Five Principles for Winning as a Sales Professional

| Culture + Industry

Being a sales professional is a career I truly enjoy. The satisfaction I receive from managing and helping people grow is personally rewarding. I manage a great team of sellers and am frequently asked how they can continue to grow and succeed. What makes a seller a really great seller? Why are some people more effective with customers than others?  Being a sales professional in the digital media industry is by no means easy. The job is demanding and the expectations to constantly grow and evolve never disappear.

So what constitutes an exceptional seller? The answers tend to almost always be universal – being a great closer, the willingness to work very long hours, having “killer relationships.” Here is the real truth: those universal answers are just commodities. Being a great closer, the willingness to work long hours, and killer relationships are simply the “green fees”. In today’s very compact, fast-paced world, a first-class sales professional needs to be significantly more rounded to be considered valuable. Based on the insights from many of the nation’s top agency executives and marketers, there are a few common themes that exist in top tier talent.

  • Care Deeply: If you do not care about your customer’s business and their real business needs someone else will. You can rapidly differentiate yourself from your competition by becoming an expert on your customer’s business. Caring deeply goes beyond knowing who will RFP you for the latest media plan. Rather, it’s about understanding every aspect of your clients’ business, from product cycles to company financials. Take the time to become not just an expert but THE expert.
  • Be Human: Approach your clients with respect and treat them like human beings. Ad technology and media sales can be mind-numbingly complicated. Great sales professionals figure out how to help people—humans—solve real problems. They isolate those problems because they have a deep sense of what matters. Being able to isolate a problem, develop a solution, and execute against that solution flawlessly will differentiate you from others in the business. Human beings don’t like being sold to, they like having their problems solved.
  • Excuses Open Doors for Your Competition: Be accountable and do what is right for your clients. Very often sales people get trapped into overpromising capabilities and stretching their solutions just to close a deal. Great sellers own the entire sales process. Customers will always respect being given the honest answer. If you don’t do this, your competition most likely will. The high road always has a better view.
  • Be Collaborative: Nothing truly great has ever happened without team work. Your customers increasingly demand end-to-end solutions that work the minute they sign on the dotted line.  Use every resource at your disposal, from the people you work with to technology. Thank everyone who helps you along the way and give others credit before you praise yourself. Avoid making the sale about what you have personally accomplished. The revenue next to your name on the Salesforce dashboard tells a very clear story.
  • Be Career-Minded: Great sellers are often ambitious. Every month I get resumes from sales people that jump from job to job every twelve to eighteen months. 99% of the time sellers leave their current jobs in hopes of making more money or taking on greater responsibility. People who focus on income are people that are looking for a “job.” People that focus on all the things that an organization can do for them, from training to increasing their personal networks, are individuals who are truly career-minded.  Salespeople that then use those resources to deliver more efficient and targeted solutions for their clients will always sit higher on the value chain. Your best customers will be those that demand trained experts. Always focus on all the experiences, training, and resources that a company empowers you with and make the best use of those resources to drive world-class service.

One of the great job attributes of being a sales person is that you can own your own destiny and results. Take these attributes as a challenge and help yourself become a great and consistent sales professional. Happy hunting!

As VP of Sales, Nels Stromborg is responsible for leading Undertone’s Midwest, West Coast, and Canadian sales efforts. He is charged with driving all revenue growth within the region and guides the development of both Undertone’s go to market and sales strategy. Nels has a wealth of experience in digital media and sales; past positions include VP of Midwest and Canada Sales at appssavvy as well as Category Sales Director at AOL. He currently resides in Chicago.


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