It’s not the handshake: What do clients value in their sales rep

Now more than ever, the value of a relationship is undeniable. No one understands this more than the sales professional. Social distancing restrictions and virtual business practices have impacted sales professionals in unique ways.

Traditionally, sales reps are mobile creatures. Reps cover large territories and meet dozens of clients a day. They shaking hands, walk into new businesses, and develop face to face relationships. But it’s a new world, at least for the time being.

Is all the face-to-face meeting really what is driving sales? Is this what clients value most? Yes and no.

If you want to build a trusting relationship with your client, know your product.

In a 2019 study by Borrell Associates, the research firm found that advertisers pointed to a rep’s knowledge of their own products as the leading factor for a trusted relationship. This was followed closely by the sales rep’s knowledge of the client’s own business or industry.

borrell chart

For sales professionals, this should come as a relief. Know your product, know your client’s business, and understand their marketing goals. They can do without the handshake.


As rudimentary as this may seem, many sales professionals today don’t take the time to learn their product. Use this time at home as an opportunity to dig deeper. Developing a firm understanding of your product’s potential further drives home the sense that you are an expert in your field.

Research your industry and learn the resources available. Webinars, online certifications, and trainings abound, many for discounted prices while Shelter at Home orders are in place.

Stay up-to-date on industry news by following leading trade publications. With the fluidity of the current situation, it is essential to be aware of emerging trends.

Brainstorm with other professionals in the industry. Connect with groups on LinkedIn or Facebook. See if there are online forums for business professionals in your area. Any way to connect and ask questions will develop your skills.

At 5 Star Media, our broadcast marketing professionals are deeply invested in learning through the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB). The not-for-profit trade association represents America’s broadcast radio industry. Each sales rep goes through the extensive RAB Radio Marketing Professional (RMP) certification course.

Our digital marketing professionals engage in monthly continuing education programs through leading national companies. Staying at the forefront of digital trends and emerging products positions our digital team as experts in the industry.


Understanding the breadth of your products allows a sales rep to confidently make recommendations. Many clients are facing the unknown with their own business. It’s crucial to know all the tools in your arsenal that can benefit their situation.

Implement the art of the SELL (Seek Engage Listen Learn). Each business is going through a unique and difficult time. Listen to their concerns. Allow them to open up about their struggle. This provides the sales rep the opportunity to learn what may be driving their focus.

After you’ve had a conversation with your client, develop a solution. Don’t just throw out all of your products.

This is the age of the customized and curated advertising solution.

SEEK: Find solutions that work for your client and look for the potential in any situation. Be a resource for your client.

ENGAGE: Ask questions related to the client’s business. Understand their focus, struggle, and goals for the year.

LISTEN: Take the time to listen to their needs.

LEARN: Learn what is important to their industry.


With face-to-face time at a premium, sales professionals need to be prepared for any situation. Once businesses re-open, they will be moving quickly to attract customers. Come prepared to any meeting or phone conversation with the tools you need to close the deal.

The next few months will be uncharted territory for many sales reps. If you work with your advertisers to build trusting relationships, we’ll all come through this stronger, together.

If you’re a sales professional who values building trusting relationships with clients, consider joining the 5 Star Media team. We’re always looking for talented individuals who thrive in a challenging environment. Contact Amber Anderson, Sales Manager, at, to learn more about positions with our company.