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Are You Leading Your Digital Sales Effort?


The digital ad sales initiative is getting a lot of buzz these days, and its the lead story in the trades almost every day. Even you feel the pressure.

The fact that the headline above got your attention means you are working to use your digital capabilities to help advertisers get results. Those who lead the digital sales effort know its not easy, and digital sales revenues prove it.

But heres the good news. While frustration may be high right now, that light at the end of the tunnel is dazzling. Dont give up. Keep pressing forward in your effort to figure it out.

And to help you figure it out more quickly and achieve success, here are five things you can do to get your digital efforts moving in the right direction.

Clear out the clutter. It is not uncommon, when I ask sellers to share their digital capabilities with me, to hear a recitation of at least 30 to 40 assets they are currently pushing. While some may view this vast quantity as a selling point, it is clear to me that many sellers have no idea how to use or sell any of it. Its confusing and hard to remember, so you need to clear out the clutter and narrow sellers focus to a select few digital capabilities on which they can shine a bright spotlight. That will allow your sellers the opportunity to become experts in these assets, use these resources correctly, and begin to more effectively help their clients achieve results.

Learn to speak digital. Lets be honest: Digital is a whole new language, and often both sellers and buyers fail to communicate when using it. They dont teach Digital as a Second Language in school, and even those who do speak the language often do so with a terrible accent. If your sellers are going to effectively sell your digital capabilities, they need to learn what the words mean and why they are important for the advertiser. Once sellers know that, theyre better able to conduct a needs analysis and suggest more interactive solutions.

Make smoothies. Most likely, your media sellers are selling digital with a cherry on top approach. In other words, after they have built a solution that includes traditional capabilities and the sale is essentially done, they will suggest matching the schedule with streaming, or running a display ad on the homepage. This cherry on top can never measure up to an integrated solution, which is more like a smoothie. What makes a smoothie great is the perfect blend of the right ingredients. While any one ingredient is certainly good, the blend is the best solution.

Ask better questions. Its a simple input-output thing. Asking better questions about the clients digital expectations during the needs analysis leads to better ideas and the kinds of solutions that can actually help.

Here are a few simple questions account managers should ask:
How does the advertiser use their website? For lead generation? E-commerce? Does the advertiser buy search? Do they participate in deal sites? Do they have a social media strategy?

When sellers get comfortable with these questions, they can build from there.

Prove it. There is no doubt: Salespeople dont like to sell clients things that dont work. Any good seller knows the key to long-term success is client retention. When clients are getting results, they are likely to continue advertising. No results equals a screeching halt. You can provide your sellers with the buy-in they need by developing success stories featuring clients who have achieved results with an integrated solution. You might even set a goal to produce at least one success story per month.

Final thought: As Stan Lee said, With great power comes great responsibility. Using digital capabilities to help businesses get results is as customer-focused as it gets. Before the Internet, interacting with the consumers in the ways we do was unthinkable. We have a tremendous opportunity here, and a whole lot of power to connect consumers and business. With this great power comes great responsibility.

Matt Sunshine is EVP of the Center for Sales Strategy.