Photo: CarbonNYC via Flickr
Every day digital ad sales folks are asked to call on agencies and marketers in an effort to evangelize, educate, promote and ultimately sell media. On the outside, the sales process seems pretty straightforward – learn your product, be passionate about it and get on the phone or meet in person to close the deal. Simple, right? Not so much.For the digital seller, there are many new factors and obstacles to consider when presenting and selling to clients. The biggest of which is the lack of a standard, agreed-upon currency which the buyer and seller both use to determine the value of media. Every other medium (TV, Radio, Print, Outdoor) has adopted a neutral third-party evaluation and definition of audience and ratings that both buyer and seller rely on. This ultimately results in a simplified value exchange.
I was reminded of this enormous challenge when meeting with a partner the other day. This partner operates a large out-of-home digital video network and we were discussing the sales challenges of not fitting in to a traditional media planners’ “box”. They said, “We’re not TV, not Billboard, not Digital, but we sell on GRPs, operate outdoor screens and offer dynamic targeting just like digital.” For them and many others, this “no-man’s land” is a very scary place to be. Most media planners and buyers are young and under tremendous pressure, so if you don’t fit into one of the boxes in their spreadsheet you likely don’t get bought.
Now before you scream and say “this is where the salesperson comes in and educates the client, sells it up the chain to the big boss at the agency and walks out with the big check,” let’s take a reality check. That is more the fantasy than the reality. While it is true that being in the white space allows you to define a new category, change the conversation, focus on new and possibly better metrics, and deliver an exciting product to market, it usually takes an extraordinary amount of time to do so. And time is a luxury that many early stage companies don’t have.
So, how do you break through? In the example noted above, specializing the sales team and focusing on buyers by category (TV, Outdoor, Digital) are two options. They could also refine their offering and metrics in order to fit better into the boxes media planners are accustomed to. This would help drive revenues quickly, but would not scale long-term. The better solution requires a larger effort by Sales, Business Development and company executives to focus on changing the conversation and identifying ways to partner with agencies and technology companies to rise above the fray and become a leader. While it would make the digital space far simpler if we had a standard currency measurement, for now we will have to settle on trying to make a “square peg” fit in the Out-of-Home, TV, etc “round hole”.
What other recommendations do you have to cut through, fit in and collect that big check?
The views expressed here reflect the views of the author alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of 24/7 Media, its affiliates, subsidiaries or its parent company, WPP plc.
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