Can Media Agency People Become Good Sellers?

A number of people have made the leap from the buy side to the sell side of the media  business. Sometimes it doesn’t work out.

Fortunately, there are plenty of examples of buyers that do make for great sellers. Allison Braham, formerly a media supervisor with MEC, joined the sell side in 2007 and now is the Beauty Sales Director for Hearst Digital. We caught up with Allison recently and asked her about making the leap to the sell side.

The Makegood: The knock on buyers moving to the sell side is sometimes they are on the back foot, waiting for things to come to them. How were you able to successfully make the transition to the sell side?

AB: In this industry we all put in a lot time, stay late, and come in on weekends. But one factor in determining if you will become a good seller is if you are motivated by performance-based compensation and as a result you’re willing to work even harder. Also, being able to deal well with rejection is another plus!

The Makegood: What skills did you learn on the buy side that gives you an edge on the sell side now?

AB: I think understanding holistically what goes into the communications planning cycle. From strategic planning to evaluating performance reports, there are many steps in between that if you’re brought up on the sales side you are never exposed to. Also, an understanding of the client/agency dynamic and the unique challenges that agency people face.

Understanding what an agency person may be “thinking” is considered priceless on the sales side. I can’t count the times I have been that inner-office shrink for my fellow sales friends when they don’t understand why they didn’t make the buy!

The Makegood: What was it like to join a big company like Hearst?

AB: I like to say when I joined Hearst back in 2009 (we only had been off the iVillage platform for two years) we were very much like a start-up, obviously within a traditional media company. We were just crafting our go to market strategy for our magazine brands while at the same time launching digital only properties like Real Beauty.

Like a start up, there were lots of moving pieces and we were evolving our offering almost daily. With recent acquisitions of iCrossing and Hachette, we continue to evolve our offering. We also have an internal innovation pipeline, where great ideas can be developed and funded internally.

Since Hearst has taken a test and learn approach to the app space there hundreds of apps being developed and the Hearst App Lab serves as an industry think tank for partnering with agencies and clients in the space.

Fostering a culture of innovation can happen anywhere, you just need the right people and environment.

The Makegood: How are the new digs at the Hearst tower? Are you glad to be out of the old Hearst Seventh Avenue office?

AB: Hearst Tower is an amazing building. It’s the first green office building in Manhattan. We are literally reducing the carbon footprint just by showing up to work everyday, so that’s a good feeling. Plus, we have a cool cafeteria with occasional celebrity sightings— so agency people like to come visit.

There is not much to say about the 7th Ave office aside from the conference rooms had no windows!

The Makegood: Thanks, Allison.