The Diablog™

Sell! Sell! Sell!

For well-established agencies (including advertising agencies, design firms, marketing firms, PR firms, etc.), interactive work is an add-on to the services that were offered when the agency was founded That part isn't rocket surgery - many agencies in business today started before the internet was even around. So why is it so hard to transition from print to interactive?

There could be a variety of reasons why you sell more print than interactive. I'm going to focus on one: sales.

Many agencies work around a love/hate relationship between creative and sales. You may call them Account Executives or New Business Developers or Relationship Managers, but for a couple minutes, let's be frank. They are sales. The guy that drives from one hardware store to the next trying to convince them that his bolts are stronger than his competitors' is a sales rep. Your people are doing the same thing. Selling bolts. It's sales.

Back to the creative/sales love/hate thing. The sales rep promises the client a presentation in two days, but the creative team thinks they need a year to prepare. The sales rep can't stop calling portals "port-holes", and the creatives can't stop laughing at them. The sales rep feels like the creatives are limiting their income potential, and the creatives think the sales rep is destroying their personal life. This stuff really happens, and it hurts everyone in the agency.

I don't have a Dr. Phil solution for all the baggage in this relationship, but I will point out that this baggage can get in the way of solving your interactive expansion plans.

Here's how. The driving force behind sales reps is making the sale. They sell what they know, because it's less risky and it lands business faster. You can try to change that, but you will fail. Commissions incent sales, not professional growth and development. That is how commission pay works. Sales reps are not paid to seek out new information about new product offerings. They are paid to sell and sell and sell. On the other side of the personnel rift, there is an interactive team that understands the internet, data-driven marketing tools, social networking - the gamut of interactive product offerings. But creatives beware; it's easy to think that you could sell better that the sales reps simply because you understand the product. The worst sales meetings I have ever witnessed were the result of creatives trying to be sales reps. Creatives commonly overlook an important point - sales reps know stuff, too. They know how to sell. They know how to gain a person's confidence, how to uncover their concerns, how to assuage those concerns, and how to encourage them to commit, sometimes in a matter of a few minutes. What commonly happens is: the sales reps know how to sell but don't know about interactive, and the interactive team understands the power of interactive communications but don't know how to sell. That's where the Dr. Phil baggage hurts the agency.

My solution places the responsibility on the interactive team. They should take what they know to the sales reps. Make them listen. Eat lunch with them. Carpool with them. Go with them to sales meetings if only to make use of the time in the car to and from the meeting. Find time in their schedule to help them understand and get on board with interactive. Don't be discouraged by resistance to change. Help them understand that interactive work is perfectly suited to building long-term relationships with clients through campaign management or even simple website management.

Here's a simple test to see if the interactive team needs to get involved in training the sales team. Is the interactive team busy? If the answer is, "Yes," then the sales team is doing a good job selling interactive. If the answer is, "No," then the interactive team has the time to train sales.

Narrowing the gap between sales and creatives helps everyone. Sales reps gain new income opportunities and the interactive team stays busy. And as we all know, busy is good.

One aspect of our Dialogs Professional Services offering is helping our agency partners through the interactive sales process. Let us show you how we can help you grow your interactive business.

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