I began working in sales as soon as I graduated college and never looked back. Early on, my selling success came down to two simple tasks: convincing businesses to sign on the dotted line and moving on to the next business as fast as possible. But unlike with the magazines I previously worked for, successful selling in an N2 publication comes from building real, honest relationships with clients. This difference is something I realized nearly too late, and it’s the reason I can share from personal experience how not to ramp-up an N2 publication.
NO RELATIONSHIP NECESSARY
At one time, I sold ads for a travel and leisure magazine that I choose to refer to as the “dungeon of hell.” We sat in a dark room making call after call to sell advertising. I never once met with a business owner in person. Each ad contract was a one-time thing – no real relationship needed.
The next publication I worked for was weekly, so we offered three-week agreements. When you tell someone they only have to buy for three weeks it’s a pretty easy sell. However, the advertisers were not forming any relationships with our readers with such short advertising commitments. I didn’t mind this job, but I ultimately left because the publisher, my boss, was extremely mean. There’s a reason I was the seventh person in a single month to quit, and the character of the people you work with and work formakes a huge impact.
A DIFFERENT PRODUCT
The second I found out about N2 Publishing I was on board. I went into the business telling myself, “I’ve been successful in sales jobs, advertising – even selling auditing. I can definitely sell something like N2 because it’s an awesome product!” In the past, I was making six figures through sales so you could say I was pretty confident.
In training, I listened to everything N2 leaders were saying. I thought what they were doing and recommending was great. But I asked myself, “Why am I going to use their program when my own program has been super successful? If my system’s not broken, why fix it?”
Here’s the answer I wish I had realized from the very start: N2 is a different product. It’s the only product I’ve worked with that is focused on relationship building and community building… and this can’t be done in the type of sales I did in the past. Against the leaders’ advice (built on more than a decade of success in selling for N2 publications, mind you), I went into meetings with nothing but a magazine.
From the start of my ramp-up in June 2010 until the Fall Conference that September, I barely sold any ads. One was a quarter-page ad with an annual commitment purchased from a friend who told me he’d support me in anything I do, and whom I bribed with lunch.
I arrived at the conference after four months of effort, frustrated and confused, and it just hit home: I’m not on N2’s proven program to succeed at all. I was really, really good at letting people think I was following the recommendations, but I wasn’t. Hearing Jason Hietbrink speak at Conference – he’s amazing – and hearing Bernadette Hayes, who are both so successful, made me wonder what I was doing so differently. And it just clicked. They are following the steps N2 told us to follow.
At this point, I shed a few tears with Marty (N2’s COO). I admitted to him the truth and wanted to know if he thought it was too late for me to be successful here. I asked, “Should I walk away at this point? I didn’t do what you said because I thought my program was more successful.”
Marty told me that I had the opportunity to turn it around. So, I went home that September with the mindset that there was no room for failure. My family needed me to do this. And once I really got serious about ramping up and following N2’s direction, I had a minimum of seven, eight, nine appointments every week. I actually used the tried and tested meeting materials. Honestly, I talked to the business partners about the potential of earning a relationship with my residents… and they got it. I was selling ads! On January 5th, 2011 – four months after the Fall Conference – I made it to print.
THE BOTTOM LINE
If others who are considering a future with N2 take away anything from my story, it’s this: Ramping up a publication is going to be the most emotional rollercoaster you’ve ever been on. There’s going to be high high’s and low low’s, but nothing is worth it in the end if you don’t give it 100%. The original ADs who hit the ground running with no tools spent years perfecting N2’s program. They did the hard work so we can ride their wave. I truly believe that anyone can be successful at N2 if they want it badly enough and simply follow the steps that are placed in front of them.
Kathryn Howell is an Area Director in Sarasota, Florida.
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