Why Your Advertising Agency Can’t Sell Your Products

Your Advertising Agency Can’t Sell Your Products

Okay, maybe I spoke too soon. I obviously don’t know your advertising agency, and they might be great. It is just unlikely that they know how to sell any selling other than (maybe) advertising itself. That’s because advertising executives probably have worked in advertising their whole career and few of them have been trained as sales people. I spent about 7 years selling LED technology and lighting equipment, and have studied sales & marketing throughout my career in order to practice getting better.


Advertising & Sales Are Not Equally Important

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In this day & age people think they can learn everything from YouTube videos. While there is a wealth of information “out there,” practice is more important when it comes to something like sales. Advertising is a speculative business, so knowledge is perhaps more important than simple gut reactions and 1-on-1 conversational ability. In sales you need to remain connected to people, and to last in sales, you need to sustain those relationships over years.

Which is more important, advertising or sales?

Sales is more important. Don’t let your advertising agency fool you. If they can’t show you how their plan will directly impact sales figures & profitability, you are wasting your time and money with them. Sales may not be the only thing that matters, but it’s close. Simply in terms of the health of the company. Without sales you can’t float forever on investment capital or “brand awareness.”

For publicly traded companies the price of their stock is also important. However, don’t get it twisted. If you fixate on your stock price you may take your eye off the ball with regards to sales. Eventually what happens in that scenario is your stock gets inflated and crashes because once sales don’t show up the company tumbles. Advertising should support sales, and the stock.

Who’s Driving The Data?

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Facebook, Google, Amazon, Oracle, and a plethora of other tech companies are driving the data. They control it. They host it. Sell it. Trade it. Use it. These are the same sources telling us that advertising needs them AND that consumers want their advertising coming from here for a “better experience” of their advertising, whatever that’s supposed to mean.

Advertising agencies that don’t critically think just follow the trends. These platforms control and create trends, all of which are predicated on their products, and mindless executives follow their lead. There is no doubt that these platforms are all valuable and have provided a lot in the advertising industry as well as for consumers. But at the same time, it’s ridiculous.

Disconnected & Disinterested

The tech platforms that have been ravaging the advertising industry would prefer it if the world ran on a completely digital construct. That would be horrifying for human beings. But it’s what’s happening right now. And to the previous sub-section’s point, the people at the helm of these tech platforms (Facebook, YouTube, Amazon, etc.) are driving at the evidence to support their own existence. Don’t we all?

Sure we do.

But a software developer also likely hasn’t ever sold anything. Despite that, you’re trusting a series of companies who are built on developers, creatives, and others who have never had to sell anything other than advertising. Think about it. Even Facebook, which is on its way to a trillion-dollar valuation, what have they ever sold as a company? ADS.

See Mark Zuckerberg simply explain this in his senate hearing.

Early on, Zuckerberg and his board were selling shares of the company (kind of). Their products are essentially ads and stock. FACEBOOK IS AN ADVERTISING AGENCY.

How Can Advertising Agencies Learn To Sell?

Start making things people can buy. Develop products with your clients and put yourself on the hook to actually generate revenue. Invest your profits in acquisitions and grow those companies which help your business. Get your copywriters to try to bring in new business and show them the process. Make sure that people comprehend exactly how their job is paid for!

Show them the accounts receivable department. Print out your clients’ purchase orders for the account so they know what kind of money is being spent on your work (which they are a part of).

Something like that. I’m not saying definitely this level of transparency is necessary, that’s not the point. The point is that you need to connect your staff (who are not responsible for sales) to what sales is and how it makes the company work.

How Can Clients Get More Value From Their Agency?

Demand it. Review it. Don’t settle for the same old same old. When you’re being fed a line of bullshit say, “That sounds like a line of bullshit.” Put them through their paces. If you’re spending millions of dollars per year on marketing, you are investing in something. Ensure you get a return on that investment.

It is unacceptable that a creative agency or media buying company wouldn’t be on the hook for anything. That lack of accountability creates a lot of problems. On the flip side, if you are going to trust somebody or a company enough to do this kind of work for you, then you need to give them freedom to operate.

Acknowledge that you’re going to a specialist and trust them to make mistakes and figure out how to correct course. If you can’t take chances you’ll never learn anything new, and then you will only have historical data to demonstrate evidence. Which is bad. The past is a good indicator of the future for sure, but it is not a crystal ball that can predict with absolute certainty what will be.

Be patient. Experiment. Stop boxing yourselves into corners that choke out creativity and evade responsibility. Join forces with your marketing team or fire who you’ve got an find somebody new. Don’t settle.