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Agency Leadership

What Moses taught you about selling media in the modern age

By June 4, 2013 2 Comments

Warning. This article may make you feel uncomfortable.
Marcus Cauchi, Sandler London’s sales management trainer tells it how it is

When Moses came down from Mount Sinai he dropped the third and fourth tablet because he only had little hands.

As it happens, a couple of local Ad Men working on the Pharaonic Times account found the pieces, put them back together and today this forms the rules of account management in media:

11. Thou shalt be a professional visitor and jump at the beck and call of anyone who tells thee they wish you to pitch
12. Thou shalt do free consulting on a regular basis
13. Thou shalt discount to the tune of 10-60{3e234da05fbbdc43a47fef4bb820620bdc41c4d21ad7649eedb08be0e65da68e}
14. Thou shalt overservice to the tune of 30-40{3e234da05fbbdc43a47fef4bb820620bdc41c4d21ad7649eedb08be0e65da68e}
15. Thou shalt never say “no” even to unreasonable demands
16. Thou shalt work evenings and weekends for scant recognition and grief
17. Thou shalt put thy customer on a pedestal and treat him as if he is king
18. Thou shalt give all your power to the prospect because he holds the beer tokens
19. Thou shalt never draw a boundary across the unreasonableness of client behaviour and allow them to ride roughshod o’er thou and thy people
20. Thou shalt confuse activity with effectiveness

This approach, while traditional is plain stupid.

Clients aren’t your friends and if you think that it’s your job to make them your friends you probably have skinny kids and you aren’t at all secure in your role.

I worked with one network agency and they had a chap, let’s call him Chad, and it was his job to go out and tout their agency to anyone who’d give them a chance to pitch (do free consulting, divert scarce and expensive resources into futile pitches they could and would never win, but he got paid on getting them into the most number of pitches).

This meant the regional MDs were always run ragged, their teams were pulled in all directions chasing business they’d have been better investing the money and effort in the actual lottery. “You have to be in it to win it!” Pah! Pish! Tosh! And piffle!

When did the Almighty decree you had to be an ass to be in media business development?

And where does it say in the 20 commandments that you had to honour stupid management that had it’s head firmly where the sun doesn’t shine? (If you recognise yourself in this piece I’m guessing that I am writing about you!).

Account managers fail because they give control of the sale to the buyer because they suffer from several dangerous traditional beliefs:

* The man with the gold makes the rules

* The customer is king

* The buyer is always right

* If a prospect asks a question you must answer


Traditional logic is beguiling.

Of course everyone wants to save money … surely?

Of course everyone wants to get the best deal … don’t they?

Many believe prospects are logical and buy for logical reasons, don’t they?

Most account managers never question why they do pitches, discount, or over-service their clients; many fear that if they upset the “client” they might not buy from you or they’ll fire you if you don’t jump to their command?

And doesn’t almost everyone in the industry do free consulting, give away ideas, tell the buyer all about their people, put their pricing and ideas in writing, write proposals and then scratch their heads wondering when the SUSPECT might deign to get back with an acknowledgement, a response or heaven forbid, an actual decision to say yes or no but nothing in between?

I have probably been paid a pound for every time someone in media said to me, “But that’s what you have to do.” “You have to do pitches.” “It’s all about the creative”, and in the same breath bleating how “it’s all about the money.”

STUPID STUPID STUPID! Why? Why does it have to be that way?

You can’t have it both ways.

Either you are the expert, with experience, creativity and innovation in your armoury and they need help to solve a problem they can’t fix on their own but you can help them fix, or you are a commodity provider in a crowded, price sensitive market who will sell your soul for the job just to keep your wheels turning and your lights on.

Which one are you?

Let me point out another home truth you’re going to hate: You are a salesperson.

You don’t call yourself one or even think you are one. Probably because your mum told you that salespeople can’t be trusted and to keep your hand in your pocket when around them.

That’s a major part of your role and no denying it or hiding behind titles like business development, marketing or account management can hide you form the cold, ugly truth, YOU ARE ONE.

You are selling when you are an account manager, relationship manager, client services, account executive, account director, creative director, designer, head of digital or whatever title you use to pretend you aren’t a salesperson but if your job is to go to meet prospects and bring home money to take money to the bank, you sell for a living.

If I’m invited back to write for you again (after this article I don’t think Jenny will have me back!), I will explore why your not understanding Your Rights is hurting you and costing you money, personally and for the firm.

We’ll explore the effect of a Weak Self-Concept, Weak Money Concept, Confusing Cost and Value, Confusing Being Busy With Being Effective on your performance.

So the final nail in my blogging coffin is about to come your way.

You have No Bill of Rights. Let’s start with the fact you have no idea what your rights are in the sales relationship.

Have you ever asked yourself what rights you have as the account manager of your key accounts? Probably, the question made you uncomfortable or confused you, didn’t it? Rights? Rights? I don’t have any!

If that was your reaction, I suggest you take a few minutes to grow a spine and decide what rights you are giving away because you fear for your job, you fear of not looking worth the money, your fear of looking stupid, your fear of upsetting someone who could potentially pay you money and you fear failing.

Next time we’ll tackle these issues in a similarly warm and subtle way. Be prepared ……

Marcus Cauchi is a Sales Management Trainer for Sandler Training and someone who has influenced me greatly in my career.
If you’re sick of sales training and sales training that doesn’t work, then you can contact him at marcuscauchi@me.com or:



Author Jenny

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Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • I really enjoyed this article. It made me laugh as I agree with it. I’m so glad you didn’t hold back. I’ve been a business owner for 16 years & selling to large corporates for 18yrs. When I trained my sales teams I always taught them to start their calls with, “hello this is a sales call.” Sales, or more accurately ethical selling, is something to be proud of & sales people need to stop hiding behind another word. Those who answered calls from my company were refreshed by this honest approach. Qualification is vital too in the whole sales cycle – otherwise it’s a complete waste of time & money for the company.

    • Jenny says:

      Glad you enjoyed Marcus’s article Jane, it’s so true, if you’re not honest about what’s happening it can come across as inauthentic – and someone can feel it instantly. And yes qualifying prospects before spending lots of money trying to woo them into doing business with you is time very well spent – this is unfortunately not practiced enough in the ad agency world!

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