I lost a sales media training program last week. The publisher hiring the sales trainer insisted his print centric staff was failing at online sales because they did not know the new media semantics. He told me, "They know the brand and how to sell, they just need to know the new buzz words."

I didn’t agree. Assuming his sales staff had graduated high school, learning a few new word defintions should not hold anyone back.

When moving from selling print to integrated or interactive selling, the deeper issue is understanding the shift going on in marketing itself and how it impacts your advertisers. After you understand this shift the "buzz words" take care of themselves.

Media sellers are not the only ones discussing this shift. Yesterday, Kevin Downey, a writer at Media Life articulated it for media buyers in way that sellers should hear as well:

"How people use media is changing dramatically, and the era of force-fed commercials is nearing an end.

What’s taking its place–and has been for several years at least–is a dialog between advertiser and consumer, and more and more the consumer is in charge.

Media buying agencies need to become part of that dialog. They need to learn how to spark that exchange. Those that fail to do so will face extinction. Or that’s the clear warning in a new study from Forrester."

Kim then shares from the Forrester study he based much of his column on:

“Today’s agencies fail to help marketers engage with consumers, who, as a result, are becoming less brand loyal,” writes Peter Kim, a senior analyst at Forrester and author of the report.

“To turn the tide, marketers will move to the connected agency, one that shifts from making messages to nurturing consumer connections.”

The forces killing off the old system are twofold, and one is the explosion of media options that make no one medium a must-have experience. It’s the end of mass media in which advertisers could push out their message and consumers were forced to accept that message as the price of admission.

Nobody’s a captive audience anymore, argues Kim. Expensive ad campaigns across mass media no longer work in this new media landscape."

On your next call: You need to stop thinking about how the media you are selling will "expose a message to a target audience" and start thinking about how the media you are selling will elicit a reaction, interaction, or ongoing relationship with a group of individuals. Stop thinking exposure and start thinking interaction. Now remind the members of your staff who can’t sell the online piece that with it there is no feedback loop or interaction. Oops.

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