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Am I the last sales professional? I don’t think so.

May 4, 2011

Steve Fawthrop

Dear Visitor,

Thank you for visiting this post.

In June 2014 I was approved to blog on LinkedIn and as part of gearing up my posts I did an updated version of the “Am I the Last Sales Professional” post. So for something fresher I recommend the more recent post:

If you are active on LinkedIn and it makes sense to connect due to our common industry interests or location (Seattle/West Coast), certainly feel free to send me an invitation.

I hope you find some benefit to this post. All my new posts are exclusively on LinkedIn so if you find any value you can “follow” and get notification. I am shooting for one a week.




I shelved a planned blog topic thanks to a post on LinkedIn that, candidly, annoyed me.

A linked article posted by a Google related group member had a heading related to essential tips for small businesses, but really undercut the role of a sales person as part of tips given. I want to address that.

First, I assumed the link, based on the heading, would be related to tips for better use of Google or other services like Bing, given the group interest. It was not.

The “article” was from E-Zine Articles. The site has a variety of short, advice driven postings (“Three ways to…”, “Five essential….”) that, I am confident, are written to pander to SEO rankings and generate ad revenue more than providing grand insight.

The article gave the tip for business owners to write their own ad copy (it was assumed they were being “sold” by a print rep of some sort) and that they should make no advertising investment unless they know for sure it will generate a 4X return on what they spend.

Huh? If you always knew you would get back $4 for every $1 you invested in some type of advertising and marketing, wouldn’t you constantly invest in it? Also, there was no explanation or justification for the 4 to 1 standard.

The article then added it is essential for the business owner to do their own copy writing and ad design because a sales person is just out for a commission and does not have a vested interest to be concerned about the business of the advertiser or their success.

This is an extremely weak commentary starting with the assumption that the sales rep, a newspaper or magazine rep for this example, has no interest in the business of the advertiser. It also assumes that sales person does not have an interest in using their knowledge and expertise to help the advertiser present their message as well as possible and to help get a return on the value of their investment in advertising.

I started as a local market rep in print media and expanded into national sales and other media in my career. I have worked with smaller, local businesses (retail and B2B) and with Toyota, Apple, United Airlines and other large national advertisers and their agencies. I matched recommendations or proposed ideas in line with the best knowledge I had about the prospect, their business goals and the assets I brought to the conversation: audience demographics, reach, research and different delivery options (display ads, inserts, online, event sponsorship, etc.) along with my own expertise and experience and advertising, marketing and general business knowledge.

As the account manager it was my responsibility, if we were helping with the creative and message positioning (obviously not something Apple has asked me to do), to best reflect the strengths of the product or service of the client.

Was this always perfect? No. Is it perfect today? No? Out of fairness to a local sales rep, if the client wants to run a 1X ad for a sale–assuming they are a retailer–and wants to cram their life story in an 8” ad, there is going to be a challenge in execution and, given the money involved, the rep and ad services department can only put in so much time on the effort.

A bigger challenge on an ongoing basis, especially when working with smaller advertisers, is their level of participation. They are more concerned with running their business that being a “marketing communications expert” on behalf of their business. They are not trained copy writers, graphic artists or website designers. They also do not want to put in a lot of time focusing on advertising. They want to run their business–which is their expertise–and sometimes that means they are expedient in their dealing with media reps, even if more time invested would really be in their best interest.

Fundamentally the advertiser wants to trust people, including those who write copy or design an ad, to do them right.

This is no different if someone is developing a PR campaign or search engine marketing campaign. If the SEM campaign does not have the proper structure in setting up ad groups matched to search terms, because knowledge is limited about the product or service, then the campaign success cannot be optimized. If the business owner sets up their own campaign, along the lines of the suggestion to write their own copy, it does not guarantee better results versus working with a firm that works in the online space every day.

In my career working in sales and leading others in teams I have not worked with people who made the sale to simply “make the buck.”  The vast majority knows their business, enjoy helping their clients and work to deliver the best results possible.

In the E-Zine article the columnist was simply being lazy.  As a true sales professional, I was insulted.


Steve Fawthrop

714-876-7062, cell


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