The innovation era for media consumption is here…Are your sales reps ready? Advertising customers are demanding greater ROI than ever before. Publishers look to capture a greater share of advertising spend. Advertising sales leaders are caught in the middle of this rapidly changing market – how can they lead their sales organizations to become more customer-centric? A 2012 survey conducted by the Alexander Group of ~650 media advertising customers explored the issues that are confounding today’s traditional media sales force and understand what customers are really looking for from their digital advertising sales person.
It’s all about the buyer. One of the key survey findings is rather obvious – digital ad sales buyers want a sales person who focuses on their needs. When asked to rank the six most important sales rep attributes, the number one rated attribute was the sales rep’s ability to understand the client’s business needs. Coming in at a distant second was the sales rep’s ability to provide new and innovative ideas to help the customer achieve their business goals. All four of the top desired sales rep attributes related directly to helping the customer solve business needs (see chart below).
Not just options – tailored solutions. While “understanding the customer’s needs” is obviously not a new insight, what’s interesting is the emphasis on this and the de-emphasis on reps simply providing ideas, options and support. According to the survey, the lowest valued attributes relate to reps providing support and information on new solutions. Change is needed. These findings fly in the face of current practices, where sales reps typically approach the customer with several separate product pitches. For years, success in advertising has been product-centric and many sales compensation programs still reward sellers on a product by product basis. What the customer really wants is a partner that understands their needs and can help grow their business. This is the true value of a sales rep in the eyes of the customer and the key attribute that the sales rep must demonstrate to be successful. Whether a customer wants a single product or a complex solution, sales leaders must ensure that reps are approaching their accounts with the customer in mind. Employing customer-centric sales tactics and creating a supporting sales compensation program that aligns with the customers’ needs first will strengthen relationships, increase satisfaction and improve results for your customer. Is your sales force ready?