Woe The Digital Sale: End-Of-Year Deals?

An agency person says, "Here we go again. Every November I get presented lots of 'great deals,' 'amazing opportunities' and 'special offers' on media plans that of course have to start right away. Do these salespeople know that hitting THEIR sales quota is not MY primary goal?


Jason says:  Quota? I know not of what you speak, but I apologize for any "transgressions" we may have made. OKAY, we're as guilty as a world-famous golfer on this one. 

Is it so wrong to offer a few deals to entice some last -minute discretionary budget allocation? After all, such offers would not be made were they not occasionally accepted.  There is nothing wrong with a salesperson wanting to make her goal and snag that bonus. And we know that sometimes clients need to spend to meet their goals, be it hitting a spend budget or driving a result. 

However, this is a tricky sales tactic. Here is a little secret: sellers train buyers to buy advertising in a certain manner. For instance, if a seller gives a buyer five days to take advantage of a deal, and then closes the door on the fifth day, that buyer knows that next time, he had better not procrastinate.



But sellers beware, the other side of the coin is that by offering discounts and deals at the same time of year, every year, you may garner some extra moolah now, but you also risk doing nothing more than training clients to wait for the deal that inevitably comes. What if the marketer would have paid full freight? This is particularly pertinent for holiday campaigns where that advertiser is going to tee off, discounted or not. You just gave an unnecessary discount, sucker. So one must weigh the possible outcomes with each client in mind, just as one must choose between the cocktail waitress and the wife.

Salespeople, please keep this in mind throughout the year. Any time you do something repeatedly, it may develop into a sales pattern. This can allow your client to figure out how to get the better of you. Not to suggest that buyers are animals, but you may be training your clients the wrong way and you may never have the tiger by the tail. As for our questioner, sorry it bugs you.

Amy, please back me up that budgets appear toward the end of the year that "need" to be spent before 12/31. What do you think, should salespeople keep offering year-end deals?

Amy says: Budgets do sometimes "appear" towards the end of the year -- but not necessarily in this economy.  And I'm not sure if clients can really be trained!

For some categories who do major upfronts or basically plan a year in advance, I think there is less flexibility.  But a lot of clients do plan constantly --  and depending on how their revenue is flowing, opportunistic dollars can appear in Q4.  And since online is such an easy to implement media (yes, I'm really saying that in print), clients are inclined to use it to get the money out the door. 

A more compelling reason for pitching last-minute deals is lack of available inventory.  Homepages are increasingly bought further in advance, for instance.  The last-minute guys are sometimes stuck with limited choices.  A special offer program or deal may be just what a buyer needs to really make his/her Q4 campaign rock!

I never thought of these last-minute deals as a way for any one salesperson to meet his/her goal.  I always thought it was just the site trying to make a buck before the year closes.  You can't really fault anyone for that.  But another reason could be that an advertiser backed out at the last minute.  Sites have the right to look to recoup the budget they lost.  And of course, as a buyer I would never say, don't offer us discounted inventory!

For better or for worse, buyers and sellers are inextricably linked.  As the industry grows and evolves, last minute-offers from sellers -- and buyers snapping them up -- may become a year-round thing.  I can't wait to see what happens!

1 comment about "Woe The Digital Sale: End-Of-Year Deals?".
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  1. David Carlick from Carlick, December 28, 2009 at 5:15 p.m.

    It isn't always the salesperson pressuring for an extra sales commission. Often the publisher has a desire to get some additional revenue to top off the year. Planners are right in wanting things to be orderly, but as we all know, empty seats (impressions) are wasted revenue opportunities and last minute deals are not merely greedy but logical.

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