January is a popular time to get a new job in advertising, especially for salespeople whose Q4 bonuses and commissions have been paid out. But how do you find the sales job of your dreams? For some answers, I spoke to Ellie Windle, sales director at MediaMath and former executive recruiter at Urgent Career.
There's a lot of talk about automation and how it will affect jobs in ad sales. Are there still good ad sales jobs for people?
Ellie: Absolutely. The automation of digital media buying has created amazing new sales positions that didn’t exist even a year ago. The mechanism for buying digital may be changing, but the demand is only increasing. This means there are plenty of opportunities for sales reps to help advertisers find creative digital solutions. But I do expect the ad sales role to continue to look more like an enterprise software sales role and less and less like a pure media sales role. Even today, you have job specs that ask for “technology” sales reps vs “media” sales reps.
While I think there will always be a need for talented media sales teams, these are the roles that I think will shrink as the industry continues to adapt automated buying tools. Meanwhile, the technology sales roles will continue to expand.
So what’s the best way to get the advertising sales job of your dreams?
Ellie: Leave your ego at the door and start somewhere. If you haven’t been selling digital, your past success isn’t really going to help you get a great sales job in ad tech, let alone help you negotiate a high salary. Experience in ad tech is the best possible way to land your dream sales role, and you can’t get experience by waiting in the wings. Plan to start low in the org chart, and low on the pay scale. Learn the business, be open-minded about the type of company/product/role that you would love, and actively take on projects that build your resume toward that opportunity.
How important are recruiters in the job search process?
Ellie: Recruiters, and the opportunities they send your way, should be make up a portion of the job search process. The best recruiters have a pulse on the industry and understand which companies are attracting top industry talent. They can provide a unique perspective on salary, equity, and other benefits.
I also think a healthy amount of personal networking is always important. I make note of impressive people I have met in the industry, and try to keep on eye on how they navigate through the industry. Top talent tends to end up at the best companies, so understanding which companies are losing talent and which are gaining is important to know when searching for a new job.
What’s the one common mistake sales candidates make when interviewing for a new role?
Ellie: Failing to properly follow up. A sales candidate should follow up within 24 hours of an interview, with every single person involved in the process, even if you spoke for only 15 minutes with someone from another department. Ultimately, the final decision to hire will fall on the hiring manager, but neglecting the other team members that were a part of the interview process is a big mistake. They are likely well-respected by the hiring manager, and they wouldn’t be a part of the interview process unless their feedback was going to be important to the hire.
Each follow-up note should be well-written and tailored to the specific items you discussed with that person. I have seen some great sales candidates passed up for a role because of their poor interview follow-up.