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Austin Benn - Changing face of Media Sales whitepaper

Confidence, passion, self-belief, gift of the gab; employers have always focused on character traits over knowledge or qualifications. But media sales is changing. And those changes are having a profound impact on what the modern media salesperson needs to be successful in their career.

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Austin Benn - Changing face of Media Sales whitepaper

  1. 1. THE CHANGING FACE OF MEDIA SALES AND HOW SALESPEOPLE CAN ADAPT www.austinbenn.co.uk
  2. 2. Confidence, passion, self-belief, gift of the gab; employers have always focused on character traits over knowledge or qualifications. But media sales is changing. And those changes are having a profound impact on what the modern media salesperson needs to be successful in their career. The aim of this whitepaper Using the latest research and insights into the future of media sales, this study will examine how it’s changing – primarily due to digital developments. It will then explore the knowledge media salespeople need to remain relevant; knowledge that is affecting the buying and selling of media space dramatically. For salespeople, this is a timely and essential reminder that traditional sales skills – vital as they are – will not make up for a lack of digital sales knowledge. Your buyers are digital, and your sales channels are increasingly digital too. So if you don’t join them, you’ll simply be left behind. SELLING HAS ALWAYS BEEN ABOUT PERSONALITY www.austinbenn.co.uk
  3. 3. Programmatic buying and selling: man vs machine? Programmatic essentially means automated. So in the world of media sales, programmatic buying means the automated placement and optimisation of media space. Programmatic buying is a completely inevitable development. Advertisers and businesses have an inconceivable amount of data to help them decide on what advertising space they should purchase. A person, no matter how intelligent, could never aggregate this information as quickly and reliably as a machine can. Media sales was always destined for the emergence of programmatic buying and selling. To give you an idea of how things are changing, in the US last year 20% of all media sales were conducted programmatically. Meanwhile, media buying giants Magna Global has pledged to automate 50% of its clients’buying by 2016. American Express has gone even further, aiming for a long-term goal of making 100% of their display advertising budget programmatic. It isn’t necessarily bad news for the media salesperson, however. Advertising Age, in their summary, suggest that this automation will simply leave salespeople to focus on what they’re good at. But undoubtedly, a knowledge of what programmatic is, and how it affects decision-making, is essential. Integrated media Gone are the days when a print ad was just a print ad. The lines between different media spaces are blurring. A print ad is a digital ad. And if an ad is media-neutral, it can be adapted for any channel. In short, businesses and advertisers that focus on specific media channels, one by one, are falling behind their competitors. Every buying and selling decision has to consider the multitude of formats that could be used for each campaign. Selling is no longer one-way Social media is also transforming the way people make buying decisions. Increasingly, consumers buy products based on peer-to-peer recommendations. That’s because people are always more likely to trust friends than they are businesses. And consumers now expect to interact with the businesses that sell to them. They demand dialogue, and that dialogue influences the entire process. All of this inevitably matters in the world of media sales. Traditional sales channels that don’t adapt to customers’expectation to interact will fail. And media salespeople that are unable to offer options to their customers that reflect their social habits will fail too. As some experts have eloquently put it, we have moved from the information age to the communication age. Big data Big data essentially means lots of data, from multiple sources – more information, and importantly, better information. It’s the major driver behind the onset of programmatic buying and selling, and it’s removing the need to speculate when making buying and selling decisions. It’s a phrase that’s been hyped enormously over recent years, and there are thousands of blog posts that have theorised about the consequences of big data. What we know for sure is that big data is allowing buyers, in every industry, to make more informed decisions, and more quickly. That’s because big data also means real-time data – accurate, relevant information as and when it appears. HOW IS MEDIA SALES CHANGING? www.austinbenn.co.uk
  4. 4. So, sales is becoming more automated and data-driven, while at the same time, increasingly integrated and social. For salespeople, simply knowing that these changes are afoot is not enough. Salespeople need to understand the nuts and bolts of these changes, and how they affect their customers. And more importantly, salespeople need to remove the jargon for their customers. With this knowledge in hand, they can not only adapt, but prosper. Automation means better information for you and your customers Programmatic really just means automated. And as far as your customers are concerned, the automation of where they buy media space just means that they’ll be better informed about where, and when, to do it. It’s all about data, and its power and popularity is inevitable. Rather than being suspicious of the geeks in your office that focus on it, you should work more closely with them to understand where that data is coming from and what it’s saying. Because automation and big data will help you too. Automation can allow you to enter a pitch knowing, conclusively, and in real time, where your customer’s money is best spent. And automation isn’t expensive either – it actually cuts time and money for you and your customer. It removes a lot of ad operation tasks and manual data collection, leaving you to do what you do best. Above all, research what programmatic means and immerse yourself in the subject. In a recent survey of salespeople and marketers in the US, only 26% knew what it meant. With media buyers increasingly aware of its potential importance, this represents a massive opportunity to step ahead of your competitors. Integrated media means you need to understand every media channel No channel is isolated, because of digital. Firstly, that means that your relationships can no longer be transactional – a quick-fix sale won’t work. Relationships will have to be stronger, as all buying decisions should increasingly be multi-channel. But also, you have to understand each channel, how it works, and what it can offer your customer. You’ll need to start familiarising yourself with things like: • Google AdWords, a form of pay per click (PPC) advertising. Most social platforms now have a similar platform for creating and targeting ads to specific demographics. All of these forms of paid advertising rely on you knowing exactly who your audience is. This includes their age, where they live, who they work for, their job title and any interests or hobbies. AdWords are bid for, and then are charged at a certain amount per click – and can be capped at an agreed total number of clicks • Social media PPC, which operates similarly to Google AdWords but runs through social media channels – the most established being LinkedIn and Facebook. On Facebook, you can sponsor a page, post, or run an ad on various parts of a user’s‘feed’. LinkedIn is similar, and on Twitter you can create ‘promoted’tweets or profiles. The added selling point of social PPC for your customer is that, beyond a potential sale, you may also get likes, follows and engagement – so it can be a useful way of building brand loyalty. • Cookies, which were first developed in 1994 as part of the solution for creating virtual online shopping carts as they helped track which items users had selected. Cookies are a piece of tracking code which websites can (with your permission) store on your computer, allowing them to identify your activity online. They have allowed for hyper-targeted marketing – which from your customers’point of view is essential for the future of their business. • QR codes (Quick Response Codes), which bring the physical and digital space together. They’re essentially a barcode, typically scanned by a smartphone, which then converts to a website URL or relevant imagery. They’re not only convenient for consumers, but they tend to be an effective way of improving the conversion rate. This is merely an introduction – the list of tools and innovations you could benefit from understanding is endless. But it’s certainly worth regularly looking at blogs like clickz or econsultancy, where you’ll find up-to-date insights into digital marketing and emerging channels, as well as a thorough back catalogue of essential knowledge. The right decision is never as clear as it used to be Before the internet, advertising decisions were more straightforward. You could explain to a client that posters were generating more business than radio for them, so more budget should be allocated to posters. Simple. The huge variety of digital channels makes that decision infinitely more complicated – and buyers know this. That makes it essential for you to understand the benefits and risks of every sales channel, and the huge variety of data you can use to help them make their decisions. You need to spend more time with your marketing team, and find out the specific detail on what’s working and why. HOW CAN SALESPEOPLE ADAPT? www.austinbenn.co.uk
  5. 5. So now you can go into a meeting and explain that big data really just means lots of data, and that programmatic buying just means automation. You can cut through the jargon and get straight to what you want to do – sell. But it’s important to remember that this digital knowledge isn’t just a security net to ensure you don’t get caught out. This knowledge is becoming indispensable, and can help boost your sales career. So, once you’re suitably digitally savvy, you need to think about personal branding. Because, like a company, we all have our own brands – which is especially relevant for people who sell. Start thinking of yourself as a brand It might sound daft, but it’s useful to think of yourself as a brand – an authentic, consistent and unique offering to everyone you work with. Think about what it is that defines you, and what makes you genuinely different. Give yourself an online audit When promoting digital know-how, the most important thing is that you’re practicing what you preach. Google yourself, and examine all of your digital profiles. Do they sound like you? Are they active? Are they well written? Impressing a customer with your knowledge of social media as a sales tool is great, but you’ll lose all credibility if they follow you on Twitter and find out you haven’t tweeted in 2 years. Consider a personal website When appropriate, personal websites can be an effective way of controlling your online brand. You can put everything in one place, and create relevant keywords and regularly updated content to ensure you rank well on search engines. Create and share content that’s relevant to your brand Sharing every irrelevant and mundane story you see on social media will do little for your personal brand. But consistently creating and sharing relevant, up-to-date insights into the areas and subjects you’re passionate about will give you digital integrity. It will also give you followers. Link with well-established and likeminded brands Your personal brand will only be improved if you’re connected to well-reputed brands. There are many ways to do this beyond simply following the key players in your sector or industry. See if you can write a guest blog for a relevant company, and write thoughtful comments on appropriate social feeds. Think about your story You’ll hear lots of marketers talking about a brand’s‘story’– it’s become an area of obsession for businesses and entrepreneurs across the globe. What it really means is that consumers increasingly care about the people and ethics behind businesses. So for your personal brand, your story isn’t just hitting sales targets and developing businesses – it’s the simple, human stuff. It’s your background, why you got into sales and what motivates you. It’s also the quirks – the things that are unique to you. HOW CAN SALES PEOPLE PROMOTE THEIR DIGITAL SKILLS? www.austinbenn.co.uk
  6. 6. You need to embrace your inner geek, and get to grips with the digital innovations that are changing the way buyers make decisions. And once you develop this knowledge, keep on top of it – digital innovations never stop happening. If you can do this, you’ll become a more complete salesperson, and a salesperson better suited to the digital world. If you’re interested in taking your sales career to the next level, get in touch on 0203 0964520 or email enquiries@austinbenn.co.uk. We work with a variety of exciting businesses that are always looking for smart, ambitious salespeople. www.austinbenn.co.uk

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