What is an Advertising Sales Agent?

Cassie L. Damewood

An advertising sales agent is a representative of a media publisher or promotion company who sells advertising. Her clientele is diverse, as it includes anyone who is in business, from small independent business owners and entrepreneurs to large corporations. The types of advertising she sells can involve all the media lines of television, radio, magazines, newspapers and the Internet or any combination thereof. She may also sell specialized advertising such as that found on billboards, park benches or blimps.

Media publishers need sales agents to fill their advertising spaces.
Media publishers need sales agents to fill their advertising spaces.

Most agents in the advertising industry are outside sales representatives who call on businesses either with or without an appointment. The latter approach is commonly referred to as cold calling. Due to the competitive nature of the business and the wide range of personalities that are encountered, it is vital for the advertising sales agent to have great communication skills and an engaging demeanor to achieve success.

Newspapers employ advertising sales agents to sell classified and display ads.
Newspapers employ advertising sales agents to sell classified and display ads.

An inside sales agent normally works on-site, and customers come to them to purchase advertising time or space. These agents may be required to solicit business by telephone or by sending e-mail message offers to potential customers. The contacts are targeted based on former inquiries, demographics or referrals.

After a sale is made and a contract is signed, the advertising sales agent becomes the conduit between the customer and the advertising agency. If the customer is ordering a display ad, as used in print and Internet publications, she generally prepares a mock up of the customer's ad based on their stated preferences. After the graphic arts department prepares a proof, she presents it to the client for feedback. This process continues until the customer approves and initials the final copy for publication.

If the desired advertising is a radio or television spot, the agent serves as the go-between for the production staff and the customer. Much like the print ad scenario, ideas are exchanged and modified until the customer is happy. When the final cut is approved, the customer signs off, and the ad is broadcast on radio or television.

Besides selling the ad and satisfying the customer, the advertising sales agent is responsible for maintaining account files and contracts, scheduling appointments and generating reports. The reports reflect current sales statistics, goals and objectives, target markets and projected sales figures. The agent may also be required to create and develop sales tools and promotional plans to increase sales.

As in many sales positions, a successful advertising sales agent can earn a lucrative salary. She must be able to work long hours with varied and challenging personalities. Success in the position can lead to promotions into management and supervisory roles.

An ad sales agent sells specialized advertising that may be found on billboards.
An ad sales agent sells specialized advertising that may be found on billboards.

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