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 account manager or media sales executive at media companies 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 so very few understand what is involved 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 media agencies 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. Those that succeed usually have a passion for media and for learning new things.

It is a young, fun environment to work  in 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 employers look for?

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.

According to Esther Semple from leading recruitment consultancy Major Players  “Clients want people with interesting personalities, people buy from people they like,  so you need to be able to engage people.  You also need to have a thick skin and not be scared off when someone says ‘no’ to you”

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

Whilst lots of people feel that you need to ‘have the gift of the gab’ 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 with less well-known companies that offer excellent media sales training and give you the skills you need to progress.  Who knows where that will lead you?

Large companies often recruit graduates directly so take a look on their websites for vacancies or there are specialist graduate recruitment agencies such as  who have a wide range of media sales roles.

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

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