3 Things Media Salespeople Should Do to Impress the Corner Office
The role of the media salesperson is changing drastically. Where once salespeople sold a list of products in a media kit, today they are tasked with consulting with clients to create holistic programs that cross platforms, require data savvy, and generate measurable results. Innovations in digital marketing and audience data collection have led this shift. Advertisers have come to expect detailed data insights on their campaigns, shifting their focus from premier ad placements to ad performance and conversion. The bar has been raised, and media salespeople must draw on new skillsets and tools in order to meet it.
So how can a salesperson be successful in today’s media environment? At last year’s Reboot: Radically Transforming Media Sales, senior executives in the media business revealed what they look for in a modern media seller and offered the corner office perspective on strategies salespeople can implement to succeed.
Following are three ways that media salespeople can up their performance and excel in today’s industry:
1. Be Data Hungry
Thanks to new technology, there has never been more transparency about who is reading a brand’s online content or engaging with their ads. That has placed a larger burden on publishers to prove (with the data to back it up) that they can provide access to the right audience for advertisers. Salespeople must offer more than traditional audience audits and prove the worth of their audience through their online behavior. “We’re trying to convince our customers that we have the right audience for them,” said Matthew Weiner, president of the Insurance & Finance Groups at ALM. “It’s real-time data that can convince them that we have the right audiences.”
Salespeople need to up their data game. At the bare minimum, salespeople should check in with their audience development or data team prior to a sales meeting. They should ask what webinars the prospect has signed up for, what newsletters they’ve subscribed to, and what articles they have read on the site. If you can share this information with the client in a sales meeting, you have completely changed the conversation, said eMedia Strategist president Eric Shanfelt. “There is now no question of your credibility or that you know your audience.”
Today salespeople should become more familiar with the sites they sell. Take the time to get a handle on the site taxonomy and understand what areas of the site garner the most traffic. If you understand how the audience uses your sites, you’ll have invaluable information to provide the prospect in a sales meeting, said Weiner.
One way to get in tune with audience and campaign metrics is to ask your ad operations team to send regular reports. At B2B publisher FierceMarkets, ad operations used to send campaign reports to clients, and the salespeople never saw those metrics. Now, salespeople are the first to see the reports and the burden is on the salesperson to share those numbers with their clients, explained former FierceMarkets president Maurice Bakely, currently principal at Ampfyre. “After a few months you get a pretty clear idea of what’s working,” he added.
2. Geek Out on Online Marketing
The pace of change in online marketing is rapid, which means publishers’ offerings need to evolve to incorporate new technologies and capabilities in order to stay competitive. “The products have to constantly be refreshed,” said Bakely. “If you don’t have some passion or interest in online marketing and bringing ideas forward, we won’t evolve as an organization.”
Bakely called on salespeople to “geek out” on online marketing to learn what new technologies and solutions can be brought to bear for advertisers. When salespeople actively seek out new solutions for their clients, they change the sales dynamic. Instead of reacting to client demands, they can bring forward ideas and drive greater value.
So how can salespeople up their marketing knowledge? Sign up for newsletters that cover the latest news and strategies in online marketing. Collaborate with your audience development and web teams to better understand new technology in the marketplace and brainstorm new solutions for clients. Set aside time every week to generate new sales ideas. Shanfelt said that he and his sales team established Beer Fridays, where the team would meet up at 3:30pm each Friday to have a couple beers and brainstorm new sales solutions. He said that this was incredibly impactful for driving new business.
3. Understand the Marketer’s Dilemma
Media salespeople need to learn how to connect the dots. Often salespeople have blinders on, working solely to up their sales numbers and meet their quotas. While that’s important, it’s also crucial to take a step back and understand what’s motivating the companies that you’re selling to. Shanfelt said that the best salespeople understand what a marketer is trying to accomplish, knows their own products and audience, and how to piece those two things together.
“It’s really about how can you make the marketer look like a hero. If you can achieve that, you’ll take their money ten times not just once,” said Shanfelt.
The marketer’s dilemma is simple: they need effective ways to connect to the right audience online. Publishers are in a unique position to provide that connection, having already created direct relationships with their audience through valuable content. The trick is finding compelling ways to combine advertisers and content, whether that’s through sponsored content, webinars, custom content, or a combination of all three.
This requires a consultative approach to selling and a closer partnership with clients. That doesn’t mean developing completely custom and labor-intensive solutions, cautioned Shanfelt, but rather identifying the needs of the client and understanding how to combine the publisher’s existing products to meet those needs.
Sales and marketing expert Andrew Davis provides some examples of how to do this in the online course, “How Salespeople Can Win the Battle for the Mind of the Modern Marketer,” which you can view here for free.
Conclusion: Keep Learning
“I want salespeople to be inquisitive,” said Shanfelt. They should want to learn about clients’ pain points, new technologies, and marketing strategies. Although that may seem overwhelming, even implementing some of the changes above can make a big impact in the long term. “These little things make a big difference over time,” said Bakely.