I’ve been involved in the media for over 20 years and feel privileged to have worked with hundreds of brilliant, talented media sales people. They are people who care about their clients and agencies, are passionate about their brands and work incredibly hard to always deliver the best possible solutions for their clients and their business.
So why do so many media agencies so often view sales people in a poor light?
Unfortunately, when we’re under pressure to make sales we all run the risk of falling into certain habits that inevitably lead to a poor reputation. Watch out that you are aren’t guilty of the following:
1. Lack of preparation and planning
The number one gripe is that sales people often call or meet with agencies having made no effort to tailor their approach to the individual or the clients that they manage. They haven’t researched the clients the agency looks after, and yet they expect the agency to update them on everything. Their proposals are often a thinly disguised copy and paste job from previous pitches and show a distinct lack of care.
Well run sales teams think strategically. They are familiar with clients’ planning cycles, they target clients who are ideal for their audiences, phone calls and meetings take place for a specific reason and every pitch is carefully tailored.
2. Not listening
Selling is about understanding. It’s about being curious. It’s about asking meaningful questions and then listening carefully to the answers and what lies behind those answers. Impatient sales people may notice a buying signal and, rather than waiting to explore it in more detail and get a real understanding of the client’s position, they jump in. They fail to recognise that a buying signal won’t go away in just a few minutes!
Always remember the motto coined by Stephen Covey in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People – ‘seek first to understand’.
3. Meetings for meetings’ sake
We all know that face time with clients and agencies means it is much more likely that we remain front-of-mind, get briefs and don’t miss out on business. So weekly meetings targets are commonplace. However, agencies are time-pressured and catch up meetings are likely to become an annoyance and therefore counter-productive.
If you want your sales teams to have lots of meetings you need to give them something useful and relevant to discuss with agencies. New insight, thought leadership pieces, exciting new products will help build your reputation as a ‘go-to’ resource and help your sales people have more meaningful conversations and meetings.
4. Not delivering what has been agreed
As a sales person your personal reputation is all important. Nothing annoys agencies more than failure to deliver on what you promise. Some sales people will do anything to get a deal over the line – they’ll worry about the consequences later. But do this at your peril!
Remember, agencies are answerable to clients when things go wrong. Don’t make life difficult for them, because it may just come back and bite you on the proverbial. Yes, mistakes do happen from time to time – if they happen on your watch, inform the client or agency as soon as possible and have a solution ready to solve the problem. Deal with it swiftly and professionally and agencies will recognise and appreciate your efforts. Successful damage limitation will ensure they will be happy to trust you again.
Agencies aren’t perfect and there are many things they could do better in terms of how they manage their relationships with media owners. I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences – there are bound to be some useful lessons to learn!