The issues of viewability and fraud shared center stage at the recent IAB conference, from what I could follow from afar. Viewability is a pain point for publishers because they will lose money with this standard before they start to make more because of it. Fraud is another issue entirely -- and unfortunately, hereditary to online. There are no bots turning on TVs and reading magazines (yet).
If our industry can solve these problems and become known for selling ads that are seen versus merely shown, online display advertising stands to gain share significantly from other media that can’t say the same thing.
Advice for how to be a great media salesperson was also dispensed at this conference. The audience was told that “great digital sellers are marketing-oriented, not advertising-driven.” Additionally, great digital sellers “organize around programs and solution bundles, rather than responding to media plans and RFPs.”
This kind of high-end strategic advice makes for great theater. However, any salespeople who told their managers they would no longer respond to RFPs and would only sell marketing solutions, not ad-based programs, would have a target placed on their back for the next round of layoffs.
Selling a big program that includes non-ad-placement-related value is a fantastic goal. But the reality is that you’ll sell those programs maybe once in a calendar quota-bearing year if you’re lucky. Everyone wants to sell a whole pie, but to stay in business, you have to sell slices, too.
The truth is, there’s no one formula for being great at selling media. For starters, in the history of sales calls, none have ever been exactly the same, so a single approach to accomplishing success isn't plausible. Secondly each salesperson employed in this business has unique strengths and weaknesses -- because they’re human. One approach can never fit all.
Rick Boyce, who is often credited with selling the first banner, was my boss when I first became a national sales director. When I asked him for advice on managing a sales team, he responded thoughtfully, “Salespeople want to drive in their own lanes. Let them. Your job is to make sure they’re all traveling on the same highway.”
If there's one consistent characteristic among all salespeople, it’s that at some point, they get in their own way. Staying motivated day in and day out is the core determinant of success or failure in sales. All other advice is important some days and irrelevant on others.
The reality is that time starts out as your friend but quickly becomes your enemy when it gets wasted. So here is some commonsense advice on getting out of your own way that complements the great strategic advice I heard on how to be great at selling media.
1. Stop checking Facebook at work. It’s an addiction you need to own and then beat.
2. Stop focusing on personal emails and text messages at work. I’m not suggesting you should ignore attempts to coordinate who’s picking up the kids -- but so much personal communication has seeped into the workday, the work part is suffering.
3. Internal emails are poison. To get people to help facilitate a sale internally, you need to speak, listen and persuade them to help you. Emails do none of that.
4. Stop having lunch with anyone not capable of buying from you. If you’re not taking a buyer to lunch, then deliver lunch instead. Let a buying group know you’re dropping off something creative and tasty at noon. Get yourself logged into security and into that waiting area. No telling who you will see, but I guarantee whoever it is, will be more helpful then another sales rep sitting across the table from you.
5. Read. Fill your newfound downtime reading your site, studying your site metrics, and reading your competitors’ and your clients’ sites and related content much more than you do now. Doing so will make you smarter and hungrier to design those bigger marketing-centric solutions. Also, when your boss walks by your desk, you won’t have to hit the close button the way you do now.
Everyone talks about a desire to lose some weight, but very few reach that goal. So what's the secret to losing five pounds? You try every day. Same thing goes for being great at selling media. It’s not easy, but it’s not complicated, either. It’s on you to stay motivated every day because if you don’t, you could lose your job this year. That’s real life, not just conference stage talk.