On Sunday night I had the honor of speaking on opening night of the IAB Annual Leadership Meeting in Scottsdale about the future of digital media sales. After addressing 'the big lie' that hangs over our business - that the growth of programmatic buying would somehow drastically reduce or eliminate the need for sales executives - I talked about how the nature of selling would indeed change, and what kind of sellers would be called for in the complex and rewarding days ahead.
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Transactional buying and selling - trading standard ad units for dollars - is the rust belt of the media landscape, and those jobs ain't coming back. In fact, those jobs really aren't about selling at all. The real sellers - the great ones - are already working on a much different level, we have the working template for the Greatest Generation of Digital Sellers:
- They are marketing-oriented, not advertising driven. They look at the picture through a much wider aperture.
- They organize their work around multi-product, integrated solutions - not around response to late stage, single product RFPs.
- They operate "left of budget" and create urgency by working backward from the unsolved marketing problem.
- They are patient and thorough in navigating complexity.
- They are enterprise sellers, not point solution vendors.
Spend ten minutes watching the embedded video of my talk and share your own thoughts. If you're an individual contributor, how do you measure up the five qualities above? If you lead a team, how many of your current sellers fit this rubric? More importantly, what are you doing to support and retain them?
The Greatest Generation of Digital Sellers is not a foregone conclusion. It's something we have to imagine and commit to. To paraphrase William Gibson, bits of that future are already here; they're just unevenly distributed.
We've just added Mitch Weinstein from IPG Mediabrands as part of an important discussion of viewability at Seller Forum on March 12th. We'll be discussing video, talent, policies, financial outlook and more. If you lead a team that sells media, you need to be there. Request your invitation today.
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