Are Your Priorities Straight?
What is required, she says, is a shift from “categorical” selling, where each avenue and option is laid out for an advertiser to choose, to “problem-solution selling”—an approach that requires understanding clients and their needs, as Bimblick suggested, and being able to match those needs to a wide array of advertising and event opportunities.
“One of the most important things [senior-level executives] have to do is make sure [that] the compensation package [they are giving to their salespeople] is in alignment with their sales goals, because salespeople are very clever, and they will figure out where the money is,” Berman notes. “Make sure it is [financially] worth it to them to sell digital media.”
She adds, “You also need to train them particularly in the area of digital and online media. If salespeople don’t understand how to sell it, they will shy away from it.”
Berman says salespeople must go higher up in their advertising clients’ decision-making units than in the past, talking to vice presidents and presidents, “but will only be invited to do that if they really understand their market.”
“If the client sells catheters to hospitals, they have to understand the hospital and medical market as well as the goals and challenges of the catheter company,” she says. “The ramification is [that] you need smart salespeople.”
Understanding What You Offer
According to Marilou Barsam, senior vice president of client and corporate marketing at Needham, Mass.-based IT media company TechTarget, publishers must be able to provide integrated online programs that mirror the decision-making process of those audiences advertisers are trying to reach.
TechTarget’s products are aimed at IT professionals in a range of markets, including storage, information security and software development. The company offers a suite of online advertising options, white-paper sponsorships and invitation-only events.
At TechTarget, she says, “Publishers have to be acutely aware of the IT-buyer process. You have to understand that the IT buyer goes through a journey, beginning with research, that helps them solve a problem in their enterprise.”