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Sales Cycle Takes Time, Delivers Relationships

Stored in Online Advertising and tagged

TV and newspaper account executives who make the switch over to online on a full-time basis or try to sell it to their traditional accounts often face a difficult adjustment to the time it takes to land a client contract.

Selling online advertising has a longer sales cycle on average than traditional media because many accounts are either new to it or have little experience with it.

A retailer who has been placing campaigns in newspapers or on broadcast for many years will have a solid grounding on what to expect. Those mediums are in their comfort zones.

But even today, many years after the Mosaic Web browser came into being, accounts might spend only 5 to 10 percent of their budgets online, or have had a few bad experiences with it, or had unrealistic expectations that online is simply about clickthroughs.

In fact, that 5 to 10 percent might represent only one or two campaigns during the course of an annual budget, which limits their experience and knowledge base even more. They simply have more questions and objections, and they still have a lot to learn about the environment.

Likewise, online account executives have a lot to learn about the environment as well. Many of us have learned that new hires who have not sold online before need as much as six months to learn everything they need to know about the product, the sales cycle, the questions and the objections.

Media properties are well-advised to provide guaranteed sales commission for at least three to six months if the account executive is building a new territory or taking over one that is weak or relatively new. AEs often become truly effective at least 12 to 18 months into the position.

Client education is time-consuming and at times frustrating. We have known clients who took up to three years finally to make the commitment. But client education ultimately is a long-term investment that delivers long-term relationships.

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