Media sales: What is it and why should you consider a career in it?

Media sales: What is it and why should you consider a career in it?

Sales is a part of the media industry that many people overlook, probably because they just don’t know what it really involves, but it’s actually really great (in fact, we’ve got this Sales role at Haymarket available right now!).  Here’s the GoThinkBig guide to working in media sales…

What actually is media sales?

Media sales is a term that covers a whole host of jobs in loads of different places. It includes advertising in magazines and newspapers, on websites, TV, and radio, selling sponsorship for conferences and events, selling advertising space on billboards and poster sites, and selling subscriptions.

“We ring clients to pitch solutions on what would best suit them. It’s all about finding a need to help with their business; finding the right campaign and putting them in front of the right audience can change their whole business and the amount of money they make,” says Rebecca Hickson, a Senior Sales Executive at Haymarket who works on the business side.

In contrast, Jessica McFadyen works on the media side of Haymarket as an Agency Account Manager: “I have a territory of [media] agencies and it’s my job to make sure that we maximise on revenue from all the clients those agencies hold. Then once we’ve won business, it’s about maintaining that business by providing good campaigns and account management.

A career in media sales can involve a range of different interests – particularly if you consider sales roles on niche publications. If you’re particularly passionate about heavy metal or motorbikes for example, you might find that a role in media sales at a publication about that interest is right up your street.

So what’s an average day like?

We thought you might like to know what you could look forward to when working in sales, so we asked Jessica what a normal day is like for her.

“I usually have quite a few emails to reply to when I get in and I get a lot of briefs through which have deadlines, so I have to make sure that I have everything in place to meet them.

A big part of my job is account management which you can do via email but it’s always better to have a face-to-face discussion with people. I’m personally targeted against how many meetings I have in a month so a lot of that involves me going into central London, having meetings with these agencies at their offices, breakfast meetings, lunch meetings, you name it! On a day-to-day basis it’s meetings but we do activity days or we’ll take the client out and do something different so we get to know each other better because this industry is all about relationship building and networking,” she says.

Is it for me?

If you’re sociable and talkative (Rebecca only went for the job because the advert asked ‘do you like talking?’!) then yes, you’d be perfect for it! It’s all about building relationships – with clients, colleagues, bosses and admin staff. It’s really important to have great communication skills and be sociable and outgoing, but the real key to success in media sales is combining all that with energy, enthusiasm and self-discipline (which means sticking to deadines!).

It’s also perfect if you’re unsure about your career path: “It’s definitely something I think people should consider if they don’t know what they want to do. You learn more skills than you realise, you learn to negotiate, deal with objection, question better; all skills that can help in life generally and in most jobs,” says Rebecca.

What about qualifications?

There aren’t any formal qualifications required for media sale roles but a lot of companies prefer to take graduates and apprentices for these kind of roles and you don’t even need experience in sales (although it’s always good to have, of course).

Jessica entered Haymarket having already had experience in telesales, however she still went through the company’s two week Introduction to Sales course where entry-level recruits are taught how to manage phone calls and all the other elements the job requires.

Rebecca had no sales experience and really rates the training she had saying it’s one of the best things about the company.

Isn’t it really competitive?

Aggressive selling, shouting down the phone, if that’s what you think of when you think of ‘sales’, then it’s time for a rethink.

“I think a lot of people think it’s a phone-bashing, hard and fast environment and competitive and, to an extent, it is. But if you’re somebody who thrives off a little bit of competition, friendly competition, then it’s great,” Jessica says, adding “at Haymarket, there’s not really any territorial fighting”.

And where can I go with this?

Both Jessica and Rebecca agree that one of the best things are the team away days and nice London restaurants they get to visit, but there’s also massive scope for career progression.

Jason Alner, Haymarket’s Recruitment Advisor, explains how the training given to Sales Executives puts them on course for promotion from the start: “Sales Executives are likely to progress to Senior Sales Executive after the first 12-18 months and with each promotion, base salary and commission increase too so in addition to your career, your lifestyle will most definitely improve with it.”

Many of Haymarket’s senior managers and even their Managing Director started in a Media Sales Executive role so it just goes to show that hard work and enthusiasm pays off!

Jessica agrees: “Once you excel to a certain level you get an element of freedom so you almost become your own business person but working towards a common goal. Haymarket is definitely a company where you can expand and grow”. Sounds good to us!

Some advice on applying…

Seeing as Jason is the guy who’ll be looking over your application, we asked him what he looks for on CVs: “I’ll always keep an eye out for people that can demonstrate good communication skills, negotiation skills, a good understanding of customer service, as well as other desirable attributes such as being articulate, numerate and able to work in a team,” he says.

One thing he won’t be impressed with though are multiple typos in your CV and cover letter (so make sure you get someone to proof read it before sending it off!) but the mistake that will get you put on his ‘no’ pile quicker than you can say ‘you’re fired’? “When the cover letter is addressed to the wrong company or it references the wrong job! All it says is that the candidate is lazy and hasn’t spent time on the individual application.”

So now you know what Jason’s looking for and what he definitely doesn’t want to see, here are his 3 tips for making your application stand out:

1) Do your research on the role and the company!

2) Send a well written cover letter with your application. The cover letter should detail why this job is perfect for you and how your skills match each requirement of the job. A strong focus on unique skills is important, whilst trying to avoid those generic CV and cover letter statements.

3) As Haymarket’s training sets the media industry’s benchmark for quality, sales experience is not essential so applicants can draw experience from elsewhere such as university, college or part-time work.

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