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.
Austin Benn - Changing face of Media Sales whitepaper
FACE OF MEDIA SALES
AND HOW SALESPEOPLE CAN ADAPT
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.
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
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.
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
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 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
So, sales is becoming more
automated and data-driven,
while at the same time,
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
And more importantly, salespeople need
to remove the jargon for their customers.
With this knowledge in hand, they can not
only adapt, but prosper.
for you and your
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
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
means you need to
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
You need to spend more time with your
marketing team, and ﬁnd out the speciﬁc
detail on what’s working and why.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
THEIR DIGITAL SKILLS?
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
We work with a variety of exciting
businesses that are always looking
for smart, ambitious salespeople.