Sellers are among the most important people in digital media today. Behind every new media success story, whether the Huffington Post, Gawker, Vice, or Buzzfeed, you find a great salesperson.
In my first job in digital media, I supported sellers. I was in charge of product marketing at a Silicon Valley advertising startup, and we needed revenue. My time quickly became 100% dedicated to helping our salespeople win business. And just as quickly, I learned that selling digital media is an exceptional challenge.
Sales is not for wimps. There are few true “must buys” online today. For a digital media buyer, every direct deal is a gamble. They bet on a site’s cultural pull with an audience, and that the folks behind the site will provide great service. A seller communicates this reality. A large part of what a seller does, then, is tell a story – they tell of the world as they see it and create the future they believe in. And they get people to follow along. This is how great sellers can be industry leaders.
For me, telling great stories has always felt very important, and I’ve been lucky to meet and work alongside some great sellers. So for what it’s worth, here are a few things I’ve picked up about what all great digital media sellers do:
1) They take smart risks
In our world, it is important to stand out from the crowd. Being great means being different. The top person at the top ad network today may be very good (and very rich), but I doubt many would call that person great, or innovative or even an industry leader. One thing that makes this business so exciting is how many unsolved problems there are – problems that won’t be solved by doing the same old thing. Taking on big challenges in new ways can be a big risk – but if you want to be great, doing the same old thing is much riskier.
2) They understand pace
The digital landscape is littered with ideas that failed because they were too early or too late. In a B2B technology / service business like digital advertising, there will always be a gap between the futuristic ideas we want to pursue and the workable solutions clients are set up to buy today. The best salespeople are uniquely positioned to connect the dots between what can be built and what can be bought, and they can lead their clients into the future.
3) They are patient
“For anything worth having one must pay the price; and the price is always work, patience, love, and self-sacrifice.” As above, sales people are always leading their clients to a better future, more often than not, haltingly and painfully. The best sellers have 1-, 3-, and 5-year plans. They play chess – with an outcome they believe in, a strategy to get there and the patience to stick with it.
4) They care about detail a lot
The saying “image is everything” has a lot of truth, if we rephrase it – “at first, image is everything.” Craftsmanship matters. The care we put in to how we present ourselves is a strong signal for the care we will put into what we are selling. It’s the difference between a luxury handbag and a knock-off – in the details, we see whether something will fall apart or last forever.
5) They care about people even more
Every great salesperson understands the core lesson of Dale Carnegie’s “How To Win Friends And Influence People.” Put simply: care about other people more than yourself and work to make them happy. This is a maxim for a life well-lived, but it is doubly important when selling. In sales, it is too easy to think entirely of what you want and work to convince people to your side. The best sales people, though, find out first what others want, and figure out a way to give it to them. Caring about people this way is the basis of any productive relationship, short- and long-term.
6) They have fun
Selling media matters. It powers the production of large parts of our culture. But it’s also not brain surgery. Experimentation is good. Mistakes are OK. Hanging out with creative, energetic people all day is supposed to be fun. The best salespeople keep sight of that. And if they ever forget, there is always a happy hour just around the corner.
Thought Catalog is hiring great digital media sellers in NYC. firstname.lastname@example.org