Sales-People - Read This!

About once a year I write an article that recaps my opinions and suggestions for how sales people can better interact with agencies. Every time I write on this topic, it becomes the most heavily responded-to topic on the message boards (obviously there are a bunch of sales people reading this column and who like to express their opinions).

For this entry I want to say congratulations! I have to say that over the last six to 12 months I have seen a change in the world of sales people whom I deal with and it's a change that continues to show signs of the maturation of our industry.

Through 1995 to 2000, while the industry was truly in its infancy, the sales reps were eager and green and selling a product that had not fully developed. The tactics were questionable in many cases, and the product was somewhat questionable as well. There were a thousand reps selling a thousand sites and many of them were not destined for success. Dialing for dollars and cold calling methods were applied to every fly-by-night Web site that popped up. I would field at least six random phone calls from sales people who never took the time to listen to what we were doing. They only wanted to sell, sell, sell. Now that the world around has sustained something of a correction, I must say that time has proven to provide experience and professionalism to the sales teams that call upon us.



The sales people that I deal with today are more considerate of our time, they are much more knowledgeable about their products and the industry as a whole, and they are more willing to build a relationship rather than just pitch and sell all day long. The tried and true methods for sales are what breed success. Relationships sustain business. Success and focus on key metrics sustain business. The sales people that I see are much stronger than they were just two years ago. They listen first, they inquire about our needs, and then tailor their proposals. They take time and understand that to build a relationship you must have time and patience. These are generally two elements that typically fall by the wayside when times are great as well as when times are tough.

Part of this improvement comes from the fact that the people who stuck it out and rode the wave while it came crashing down are the people with passion. These are the people who came into the industry for the right reasons. They jumped on the bandwagon because of the opportunity to build something meaningful and because they saw a challenge they wanted to undertake. The people who jumped on board for the quick money were never here for the right reasons, and most of these people have since moved on. The people who stayed may or may not have also reaped the financial rewards, but they remained in the hopes of a continued challenge and success.

As these sales teams improve and the metrics for online advertising continue to shift towards a marriage of DR and Brand accountability, we are poised to continue to grow into the future. The next step to take for the best sales people will be to start truly offering integrated opportunities that work online and offline together. For a sales person to continue to improve in this market, they must continue to gain an understanding of how media vehicles interact with one another. Integration is the direction in which agencies are being tasked to move, and the best sales people will recognize, anticipate and develop these types of packages before we ask for them. If your property does not have multi-media opportunities, then take a look at the world around you and determine potential partnerships you could create that will provide you with cross-media opportunities. As the landscape continues to clutter, the strongest messages are those that are seen in multiple formats, and the agencies will always take advantage of things that make our lives easier (we are, after all, a lazy bunch). If one-stop shopping for cross-media opportunities presents themselves, we will typically utilize them.

So I leave you this week with a "pat on the back" and a thanks for continuing to improve in your methods and ways for dealing with us. Keep up the good work and don't rest on your laurels, because the world is continuing to change around you.

And thanks for not "dialing for dollars" anymore.

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