The series’ broadened scope was reflected in the afternoon panel discussion, which featured top industry professionals from both sides of the industry.
The six-person panel unanimously agreed that forging a relationship of mutual respect between buyers and sellers is the key to success. “Mutual respect is irreplaceable,” said panelist Jennifer Sokol, a digital marketing and media consultant. “This translates into effective sales and effective buys.”
Panelist Bennett Zucker, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Real Media, an Internet advertising company based in New York, agreed with Sokol. “Buying and selling have been the same since the dawn of time,” Zucker explained. “People buy from people they like and people they have the most respect for. Who you took to dinner last week or to the Yankees game the other night might be the person who buys from you.”
The panelists then suggested ways for buyers and sellers to develop these relationships. “You want to feel that the person on the other side of the desk is listening to you,” said panelist Rich Gianicchi, media director from Modem Media, a Norwalk, Conn.-based interactive agency. “[The seller] should be a solution provider for you. When someone has helped you implement a successful program, that’s who you go back to.”
On the other side, buyers should explain why the seller didn’t win their business, said panelist Len Bilello, senior regional account manager for Internet advertising network DoubleClick, New York. “I love it when [the buyer] tells you why they didn’t make the buy,” he explained. “When they’re vague, it’s like they’re breaking up with you and refusing to tell you why.”
To win business, be a resource to your buyers, Sokol advised. “Be as proactive as possible, so [the buyer] sees you’re on their side all the time,” she added.
In the same vein, buyers shouldn’t take advantage of sellers’ eagerness to provide pertinent information, warned Zucker. “Sellers sometimes find themselves being a resource for buyers who have no intention of buying. [Sales] representatives are willing to roll up their sleeves and offer their help,” but sometimes buyers exploit that, he said.
Sokol then cautioned sellers against overpromising such as “saying ‘yes, yes, yes, sure we can do that,’ ” she said. “Advertisers will realize that what they were promised isn’t the reality of the buy.”
However, said panelist Rob D’Asaro, an account strategist from @tmosphere, the interactive division of New York-based BBDO, “When [a seller] promises and they deliver,” that solidifies the relationship.
To reach this end, the panel recommended that sellers assess the advertiser’s expectations and take proper action to communicate the advertiser’s message in the best way possible. Sharing information between buyer and seller creates this winning synergy, said Gianicchi. “When you are more closely aligned with what a client’s goals are, you are more successful,” he explained. “You can’t work in a vacuum.”
The other panelists agreed. Buyers and sellers need to communicate to implement strategies, they said. Panelist Christine Cook, vice president of national sales for Times Company Digital, New York, advised that sellers should make advertisers a top priority. “One of the biggest disasters is for the seller to be in it for themselves for the moment,” she said. She also encouraged sellers to call on reluctant spenders. “When you get those guys jazzed, that’s a good thing. You can get them up to speed and you can win them over,” she said. “But don’t burn them.”
Nearing the discussion’s conclusion, the panel reached a consensus–as online technology evolves, so too does online advertising. n
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