Modern Advertising is Complex, So Salespeople Need to Be Master Orchestrators

The magazine industry is only becoming more complex, and with it media sales. Food & Wine Publisher Christina Grdovic says that her brand crosses a number platforms, from websites to live events, and is using that reach to build “360-degree” programs to help advertisers connect with readers wherever they are. These massive advertising packages have multiple elements, meaning media salespeople must have a strong grasp of both Food & Wine and the advertiser’s businesses.

In addition to larger, more comprehensive solutions, there are more players involved in the sales process. Grdovic explains that separate agencies for social, digital, and public relations may weigh in on different aspects of the sale in addition to the advertiser. Media salespeople need to know how to manage all of these players, listen to their needs, and help them reach their goals.

Although this may sound overwhelming, Grdovic maintains that putting in place a detailed plan will help media salespeople reach their goals. In the following interview, Grdovic explains how the best salespeople are navigating an increasingly complex and challenging media landscape.

As the media industry has shifted to new platforms and technologies, how has the sales process changed?

The process is longer and more complex because advertising and marketing campaigns have more components than ever: they are multiplatform and include digital, video, print, social, events, and beyond. Given the 360-degree nature of today’s programs, there are now more decision makers and more decisions involved — you have many more elements to an idea or a campaign, more agencies and more people in the mix.

Great salespeople get to know everyone on an account. We used to call on a media agency and a client. Now we also have a digital agency, possibly a social agency, a PR agency, an event activation agency and others.

What skills do media salespeople need to be successful today?

They need more skills than ever before. They need to be articulate about our brand, our products, our capabilities, our extensive marketing programs, our network of culinary festivals, as well as our company as a whole. At Time Inc. we have a wealth of resources and opportunities for cross-brand collaborations. Salespeople also need to have expertise in more aspects of the business. There is zero tolerance for people who don’t have a deep understanding of everything we have to offer across print, digital, mobile, data, tech, and targeting.

How does your sales team incorporate data into the sales process?

The key to selling is a blend of art and science. Crafting great ideas that are rooted in data and insights is critical. We always use research to understand who our readers are and then use that information strategically for clients.

How does your sales team approach consultative selling?

This has not changed in that they still need to do all the necessary research on a client or potential client — although this is easier than ever given all the access to information. Then they need to spend time with all the key players and listen. As I mentioned earlier, there are more people to interact with than before, but the most effective way to sell is to completely understand a client’s business holistically and work with them to reach their goals.

What’s the biggest challenge salespeople face when closing a deal?

The biggest challenge is that all media is your competition and there is more media and more competition than before. Clients have a myriad of options, and we need to prove that we are an essential partner.

What advice do you have for media salespeople to improve their sales and their careers?

My best advice is to have a plan with clear goals. Daily plans, weekly plans, and long term plans. Without a plan, time and work get lost and everyone stays busy but doesn’t necessarily reach their goals. Plans keep you accountable, and I like a good old-fashioned to-do list. There’s a phrase I like to use that I learned from superstar seller Lisa McCarthy and it works all the time: Plan the work, work the plan.

Ellen Harvey is a freelance writer and editor who covers the latest technologies and strategies reshaping the publishing landscape. She previously served as the Senior Editor at Publishing Executive and Book Business.