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Adapting, listening crucial in ad sales

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Bernard Schraer has been publisher of NorthStar Travel Media's Meetings & Conventions, a monthly that reaches 70,000 corporation and association meeting planners, since 1997. Three years ago, when the Seacaucus, N.J.-based company launched T&E, which covers travel and entertainment expense management, he became group publisher of both titles.

MB: What successful ad sales strategies does Meetings & Conventions employ today?

Schraer: Six or seven years ago we were selling ad pages; now that's a small component of what we do. In addition to offering magazine print advertising, we have become specialists at creating marketing packages that meet very specific customer objectives. Our packages include a range of electronic solutions from e-seminars and e-postcards to Web advertising; custom research; relationship marketing that brings buyers and sellers together in educational forums, trade shows and social settings; and developing measurable response vehicles that demonstrate ROI.

MB: What are the most important aspects of a Meetings & Conventions sales call?

Schraer: The first time sales meets with a prospect, the No. 1 thing to do is listen. It's not a matter of selling our position or the marketplace but understanding what keeps the CEO awake at night and how folks make their performance bonuses so we can map out how to solve their problems. Providing solutions that help people make their numbers is easy for sales to understand.

-Christine Bunish

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