The Media-Sales Relationship Dynamic: Top-10 Dos and Don'ts

I’ve been in the media industry for over six years in New York and San Diego at various ad agencies, and one of my favorite parts of the job is my interaction with sales reps. It could be argued that we work in the best industry in the world, because we’re tasked with innovating, strategizing and socializing. The list below includes dos and don’ts for both media buyers and planners and sales reps, based on my own observations, heart-to-hearts with some of my favorite reps, and conversations with fellow media people. If we all follow these simple rules, we can minimize frustrations and have more time for happy hours.

Media Buyer Dos

1.     Do your best to make sure someone from your team responds to all inquiries – even if it’s just to say no, thanks.

2.     Send prompt and sincere responses to proposals. Reps would rather hear “no” with good reason than be left in the dark. If they know why they didn’t make the plan, they can use the feedback to improve their product.



3.     Be proactive in learning about new publishers and their capabilities. Never stop changing your ideas and strategies, and always stay engaged in meetings.

4.     Be prompt and collaborate. Answer RFP questions right away, so reps have time to customize their proposal to your clients’ unique needs.

5.     Be respectful and responsive. Respect reps’ time and position, and realize how much effort goes into filling out a sales proposal.

Media Buyer Don’ts

1.     Don’t accept lavish gifts and dinners if you know you’ll never work with the dispenser of those gifts.

2.     Don’t pay more attention to your phone or email than you pay to reps during meetings. If you know a client might call during a meeting, let the rep know beforehand.

3.     Don’t ask for tickets and gifts. If you do go to an event with a rep, don’t ditch her. Respect the dynamic and remember you are her guest.

4.     Don’t play “hurry up and wait.” If you send an RFP, then have a long waiting period before you know the plan, try to send status emails so reps can stay in the loop.

5.     Don’t give reps false hope in a presentation. If a plan isn’t right for your client, tell the truth. It saves everyone’s time in the long run.  

Sales Rep Dos

1.     Read RFP directions thoroughly. A simple oversight or an incorrect template can seriously harm an otherwise sound submission. 

2.     Know whom you’re talking to – and what clients a buyer has. It’s okay to ask before the meeting. LinkedIn is also a great way to find out who we are and what we’re doing.

3.     Build a relationship by being a resource. We want partners we can trust, so aim to be a partner, not a vendor. It’s a cluttered marketplace. Help us navigate!

4.     Research internally before reaching out. Does the agency already have a rep from your company? Overlap happens all too often, and it can be a frustrating situation for all.

5.     Be proactive with optimizations. Sending us ideas before we have a chance to come up with them shows you’re putting forth outstanding effort.

Sales Rep Don’ts

1.     Don’t be unnecessarily overzealous. It’s great to keep in touch, but make sure you are respectful while doing so. 

2.     Don't let one bad deal get in the way of the next one. Repeat business can hinge on thorough execution and delivery of a preexisting plan.

3.     Don’t try and force a platform on clients where it doesn’t make sense.

4.     Don’t present an agency team with a template format for all your clients. We need individualized plans that meet specific needs.

5.     Don’t hold a grudge. We’re trying to make the right decisions for our clients. If reps respect our decisions, we’re much more likely to consider future pitches with open ears.

1 comment about "The Media-Sales Relationship Dynamic: Top-10 Dos and Don'ts ".
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  1. Diane Osgerchian from SMB Media/, February 27, 2014 at 11:18 p.m.

    Excellent and very well put!

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