Digiday recently interviewed several sales leaders and media executives on a pretty interesting topic: the shape of The Future Publisher's Sales Force. Among the many observations are that nobody will be selling banners in 3 years, that digital sales leaders will find the balance between programmatic and direct selling, and that true media sellers will start to look more like McKinsey consultants (OK, that one was mine.) The whole thing got me thinking about what the 21st century media seller will and won't do - and how the really good ones are already behaving.
The Digital Anthropologist: The old model of content as an anchor for "your ad here" is quickly falling away. Even in content rich environments, we'll be focusing on the actual behavior of the consumer - how they're interacting, what they're forwarding, how they're communicating with others. MS 3.0 will be good at finding marketing opportunities (not just ad placements) within real customer behavior.
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The Guerilla Fighter: The first 20 years of digital selling was like watching World War II generals fight the Vietnam War. We organized around the big fixed battles of RFPs and presentations and planning cycles, embracing the same nostalgic tactics. We wish that everybody still wore uniforms, the battle lines were set, and it was all about taking the next hill. But today - and going forward -- we need sellers who can navigate uncertainty and thrive in asymmetrical sales environments. It's never going to be simple again.
The Clarifying Agent: Media Seller 3.0 will eschew the data-driven approach to sales, ditching the PowerPoint and the complex schematics outlining the technology and capabilities. Instead, at every turn, she will clarify, simplify and distill information based on communication and economic value to the marketer. If you think your team members are largely doing this now, take another look. This skill is still exceedingly rare.
The Challenger: The days of asking great questions and discovering existing client needs are over. Technology and new business models have gotten us to a place where the customer doesn't even know what's possible, so Media Seller 3.0 will move the customer out of his comfort zone and into a space where truly new possibilities and ideas can be explored.
As William Gibson famously wrote, "The future is already here. It's just unevenly distributed." The great media sellers of tomorrow are already embracing these "new skills" today.
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