Selling the Whole Story

Last week we wrote about selling Internet advertising in a world of broad and diverse media choices, and the importance of understanding how online fits into the larger media and marketing landscape.

That piece prompted a call from an old friend of ours, an advertising executive with deep experience in traditional and new media. He commented that most of the interactive sales reps he sees never need that knowledge, because their entire sales effort is limited to the interactive media planners and buyers who are only concerned with allocating the interactive budget; folks who never think about the rest of the media equation.

Great point, we agreed, if a sales person is willing to limit her sphere of influence to the last point in the decision process, it might be OK to operate with limited knowledge about the other decisions being made.

But do we want to be salespeople or order takers?

Lets face it, there are many steps in the advertising purchase decision process. Someone at the client’s office or agency has to determine which audience to target, and with which message. Then a goal for the campaign will be crafted, and a total budget set. Someone then looks at the various marketing communications options (direct mail, public relations, advertising, channel support) and decisions are made about which make sense for achieving the campaigns objectives.

Budget allocations are made by audience segments, media categories and creative executions. It is at about this time that the interactive media planners and buyers get involved with the demanding job of selecting the buys that best achieve the goals set forth for the part of the budget they safeguard.

The process is not set in stone and varies in every situation. But somewhere along the way, the numerous choices listed above have to be made. And every one of those decision points represents an opportunity to shape the direction of the ultimate buy.

If you believe your site is right for a given advertisers campaign, but the buyer isnt looking for your demographic profile, you will likely find it hard to make the cut. But provide insights about the buying power of your audience earlier in the process, proving why the demographics you reach are good prospects before the audience profile is finalized, and you stand a better chance of shaping the ultimate direction of the campaign.

Do you know what types of creative produce the best results on your site? If you wait until the creative approach is determined, you are going to have an uphill sell the media department generally has responsibility for placing the planned creative, not changing the creative approach. Get your contribution and useful information into the decision process earlier, and with the individuals responsible for that part of the planning, and your odds of influencing the outcome go way up.

If you want to be a proactive, solutions-oriented, sales consultant; if you want to impact the growth potential of your site in a big way, with larger and more strategic deals, you need to find ways to get into the larger decision making process. And for that, you need to know more about the whole set of decisions an advertiser is forced to make. Understanding the other media options is just one piece of it.

Over the next several weeks, well take a look at some of the other areas of marketing expertise great ad salespeople focus on attention to any one of which can improve your close rates, order sizes and client satisfaction.

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