Today, media sales people invest nearly 100 percent of their time building media agency relationships. It makes sense, right? Meetings, meals, and drinks with media agencies often lead to an RFP and sometimes a sale. But the climate is changing.
There are countless companies trying to sell similar things -- more than 217 different companies sold at least one million video ads in 2012. It's hard on us agency folk to tell one company apart from another. Add that to the fact that online inventory growth is outpacing demand growth and you have a recipe for online video CPMs declining (10 percent to 15 percent in 2012).
Winning in this environment means more than just product innovation -- it's time to innovate sales. It's time to move up stream in the process and take out the creatives!
If you are in the media sales business, here are some tips.
Meet with creative and media
There is an old saying about stocks, "if we wait for the news to break then it is already too late to benefit." I believe the same holds true in media. If you wait until the RFP then you are probably not keen on the idea and hence lose negotiation leverage. You need to move upstream and meet with creative teams to be part of the ideation process and idea itself.
Bring different people to the table
It's rare to find a sales person who is a whiz at media and creative. You need to bring creative people to the table even if that means hiring some new positions. Take the lead from YouTube and AOL who are hiring creatives in-house to talk about more than just banners.
Throw away the sales decks and template offerings
Don't ask me or a creative to sponsor crap. We want to co-create and build things together. I know that integrated marketing or sales people spend a lot of time invested in building packages and decks but I believe that time is better invested co-creating a package and deck with creative agencies.
Change your approach
No one can call bull better than a creative so don't try the typical sales song and dance. Creatives will be more thankful for your entertainment because it is new to them. Be honest at all times.
Change your incentive structure
It typically takes three months to a year for an idea to sell and money to flow in -- and four out of five ideas don't get sold through to clients. You need to change your sales force incentives to get the behavior you need and evolve your sales model.
Changing how you do business will enable you to stand out from the crowd and reap larger long-term rewards. As others end up in bidding wars, you will be seen in the eyes of clients as a "strategic partner" worth more than just an impression. Lastly, it will lead to more awards and recognition for your company that will help to win new clients. The cycle will become a prosperous journey if you have the guts to approach sales differently.
George Hammer is VP group director of digital strategy at Digitas.
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