Why Ad-Sales is Different (And You Need a Specialized Ad-Sales Trainer)

Sales is sales, right? Not so fast my friend. Advertising sales is different from most other business-2-business sales for several reasons. Let’s review.

Doesn't make sense to compare an apple to an orange.

Selling advertising is materially different than selling in other businesses.

Advertising media and sponsorship purchase decisions are public decisions. The public sees what a company decides and will have a point of view; approval or displeasure – with the choices. Because of this the opinions and approvals of senior executives are key…even when they say the have delegated that decision. Just ask any company that has faced a boycott for where their ads or sponsorships appeared.

No other major spending category has the complicated number of service providers making decisions, or at least recommendations, to the company. Ad agencies, and media buying services, add a layer of complexity to ad- sales that confounds many sellers. Media planners and buyers often say they make the decisions. In fact they really “decide” what to recommend, and they want to recommend what they believe their superiors or clients like. Navigating this complexity is a key skill of media sales.

Finally, unlike many large-ticket b2b purchases like machine tools, or software or services, media buys are repeated. This means that losing a sale this quarter or this year is not so much a loss as it can be the foundation on which a win is built. If you have a bank advertising with you, that probably means that all the banks they compete with should be prospects. And they’ll be prospects next week, next quarter, and next year. Sales people need to invest time, and sales managers need to coach and support the long-term effort, that builds business.

The investment in building relationships takes time. Sometimes a sales person has to lose several times, but keep working, to eventually win business. If sales people don’t keep up the effort, a competitor will be the one that wins the new money, or the moved money.

The biggest challenge you have, when hiring an ad-sales trainer, is to be sure that they’ll ‘connect’ with your sales team. For a sales team to listen and try new approaches, they need to believe their ad-sales instructor understands their situation and sales problems. In the media business, only experienced media sellers will really understand the complications of media buyers who say they are ‘not planning now’ then run an ad with your competitor and of clients who say see the agency, but the agency keeps doing the same buys as in the past (because that is what they believe the client wants). Only an experienced ad-sales executive, turned trainer, can convince your team to try new approaches that work.

More useful ad-sales specific advice here:

Why Can’t Ad-Sales Execs Close Big Deals?

5 Ad-Sales Skills That Separate the Good From the Great

About Daniel M. Ambrose

Ambrose, launched ambro.com, corp. in 1994 to provide sophisticated strategy consulting and advertising sales training to advertising-driven media clients in the U.S. and abroad. Starting with the founding of About.com and iVillage in 1995, ambro.com has worked with hundreds of clients to help accelerate advertising revenue growth.