Advertising sales agents sell advertising space to businesses and individuals. They contact potential clients, make sales presentations, and maintain client accounts. They often work under pressure to meet sales quotas. They work in a range of industries, including advertising agencies, radio, television and internet publishing.
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Advertising sales agents generally do the following:
Most advertising sales agents work outside the office occasionally, calling on clients and prospective clients at their places of business. Some may make telephone sales calls as well—calling prospects, attempting to sell the media firm's advertising space or time, and arranging follow-up appointments with interested prospects.
A critical part of building relationships with clients is learning about their needs. Before the first meeting with a client, a sales agent gathers background information on the client's products, current clients, prospective clients, and the geographic area of the target market.
The sales agent then meets with the client to explain how specific types of advertising will help promote the client's products or services most effectively. If a client wishes to proceed, the advertising sales agent prepares an advertising proposal to present to the client. The proposal may include an overview of the advertising medium to be used, sample advertisements, and cost estimates for the project.
Although a high school diploma is typically enough for an entry-level advertising sales position, some employers prefer applicants with a bachelor’s degree. Courses in marketing, communications, business, and advertising are helpful. Proven sales success and communication ability are essential. For those who have a proven record of successfully selling other products, educational requirements are not likely to be strict.
Most training takes place on the job and can be either formal or informal. In most cases, an experienced sales manager instructs a newly hired advertising sales agent who lacks sales experience. In this one-on-one environment, supervisors typically coach new hires and observe them as they make sales calls and contact clients. Supervisors then advise the new hires on ways to improve their interaction with clients. Employers may bring in consultants to lead formal training sessions when agents sell to a specialized market segment, such as automotive dealers or real estate professionals.
Selling can be stressful because income and job security depend directly on agents' ability to keep and expand their client base. Companies generally set monthly sales quotas and place considerable pressure on advertising sales agents to meet those quotas.
Getting new accounts is an important part of the job, and agents may spend much of their time travelling to and visiting prospective advertisers and maintaining relationships with current clients. Sales agents also may work in their employer's offices and handle sales for walk-in clients or for those who telephone the firm to ask about advertising.
The median annual wage for advertising sales agents was $45,350 in May 2010. (The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less.) The lowest 10% earned less than $22,780 and the top 10% earned more than $96,040.
Performance-based pay, including bonuses and commissions, can make up a large portion of an advertising sales agent’s earnings. Most employers pay some combination of salaries, commissions, and bonuses. Commissions are usually based on individual sales numbers. Bonuses may depend on individual performance, the performance of all sales workers in a group, or the performance of the entire firm.