At this time of year thousands of graduates in the UK will begin to give serious thought to getting a job and hopefully the start of a promising career.  When searching on job boards and meeting with recruitment agencies the role of ‘media sales executive’ is often one that crops up.  The first question most graduates have is…

What is media sales?

It’s not surprising that it is not well known, as it is not a career promoted at universities or in schools. For this reason very few people understand what media sales involves nor how great a career it can be if you want to progress rapidly. Certainly when I got my first job in media sales I had no idea what it would entail and I know that most of my colleagues were in the same situation.

So what does it involve?

In essence  it is a sales role that enables clients to reach their desired target audience through a range of media; TV, digital, cinema, newspapers, magazines,  out of home, and events.  It may involve selling advertising space, data, events or securing sponsorship.  The range of companies you can work for is very broad from some of the country’s best known media brands;  Vogue, The Times, Channel 4, Google, Ebay, Capital Radio, Spotify, to less well-know but large business to business companies such as Reed, Incisive Media, and UBM.

It is a fast paced challenging role, usually based within a team that requires everyone to achieve set targets. Some roles are based solely on the telephone, particularly for the first year, others involve meeting clients  and building long term relationships with them.  Increasingly it also requires a high level of creativity as advertisers requirements are for more innovation solutions to enable them to stand out from their competitors. It does help if you have an interest in the media and a passion for your area.

It is a young, fun environment to work and one where you can expect to socialise a lot with your colleagues, most of whom will be in their 20’s or early 30’s.

What do media companies look for in employees?

Media Sales is a highly competitive environment; the first requirement is for people who are ambitious and determined to succeed.  You need to be motivated by targets, and be tenacious in your approach to prospective clients. This will involve lots of hard work, whether in finding new business leads or making lots of calls and meetings.

As the role is client facing it is important that you enjoy dealing with people, as well as being confident building rapport with new and existing clients.  Presentations and writing business proposals are a key part of the role so strong communication skills are essential.

Coming up with new ideas for clients, brand extensions, sponsorship is also highly valued.

Bursting the myth, only good talkers should go into sales…

Whilst lots of people feel that you need be to a great ‘talker’ to work in sales that is not true.  You need to be a good communicator yes, but being able to discover and interpret a client’s needs is more important than being a good talker! So if you are naturally curious, enjoy listening to other peoples stories and have a desire to win, then you may be surprised that sales could be for you.

 What are the opportunities?

The media industry is a meritocracy where you can be promoted quickly if you are seen to have the right attitude and skills.  I had my first management role 2 years after graduating.  The possibilities are endless.  Whilst you may not initially be attracted to selling over the telephone, it does lead to other opportunities and the skills you learn will be useful throughout your career.  Similarly don’t wait for your first role to be with your favourite website, magazine or newspaper, great if that happens but if it doesn’t don’t ignore other opportunities, particularly with companies that offer media sales training and give you the skills you need to progress.  Who knows where that will lead you?

The UK has a thriving media scene, one of the biggest in the world.  The growth of digital advertising has ensured that media sales continues to offer exciting opportunities  for determined graduates who want to work in a fun, fast paced, challenging environment.

Its been a great career choice for me and for many of the graduates that I worked with early on.  So best of luck if you choose media sales!

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