“What will it take to get you into this television buy?”

Dear Boom,

Why the Hell does take three meetings of BS to get the real proposal from any sales rep in media? TV, radio, f***ing newspaper reps? It’s like buying a used car? Why does it have to be that way?
Lost Over Lawrence (Mass.)

Or why do they, after telling them EXACTLY what you want, keep trying to sell you their add-on packages? (It reminds me of the movie Fargo where Jerry Lundegaard keeps trying to upsell Tru Coat finish to all his customers.)  I especially enjoy the awkward powerpoint presentations that invariably stretch your logo in a horrifically incorrect way, as if that will somehow embolden you to commit your preallocated budget to their “Turkey Drive for Breast Cancer” promotion. But I digress.

Clearly the inner workings of the media rep mind are far beyond your or my comprehension, LOL. So I posed your question to one of my favorite media reps (admittedly not a high bar).  He said:

“The easy answer is that many of us actually came from the used car business and are very reluctant to give up our proven tactics. (“What will it take to get you to buy this today?”) But seriously, there is a lack of training in our industry on both sides of the table. Media buyers who don’t know what they want and end up sending out generic RFPs that don’t give any information or direction and media reps who only want to sell what they are told to sell (aka “this weeks special”). Because of this, sometimes it takes three or more meetings for the two sides to reach a common ground. Sad but true, and unfortunately it happens a lot. A good media rep will ask questions pertinent to your request in order to find out more about your overall strategy and then bring back a solution that adds value to the strategy. If you don’t have a good rep (and trust me they are out there) ask for a different one and maybe you’ll get one that actually works for you. If not you certainly have their attention now and if nothing else they should end up being much better listeners in that first meeting.”

Like all business relationships, your relationship with your media rep is just that – a relationship. As my therapist likes to say, you get back what you send out. Treat your media rep with respect and honesty. Don’t try to just squeeze out the best deal because you can. Be honest about your expectations. Tell them that the sales foreplay, while nice, won’t figure into your buy.

And if that doesn’t work, treat it like a bad disease and ditch ‘em fast. Because in this case, there really are other fish in the sea.