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Advertising sales agents, also called advertising sales representatives, sell advertising space to businesses and individuals. They contact potential clients, make sales presentations, and maintain client accounts.Duties
Advertising sales agents typically do the following:
Advertising sales agents work outside the office occasionally, meeting with clients and prospective clients at their places of business. Some may make telephone sales calls as well—calling prospects, attempting to sell the media firm’s advertising space or time, and arranging followup appointments with interested prospects.
A critical part of building relationships with clients is learning about their needs. Before the first meeting with a client, a sales agent gathers background information on the client’s products, current clients, prospective clients, and the geographic area of the target market.
The sales agent then meets with the client to explain how specific types of advertising will help promote the client’s products or services most effectively. If a client wishes to proceed, the advertising sales agent prepares and presents an advertising proposal to the client. The proposal may include an overview of the advertising medium to be used, sample advertisements, and cost estimates for the project.
Because of consolidation among media industries, agents are increasingly selling several types of ads in one package. For example, agents may sell ads that would be found in print editions, as well as online editions, of a particular publication, such as a newspaper.
In addition to maintaining sales and overseeing their accounts, advertising sales agents analyze sales statistics and prepare reports about clients’ accounts. They keep up to date on industry trends by reading about both current and new products, and they monitor the sales, prices, and products of their competitors.
In many firms, the advertising sales agent drafts contracts, which specify the cost and the advertising work to be done. Agents also may continue to help the client, answering questions or addressing problems the client may have with the proposal.
In addition, sales agents may be responsible for developing sales tools, promotional plans, and media kits, all of which they use to help make a sale. In other cases, firms may have a marketing team that sales agents work with to develop these sales tools.
Although a high school diploma is typically enough education for an entry-level advertising sales position, some employers prefer applicants with a bachelor’s degree. Proven sales success and communication skills are essential. Most training for advertising sales agents takes place on the job.Education
Although a high school diploma is typically the minimum education requirement for an entry-level advertising sales position, some employers prefer applicants with a college degree. Publishing companies with large circulations and broadcasting stations with a large audience may prefer workers with at least a college degree. Courses in marketing, communications, business, and advertising are helpful. For those who have a proven record of successfully selling other products, educational requirements are not likely to be strict.Training
Most training takes place on the job and can be either formal or informal. In the majority of cases, an experienced sales manager instructs a newly hired advertising sales agent who lacks sales experience. In this one-on-one environment, supervisors typically coach new hires and observe them as they make sales calls and contact clients. Supervisors then advise the new hires on ways to improve their interaction with clients. Employers may bring in consultants to lead formal training sessions when agents sell to a specialized market segment, such as automotive dealers or real estate professionals.Advancement
Agents with proven leadership ability and a strong sales record may advance to supervisory and managerial positions, such as sales manager, account executive, and vice president of sales. Successful advertising sales agents may also advance to positions in other industries, such as corporate sales.Important Qualities
Communication skills. Advertising sales agents must be persuasive during sales calls. In addition, they should listen to the client’s desires and concerns, and recommend an appropriate advertising package.
Initiative. Advertising sales agents must actively seek new clients, keep in touch with current clients, and expand their client base, in order to meet sales quotas.
Organizational skills. Agents work with many clients, each of whom may be at a different stage in the sales process. Agents must be well organized to keep track of their clients and potential clients.
Self-confidence. Advertising sales agents should be confident when calling potential clients (making cold calls). Because potential clients are often unwilling to commit on a first call, agents frequently must continue making sales calls, even if rejected at first.
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