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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Media Sellers - Extinction Level Event

An extinction event [also known as: mass extinction, extinction-level event, or biotic crisis] is a widespread and rapid decrease in the amount of life on earth. Wikipedia

The post title might be a touch dramatic and I'm certainly not talking about any loss of life - however the term Extinction Level Event to me best describes what's on the horizon. This blog post was written in my mind months ago but as soon as I read the article, titled "2013 Will Bring A Talent Correction in Digital Media Sales" by Adam Chandler, I knew I had to finally write this post.

Adam is dead on when he says there is a major talent correction coming to the digital media space. They day of the order taker is near its end. And having been on the client side now for nearly a year I can honestly say that the overall quality of media sellers out there is abysmal at best. Are all media sales professionals bad? No not at all but as someone who was on the receiving end of 100's of emails, many many phone calls and even as a client, I was truly shocked at the overall quality of sales people in the digital media space today. Here's one of my favorite stories:

Me: Listen [Media Salesperson], I'm not hitting my CPA goals with my media buys. I cannot afford to not hit them, so at the moment I can't buy anything from you unless your pricing changes the overall economics.

Seller: OK, what is your CPA target?

Me: We need to be at $1 to make this work.

Seller: OK, well if CPM pricing isn't working then maybe we can do a small CPC test. What if I could get you a $1 CPC?

And that folks is a VERY true story. And as I speak this person is a VP of Sales at a rather well known Media Co....And the very sad truth is there are so many more stories just like that one.

In one of my latest gig's @ Zeta Interactive I got to witness not only the birth of a brand new digital agency but the process in which we all went from single solution sellers (whatever our background was email, search etc..) to integrated sales professionals. Selling both marketing services and marketing technology. It took us all about 3 years to really hit our stride. The learning curve was steep but the more time you spent with SME's from various disciplines the better you got at understanding each one. And the better you understood each channel the better you understood how to create compelling innovative solutions for clients. Because at the end of the day clients want solutions that drive ROI/Revenue/Results - they care far less about how you get there. 

So why the mention of Zeta Interactive and my history there. Because right now, there are a ton of talented sales professionals on the marketing services/agency side that understand the entire digital ecosystem and can bring a ton of value to both the companies they sell for as well as the companies they sell to. The dramatic rise of programmatic buying will allow media companies to shed a large portion of their existing sales forces, as a large % of their inventory will be purchased via algorithmic trading. And my prediction is, as media firms look for sales people to lead large integrated sales, they will look outside of the media world and look for salespeople who have experience with complex digital sales and a firm command of the entire digital ecosystem.

The war for talent only gets worse...