5 Things I Wish I Knew as a Media Sales Rep


At the beginning of the year, I took a new position as a Regional Marketing Manager for Quick Quack Car Wash. I left my job selling media advertising to try my hand on the other side of the business: the client side. So far, the change has been fun and exciting- I still have that new job feeling where I kind of know what I’m doing, but still learning a lot. Starting to feel comfortable, but still don’t always know what to do. There are some aspects of my job that I predicted. However, I was surprised to learn a few things I wasn’t expecting.

When I go to lunch with old co-workers from my five years in media sales, I always get asked one question: how is it being the client for a change? Now, for anyone who ever used to make a living by cold calling or “dialing for dollars”, this won’t surprise you when I say it feels empowering to be on the other side of things. I mean I kind of figured it might be, but I will admit it’s refreshing to be the one in the power seat. I try not to take that responsibility lightly because I do remember what it was like to be on the grind every day and working for commission (shout out to all my friends still working hard in sales every day!) I try to be as transparent as possible with all the reps I work with because nobody likes a guessing game and I want to be considerate of their time, especially when I know their time is literally money.

Hindsight is a funny thing, isn’t it? I remember so many times when I was in media sales, I would reach out to a Marketing Manager, Business Owner, or other qualified decision maker and I wouldn’t hear back for days, weeks, months… Seriously, one time it took someone three years to FINALLY respond to countless emails, phone calls, drop ins, messenger pigeons and other self-loathing attempts to grab their attention. (Spoiler Alert: I never heard from them again after that one time.) I used to take it extremely personally and even get frustrated: did these people think they were too good to talk to me? Did they not understand that I actually had something of value to show them? That my idea was going to double their sales that month or single-handily turn around their business?

Could you imagine if I actually sent one of these to a business? Creepy!

I’ve been in my new role for almost three months and by no means do I claim to be an expert. However, I have learned so many lessons that I wish I knew (or believed) when I was on the other side of things. I’ve shared some of these thoughts with my friends I made throughout the years in sales and I wanted to share them with you. So in no particular order, here are a few things I learned that I wish I knew when I was hitting the pavement every day:

  1. Marketing Managers get hit up by everyone under the sun. I remember my managers telling us this every day… “You have to be persistent, you may not get a response until the fifth of sixth phone call, but keep calling.” Everyone has their different sales style and I was not comfortable being someone who called/emailed/walked in to a business too many times in a short period of time. Now, I wish I had been. If someone asked me what the #1 thing was that I was surprised to learn in my short time as a marketing manager it would be the sheer volume of people that reach out to me. Sometimes you need five or six phone calls just to catch me at the right time.
  2. Just because a Marketing Manager isn’t getting back to you, doesn’t mean they aren’t interested. I know sales reps, I was like you 3 months ago. Why wouldn’t someone return your call if they are interested in your product? Well, speaking for myself… some days I am in meetings, visiting sites, setting up for an event, trying to get last minute creative changes done, handling urgent requests from my boss and team, forgetting to eat lunch until 3 pm, confirming a fundraiser, and that’s just Monday! When I say you were on my top list of people to call back, I almost always actually mean that. Sometimes a reminder or a nudge is just what I need to remember to ask you about next steps or gather more information.
  3. You aren’t just competing with other media companies, you are competing with the entire market. This one seems obvious, but it really didn’t occur to me until I was in this role. When I sold television and radio, I thought my only competition were other media outlets. Radio, television, print, outdoor, digital- those are where are all the dollars go right? Wrong. I have done business with or had requests from: all the media I mentioned, every hometown publication in every city near every location, Little League teams, high school sports, professional sports, semi-professional sports, chambers of commerce, city officials, non-profits, adopt a highway and so many other random organizations. When you look at it that way, it’s pretty discouraging right? Well, maybe it’s more competitive than you thought, but now you know there are plenty of new ways to prospect.
  4. Marketing Managers really are quite busy. I used to think this was the biggest cop out. “Yeah Linda, you’re sooooo busy you couldn’t call me back or return my emails for a week.” Well, I could have, but I value sleep and if I never put the computer down I’m pretty sure my husband and dogs would start a rebellion. If a marketing manager tells you that they’ve been busy and haven’t been able to get back to you as soon as they’d like, try believing them. Chances are they have some issues they are trying to resolve and you could be their white knight with the solution to their problem.
  5. Marketing Managers appreciate the reps that make their job easier. I was told this by a few of my clients, but I really appreciate that sentiment now. If a rep makes my life easier, I love them. I want to do business with them. I am going to choose them over the competition every day of the week. I could write a whole post on ways sales reps can be helpful, but to give you a small taste: follow-up with them when you say you will, listen to what their problems are and bring them helpful and relevant solutions, be a resource for them in your industry or the market as a whole, support their company’s events and fundraisers, remind them about deadlines they have with you, send them analytics/recaps/pictures before they ask, and get to know something about them as a person- sales are relationships after all. Most sales reps do these things anyway, at least the good ones. But it’s always a nice reminder. Oh, and they really do appreciate the perks like free tickets, just saying

About the Author:  Courtney Hardy-Wagner is currently is in charge of marketing duties for Quick Quack Car Wash in her hometown of Sacramento. Connect with her on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/CourtneyHardyWagner