What Do Agency Account People Want?

We’ve been writing here about the various ad buying decision points at the advertiser and at the ad agency. Regular readers now have a good feel for how a media department is likely to be structured, and how to effectively serve your customers and prospects in media. But who else impacts the buy?

How about a show of hands of those ad salespeople who work closely with the account group at your prospects’ agencies?

Not a lot of hands in the air out there…

If you were to poll ad agency account executives as to how often they meet with media sales reps, you’d get a very low number. Many will express surprise at the very thought of interacting with media salespeople “That’s what the media group does!”

But the most effective ad sales reps understand the information needs of the account team, and in serving those needs, win insights and influence that help build better client programs, which result in better sales.

The account team is primarily responsible for client management. It’s their job to see that clients’ needs are met and their marketing goals achieved. The account team also makes sure that the agency is achieving appropriate billings and profit from each client. Account people are essentially the ad agencies’ sales force, and as such they have many of the same job challenges that ad salespeople have: communicating regularly with clients (often multiple times a day), knowing the client’s business, staying current on fast-changing markets for clients in a wide variety of fields, being an information source the client relies upon, and much more.

Account executives have a range of accounts to handle, in unrelated industries and business lines, and the never-ending need to keep themselves well-informed on each client’s business issues. An Internet ad salesperson whose site specializes in a given business segment or industry group can be a hugely valuable source of information and support to that account person.

Or, if the account team works with a client across all media, it may be difficult for the account people to stay as current as they might like on the Internet arena. As the Internet expert, you can be a valuable resource in that regard.

Most agency account people we’ve met are grateful for ad reps who are willing to keep them informed, help them look smart and connected to the client, support them on understanding the subtleties of a given market segment. What they are not interested in is any sort of sales pitch about why your site is better than some other, and ad reps who make that mistake are the main reason account people don’t want to hear from us.

So why is it worth your time to help the account person with his job if you can’t pitch your site? Because account people can be a great source of information about client goals and objectives, and they can help you understand what the client is seeking to achieve and why. When she understands your market segment better, an account supervisor can play a major role in having a particular target added to the plan then you just have to sell media on why your site reaches that target best.

We are not suggesting at all that ad agency account people want to hear ad sales pitches; they don’t. If you can refrain from pitching, you can establish account side relationships that make a significant difference to your understanding of, and partnership with, your client and their agency.

Next week, other influences on the buying process.

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