It’s time to treat media salespeople with respect 

What does bad buyer behavior look like?

The common denominator of bad buyer behavior is disrespect: not returning emails, arriving 18 minutes late to a 30-minute meeting, emailing salespeople at midnight demanding proposals the next day and playing with their phones as someone makes the pitch of their career in a meeting the salesperson worked three months to secure. 

Bad buyer behavior costs clients the essential leverage they seek from agencies: expertise and relationships to achieve media power they can’t generate in-house. Publishers can’t provide the essential “ins” where salespeople are disinclined to extend themselves with bespoke ideas, opportunities and measurement.

What does good buyer behavior look like?

Good buyer behavior benefits client, agency and publisher equally. It should be common sense, but that’s all too uncommon these days. So, agencies need to institute some fundamental practices that are currently missing, and they start with manners: 

Train managers and teams

At the start of every year, chief media officers should train their media teams on how to represent the agency and its clients in the marketplace. Teach people to show up within three minutes of start time, put their phones away and ask questions that demonstrate interest. 

Set a gift policy and enforce it

Ensure gifts are no greater than $100 in value. There is no reason a 24-year-old media buyer should be given the chance to go “apple picking,” where they are allowed to go into an Apple store and buy electronics and gear. Anything more than $100 and you have to wonder if something other than audience logic is guiding your media buying.

Apply the three-way alignment principle

An expensive ticket to a concert that you just take from Publisher A is very likely not appropriate. However, if you go to that concert with the salesperson and the client, that is a win for all. You have created a three-way value exchange.

Coach curiosity

Salespeople are ready with research, data, alphas, betas, unique relationships and hundreds of other assets. A polite ask can often unlock tons of added value for clients.  Ask a martech partner to better understand what underlies their bidding algorithm. Ask a news publisher how to avoid being adjacent to negative news. Ask a larger partner such as Google how other advertisers are solving drive-to-store tracking. Your problems aren’t unique; salespeople see them constantly, and they’ll tell you if you ask.

Require preparedness

To do their best, salespeople need some fundamental information that’s all too often missing. Require people to show up with a brief, a budget, specific media and business goals, anticipated friction points, particular needs or requests and things that are a “no go” for the client. When salespeople know these things, buying becomes a much more creative and productive conversation.

Marketer innovation depends on a triangle of mutual value for agency, client and media. Increasingly, gaining a media advantage means unlocking opportunities beyond the algorithm. That comes down to the discretionary efforts of salespeople, who represent one of the greatest assets at an agency’s command. Respect them with professionalism and honor their role by asking them to do what they do best, and they will dissolve obstacles to create big gains for clients. Agencies that do this will differentiate themselves this year.

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