Media-Sales-ROI-FearI'm an Inbound Marketing Specialist for Hubspot's Media Team. I work with media companies to not only grow their digital product offerings but to help them adopt a consultative sales process around advertiser ROI.

It's common for digital sales managers to tell me that their biggest challenge is showing advertiser ROI. However when I look into their sales processes, I find that the ROI conversation is completely avoided.

This typically happens for one of two reasons:

1) The advertiser will take their money elsewhere if the media company doesn't live up to ROI expectations
2) Media sales reps aren't confident their company has the ability to provide ROI 
The thing is, this doesn't need to happen. With the right conversation and the right tools, it is possible for media sales reps to confidently sell and deliver advertiser ROI. Let's take a closer look.

The Typical Media Sales Playbook

Mary, the media rep had a great inbound lead come in through her company's blog for a local prestigious college. The college is short on new student enrollment numbers and wants to invest in local advertising to boost interest and hit spring semester goals. Mary called and booked a meeting right away. She did an excellent job preparing for the meeting and researched their website, social networks and previous ad spends. In the meeting she presented all of her companies solutions, the school decided on a $12.50 CPM premium targeted banner ad to run throughout the month. Mary got the sale and felt great.

Lets take a look at the results that banner ad delivered.

At the end of the month the school saw 20 new students enroll. At first, Mary was excited to hear the results and tried to get them to sign again for another semester.  However, the college said that the students came to their site directly and didn’t directly attribute their results to the banner ad.  The school also missed their enrollment goal for the semester. The school did not renew with Mary.  

Something’s not right.

Mary won the deal but didn’t win on ROI.  It’s often thought that the problem is showing your clients ROI but I challenge that the issue is really offering and delivering services that lead to ROI.

How can Mary overcome this in the future? Ditch the pitch, Mary! The goal of your meeting should be to find out what ROI means to this advertiser then, work backwards to develop a solid plan together. If this is done correctly, you will differentiate yourself from your competition, become a trusted adviser and you will develop long term relationships with your advertisers. Let’s run through that example again.

A Consultative Media Sales Process

Mary gets the lead and does her research. She goes on the meeting and her first question is:

Mary: You mentioned you’re short on enrollment and need to boost your numbers. How short are you? 

School: (Impressed by the concern, answers) 30 students.

Mary: How much is tuition?

School:  Right now its $25,000 a year.

Mary: Great, so you’re looking to potentially make up $3 million over the next 4 years.

School: Yes, you can look at it like that.

Mary: How many potential students attending orientation does it take on average to get 1 student enrolled?

School: Typically it is a 4 to 1 ratio, why do you ask?

Mary: Instead of getting students to enroll just by seeing an ad online, I’m thinking it may be smarter to try and push qualified people to your orientations. By the math you provided it looks like 120 people in orientation should get you to 30 enrollments.

School: Hmm. I haven’t thought about that. How could you get people to an orientation?

Mary: First, we'd need an offer to prompt qualified potential students to download. Do you have anything like this or have any ideas about an offer you could create?

School: What about something on college financing tips?

Mary: Great idea. I’m thinking that we should run a campaign on our website. In this campaign we can target potential students by offering an ebook on free college financing tips. The people that download this offering will be invited to attend one of your orientations! We’d promote the offer through email, social media, a sponsored article and adjacent display ad that have a call-to-action to download the ebook. We can target the campaign to parents of high school students and students themselves. Because we have such a targeted approach, you can expect a 10% conversion rate on website traffic to leads and a 20% conversion rate of those leads turning into qualified leads (people that will attend orientation.) Throughout the promotion we will look at these metrics as a baseline for showing you ROI.

Would you agree this would get you to where you need to go?

School: Yes! Definitely.

Mary: Taking this one step further -- a few minutes ago you told me that you had a goal of $3 million in revenue. We determined that you'd need 30 students to reach this goal. Working backwards for a moment, this means that you'd need 120 students to attend an orientation. To get 120 students and based on a 20% conversion rate, you'd need 600 leads out of this campaign. To get 600 leads, the campaign needs to generate 6,000 visits to the landing page that hosts your financing tips ebook. My local media company gets traffic of (add in #’s) and we know that (x amount) of people in our audience have children in high school and (x amount) of people in our audience are high school juniors.

School: Sounds very targeted, indeed. How much will this cost us?

Mary: How much is a qualified lead worth to you? (Mary, smiles and continues.) A campaign like this, costs $60,000 which breaks down to $500 per qualified orientation attendee. All in all, it costs 1% of your overall revenue goal.  

Confronting ROI turns into renewals

In both stories the school sees an increase in enrollment. But, by adding an offer and conversion tools as well as discussing ROI upfront during the sales process, both Mary and the school know what they are working towards. The school can also easily attribute their success to Mary's campaign, not another campaign running in-market, and then immediately renew their campaign with Mary for the upcoming semester. Why wouldn’t they? It works!

ROI should not cause fear or avoidance. It is the foundation of a consultative sales process that can be utilized as leverage to boost your prices while giving your advertisers superior results.  





Originally published Mar 26, 2014 4:00:00 PM, updated January 18 2023


Sales Process