Profiling the New Seller: Continued

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Picking up on the theme from the March 13th edition of The Drift, I continue here in “Profiling the New Seller;” that is, describing the very new skill sets and orientations of tomorrow’s digital and integrated media seller.  When you combine the complexity of today’s digital toolkit (display, search, mobile and all points in between) with a fragmenting media landscape, a fundamental role realignment in client/agency relationships and the intermediation of technology in the buy/sell process (see “The Oreo Doctrine” ), the old media sales models and practices fall apart.  We simply need to look beyond “years in the business” and seek out new archetypes for the media sales pros of the next ten years.  In March, I described three of those archetypes:  the Producer, the Asset Packager and the Human Router.  Here are three more:

The Non-Linear Seller:  Three traits distinguish the Non-Linear:  (1) he’s able to thrive in dealing with multiple decision points in hierarchical buying environments; (2) he’s not afraid of long sales cycles and (3) within those sales cycles he’s able to secure meaningful interim commitments – he does the interim close very well.  As a media sales organization, you’ll pay your bills with ongoing transactional business, but you’ll make your margins and profits on big, renewable franchises that often take weeks or months to sell through.  We can learn a lot here from enterprise software sellers, especially those who may have done governmental work.  Consider also those who have sold non-traditional advertising and promotional vehicles.  Who sold marketers on the idea of sponsoring concerts or wrapping their logos around vehicles that patrol the streets of Manhattan or the freeways of LA?  Now there’s someone who can go and find the check writing authority in a complex organization.

The Navigator of Complexity:  A slight riff on the description above, think of the Non-Linear Seller as Mr. Outside while the Navigator is Mr. Inside.  The Navigator is the one who can help your team secure resources and get things done within your own fast-paced, non-linear and slightly dysfunctional company.  The Navigator is (1) great at prioritization – a compulsive list-maker; (2) decisive; (3) stays focused on a strong point-of-view and (4) politically savvy.  Consider people who have backgrounds in organizational structure, project managers and those who may have served in operational management at smaller organizations.  Whether or not you give the Navigator a sales title, you need one in your organization.

The Re-Animator:  Richard Nixon once famously quipped that while Mario Cuomo and Jesse Jackson were poets, 1988 presidential hopeful Michael Dukakis was “a word processor.”  Today we have far too many people in sales who are also “word processors,” unable to bring to life the relationship between your company and its public.  We’ll never transcend the spreadsheet until we pick up the paintbrush.  Every brand manager fears irrelevance and apathy most of all, and they look to media companies and websites for “passion transfusions.”  Trouble is, we don’t have enough people who can communicate the passion and commitment inherent in our relationships or in the site experience itself.  Look in the ranks of user experience professionals, creatives and those well versed in social media and online gaming environments.  They can begin to answer the question, “Why are they here?”

Look first within your own larger organization, but commit to bringing a balance of these six archetypes to your future sales team.  No one seller will contain all of these traits, but every great media sales organization of the future must.
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