Hiring Your Next Ad Sales Executive

As an ad sales training consultant, I am often asked to pass along the names of ad sales reps that are looking for work. When asked about candidate qualifications, most of my media company clients respond by saying they are looking for 7-10 years of ad sales experience, great communication skills and the ability to work with little or no supervision. Oh, and the candidate should be “highly motivated.”

Are those qualifications realistic? Will a veteran rep out-perform a brand new rep? And, by the way, what does a bad hire cost you? As a point of reference, experts say a bad sales hire can cost a media company over $100,000! (This applies to companies with revenues of less than $10 million per year.)

According to other experts, that number may be low. Clearly, avoiding a bad hire is an important objective.   Here are four questions you may want to ask yourself before you begin the process of hiring your next new sales rep.  

Question #1: Do you really want an experienced media sales person or do you want to teach someone from scratch?

I would like you to consider hiring a person who has been in the workforce, but perhaps has not sold media. Why? We are selling advertising in a new day and age. The methods most often deployed by veteran media sales reps simply do not work anymore. This does not mean that all veteran media sales reps are “old school” in how they sell. It just means that you will want to explore this question.

Many of my ad sales training and coaching clients say, “Ryan, I will just re-train them.” I would suggest that this only works about 50% of the time. When push comes to shove and times get tough, people tend to return to their comfort zone of using old habits and methodologies.    

Question #2: If not a media sales veteran, then who?

I would like for you to consider hiring someone with the following qualifications; well-spoken, good written communication skills and some background in the internet or digital space. If you have some type of ad sales training program in place, you can put this type of candidate through your training, provide them with constructive mentoring, put solid accountability in place, and you will see some serious success as a result.

One thing that is often difficult to gauge is a candidate’s internal drive. In other words, how hungry does this person need to be in order to pursue new business?  I often ask the following questions of new candidates. “What do you know about this company and our industry?”, “What do you want to accomplish at this company?” and “What have you done to prepare for the job?”.

Question #3: What will you do to ensure the success of the new ad sales person?

This is an important question to consider. All too often media company leaders hire the new ad sales rep and then walk away, which is understandable considering their pressure-packed position. However, this practice results in a scenario that almost guarantees poor performance on the part of the ad sales rep.

Think about establishing a formal training process that will support the new sales rep during the critical first few months, and one that includes valuable mentoring time.

A large majority of my clients had no formal media sales rep training program in place prior to meeting me. As a result, they experienced problems associated with marginal performance from new reps.   Learn from their mistakes, and start planning how you’ll help the new ad sales person achieve his/her goals.

Question #4: Should I use pre-hire testing?

The answer to this question is 100% yes! Pre-employment testing can lead to additional company benefits, such as saving time and cost in the selection process, decreasing turnover, and even improving morale.

Using a Google search like “pre-hire sales testing” will locate a number of companies offering this service.  You will find that the upfront expense of the pre-hire testing is a wise investment that will reap long-term benefits.

These are four simple but important questions to ask yourself before making a decision on your next new sales rep.  Often, the person that looks the best on a resume is not always the best hire. I strongly encourage you to dig a bit deeper into your strategy before you make a bad hire. I saw a quote recently that said, “‘Be slow to hire, and quick to fire.”   Sometimes free advice is worth more than the price you pay.

About this blogger: Ryan Dohrn is an award wining ad sales training coach, a nationally recognized internet sales consultant, international business speaker and is the President and founder of 360 Ad Sales Training, a boutique internet revenue consulting firm with a detailed focus on ad sales training, internet consulting and media revenue generation.   Internet consultant and business conference speaker Ryan Dohrn travels the globe teaching media sales training classes and offers detailed coaching help to business owners and media companies looking to make money online.

Contact information:

Ryan R. Dohrn


360 Ad Sales Training and Strategy

Brain Swell Media LLC





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