June 18, 2009 / Idea File Supplement

Ad sales preparation lesson plan

Written by Robin Sawyer

Have all of your staff members role-play the ad sales contacts.

Lesson one: Have students write letters and phone scripts to be used to make the initial contact to new and existing customers. Both vehicles need to say that it is that time of year to support the yearbook by buying an ad. Letters should indicate either they will be called to set up a meeting time, or someone will stop by. Phone scripts should ask for a meeting time. Then they are done, show them last year’s letters and scripts and see if someone has come up with something new to add. Have the class edit and finalize the letters and scripts.

Lesson two: Have the salespeople memorize and practice role-playing with the phone script, especially any objections (see lesson three).

Lesson three: Have salespeople role-play going to a business and meeting with the decision-maker. Students should practice the initial greeting, introducing themselves and reminding them of the letter or phone call.

The difficult part of the meeting is overcoming objections. Unless the decision-maker has said no, your salespeople should consider all other responses to actually be a request for more information. Have your staff practice responses to these objections, and think of more objections and responses.

“My advertising budget is used up.”
The salesperson could suggest that it would not take much money for one ad, and because the ad reaches such a broad audience and their families in a lasting way, they may be able to get that money back over time.

“Business is poor.”
The salesperson should suggest that today is the time to bolster that business through advertising in the school’s yearbook.

“I didn’t have major results from previous ads.”
The salesperson should suggest that repetition leaves a lasting impression. Why not try again?

“Business is booming. I don’t need to advertise.”
The salesperson should suggest they keep the momentum by placing an ad in the yearbook.

“Advertising rates appear too high; I can’t afford them.”
The salesperson should suggest that the ad will be printed in many books and reach a wide audience of students and their families. Point out the quality of the ad section and any steps taken to increase readability and attention to the section.

“I’m tired of the same old ad, year after year.”
The salesperson should suggest that the staff create the ad for him, with the opportunity for pre-approval. Suggest he add a photo of his student employees. A new graphic or coupons may be helpful, too.

Robin Sawyer