Ad Sales Pros as Marketers

Sales and marketing have long been seen as opposite ends of a spectrum: marketing deals with “mass” and abstractions, and sales is hands-on with customers, bringing in the revenue. Some believe salespeople pitch, negotiate and close, whereas marketers analyze, theorize, segment, interpret and implement larger-scale strategies.

That distinction is fairly insulting to both groups, but it’s how a lot of salespeople look at the world.

In the case of advertising sales, however, the salesperson is selling marketing solutions. Marketers buy advertising, and to effectively sell anything, it’s advisable to learn to think like your customer. So, effective and successful ad salespeople always learn to see the world through a marketer’s eyes. In taking on the marketing mantle, and bridging the false gap between marketing and sales, they get to be much better salespeople.

Hard to imagine buying a car from a salesman who doesn’t drive, or a television set from a salesperson who thinks broadcasters are evil. To be informative and helpful, the salesperson in any field needs to have some understanding and appreciation of what goes into our purchase decision, how we’ll use the product, what features might make a difference, and whatever doubts may be forestalling a decision. Enthusiasm about the buy is a big plus, too.

If that’s true in consumer buying, why would it be less important for business purchase decisions? It isn’t. It is a truism that the more informed and excited a salesperson is about the solution s/he is selling, the greater the chance of a sale.

Lots of Internet ad reps are well-informed about their site, and about the Internet in general, which is a good start. But marketers are only buying any site as a part of a marketing solution the business has a need to reach some group of individuals with some sort of message to achieve some pre-determined result. Only by understanding those marketing strategies can you expect to really understand the needs a buyer is hoping to fill.

While the ad buyer or media planner may be looking for lots of impressions among a particular demographic group, the marketing goals underlying that request are almost certainly more complex.

The ad reps who take the time to understand the real marketing goals, and to find ways for their sites to meet those goals, will propose more suitable programs, theyll return more appropriate RFPs, theyll know which five of the hundreds of details about their offering are most meaningful.

Taking the time to understand a business’s marketing challenges and objectives is a very high-return investment for the aspiring advertising sales professional.

Have you ever read a marketing book? If not, now would be a good time there are several favorites listed on our site at www.ryanwhiteman, under “resources.”

Have you been reading the business press to get a feel for the challenges various marketers face? What about the advertising press, to learn more about the way different advertisers think about how advertising fits into the larger marketing picture? Are you listening to marketing professionals to find out how they see their jobs, or are you filling all your time together pitching your sale?

Great salespeople are lifelong students: The more we learn about our clients’ and our prospects’ real agendas, the better well be at offering them solutions that really work. When we provide that kind of value to our customers, we become problem solvers, not pitchmen, and all great salespeople know that being a problem solver is the right thing to be.

Next week, well start looking more deeply into what marketers think about.

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