Sellers Have Their Say

Last week, in my pursuit of media buying happiness (an elusive state contingent on one’s satisfaction with her media sellers), I listed the top desires on most every buyer’s wish list. To be fair, I asked sellers to share traits and behaviors they’d like to see in the buyers with whom they work.

If the fervor with which some sellers responded is any indication, it’s safe to say finding the perfect media buyer is a rare thing. I’m now sure such a discovery would launch a cross-country pilgrimage to worship at the über-buyer’s feet, or at least register a collective sense of workplace satisfaction.

All the messages I received had common threads. Most related to abolishing some universal habits that waste media sellers’ time, leaving them frustrated and annoyed. Here are a few of the more egregious symptoms, sure to sound familiar regardless of which side of the business you’re in. Tips on how buyers can put things right are supplied as well.

Outline Your Objectives

The relationship between buyers and sellers is a strange one. We work toward the common goal of campaign success yet don’t always provide one another with the information required to plan and execute successful campaigns. Just as sellers won’t always volunteer ad format success rates or case studies that could help a buyer plan, buyers are guilty of withholding information their contacts need to deliver.

Sales reps say formulating an effective ad strategy is impossible without a minimum amount of information. The client’s target audience, budget range, campaign goals, and any already developed strategy to achieve these goals is a must. If buyers don’t already have this information when approaching their site reps, they should work with clients to get it. Without it, planning an on-target campaign is a shot in the dark.

Allow Ample Time for RFPs

Media buyers are notorious for requesting proposals with only a day or two’s notice. Sometimes, this hinges on our own busy schedules. More often than not, it’s a consequence of dealing with a difficult client, who in turn is at the mercy of an unsystematic company. Regardless of the reason, this leaves sellers exasperated and forced to juggle other clients and campaigns trying meet unreasonable deadlines.

Media buyers must remember account executives don’t pull customized ad programs out of a hat. They, too, rely on others to obtain statistics, rates, and inventory counts. Their own internal approval process can cause unforeseen delays. Whenever possible, buyers should make requests in advance. At least provide enough information to get the seller started on the research portion of the proposal. If that’s not possible, be prepared to accept delays. Don’t make delivery promises to your client that place impossible demands on your seller and yourself.

For Goodness Sake, Return Our Calls!

If sellers were adamant about one point, this is it. After outlining a media strategy, putting other clients on hold to produce a request for proposal (RFP) by deadline, and diligently following up, sales reps expect (and deserve) updates. If campaign planning is completed, buyers should follow up with their reps to let them know whether their site made the media plan. Even if planning is still underway and decisions aren’t finalized, respond to inquiries and let them know how things stand. It’s common courtesy. All it takes is an email. Even the busiest buyer has time for that.

If you’ve cut them out of the plan, tell them why. Without feedback and commentary to work with, sites can’t improve their product and service offerings. If we tell them what we’d like to see changed, whether it’s high ad rates or intimidating campaign minimums, they may just evolve into exactly what buyers and their clients are seeking.

Media sellers want to be helpful, flexible, and understanding. They require guidance, courtesy, and consideration in return. Next time you’re dealing with a sales rep, keep these points in mind. A relationship built on mutual respect and understanding will pay off for all parties involved.

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