.

This, overlaid with mapping technology, digital innovation, and real-time geo-location mobile technology (something critical to consider in our Covid-19 reality for a day by day traffic flow), means planners can not only know how many people they are buying, but how frequently they are seeing the message, how to target for optimal product resonance by location and daypart, and how to target competitors through messaging and tactical placement. So yes, data will get you the deal, or it will certainly help.

But what I realised in Lockdown, when business has been really tough in the OOH spaces, is that there is another thing that gives you a far bigger advantage than the data, and that is relationships. It seems so obvious – well it certainly did to me – but then again, I am an extrovert and hard-wired to connect with people, and I have always worked very hard to build genuine relationships with my clients.

That is what good salespeople did before they gained another tool in their belt in the form of data – they built relationships. People deal with people. When all else is equal, you choose to work with people you trust and enjoy. Even when things are not equal, but time pressure, the volume of work, and sheer exhaustion sets in, you turn to people who are top of mind, and you know will deliver. Just like a friendship, to build this level of trust, and reliance takes time. It is built when you offer valuable advice, even if that advice won’t sell your medium today.

It is about the long game. Genuine relationships get built through consistency, so invite someone to that big rugby match (once events like these are allowed again), even if they don’t have that big client right now, because you never know when they will get appointed to be the media director of a big company. Do it to be genuine, not to be an opportunist – everyone knows the difference.

To win a seat at the table you need to truly add value. Like relationships, what you offer should be fluid, and adapt to what is needed, and you cannot do this unless you have an ear to the ground through ongoing discussions about their pain points and what they need. This often results in far bigger and far more long-term business opportunities than if you are constantly just there to sell.

I am so grateful for the relationships I have built over the years. It may have required me to see my clients after hours, or even occasionally on weekends, but it has been fun, and it always guaranteed that my calls are answered, and my meeting requests are accepted.

The best advice for someone starting in this industry, no matter what medium you represent, is: spend the time and build the relationship – the sale will come. This, coupled with smart, strategic data, will definitely result in getting you the deal.

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