A top buyer’s five tips to media sellers
Selling is hard work, and it's gotten harder in recent years
February 1, 2013
By Patricia Wilson
I would wager both media buyers and sellers would agree that the ad buying process has become more difficult in the past five years.
The marketplace is complex, driven by a proliferation of media choices, lack of reliable research, decrease in media buyer/seller training programs, integration of social and mobile buying into the media planning equation, and the simple lack of time needed to get all the necessary work done in a single day.
The pressure on both buy side and sell side are enormous.
In 20-plus years of planning and buying media, I’ve worked with amazing media sales reps and with some who fell short. I’ve watched a lot of money slide off the table with the short sellers.
Here are five tips for media sellers that could help close the deal:
1. Do your homework before calling on a media buyer.
As a buyer, we work closely with our advertising clients to understand their business goals, their objectives in executing ad campaigns, their customer insights, and the competitive playing field.
If a media sales professional hasn’t done any homework on the client, the competitive landscape or the challenges we face, then how can they possibly help “solve the problem?”
2. Spend as much time listening as you do selling.
Even if you’ve done your homework, it’s likely you will learn something valuable at a meeting with the buyer or even on a phone call. If you spend the entire time explaining your technology or media, you’ve missed the opportunity to understand how to offer up the solution.
Solve, don’t just sell. A partner is someone who is invested in the client’s success, not just the sale.
3. Try to determine who the decision makers are on a media buy: on the client side, the agency side.
If you have not worked hard to understand the relationship dynamics throughout an organization, you will be at risk of losing a buy. I realize this can sometimes be difficult, and with a limited sales force, there is an instinct to go to just one person who is “making the buy.”
In reality, media plans go up the chain in an agency and then up the chain at a client, and many people weigh in on its merits, its efficiencies, its content, its value. If you are only calling on a media buyer, you may be at risk up the chain.
This is especially true for large-budget scenarios.
On the other hand, if you are only calling on the CMO and not the media buyer, you will almost certainly risk inclusion in the plan. This is not a power struggle but a realization that the client has hired the media team to do the analysis and crafting of the plan.
4. Ask questions of the RFP and try to understand the top selection criteria for the media buy.
We are always pushing our clients and our buyers to clearly state the selection criteria so everyone understands how the media proposals will be evaluated. With so many factors determining a “good” RFP, it’s critical to determine what variables are weighted the highest.
CPMs and efficiencies are always a critical factor, but as noise increases , engagement becomes more valuable. Push the media planner/buyer to help you understand how your RFP will be evaluated.
5. Make it easy for media planners/buyers to find you and your sales team.
I cannot tell you how many times the past five years we tried to find a key sales rep at a digital company with extreme frustration. Find a way to make it easier to get your phone number and contact information.
The marketplace demands are greater than ever, for both media buyers and sellers. The pure number of available media impressions for purchase has increased at an alarming rate. Sophisticated measurement tools are not keeping pace with the marketplace.
The good news is that brands are still spending record amounts of money on paid media. The bad news is that every digital company now has paid advertising as its cornerstone for revenue, and that means more sales reps in the marketplace. And the legacy brands are all selling across platforms.
The goal is to serve the brand client together with the agency planner/buyer — to solve problems, not just sell.
Patricia Wilson is the president of Brandcottage, an independent agency based in Connecticut. She has worked as a media director at agencies in Los Angeles, Atlanta, and New York, including Ogilvy, Y&R, Della Femina and BaylessCronin.
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