Ad Sales Excellence Begins with Trust

By Thought Leaders Archives
Cover image for  article: Ad Sales Excellence Begins with Trust

A sales organization and every executive should recognize trust as the first step towards personal and professional growth and success. In The Myers Report Survey of Advertiser & Agency Executives, Trust and Reliability is ranked as the most valued attribute according to 700 advertiser and agency influencers who responded to the 2021 survey. Two-thirds (67.6%) of the respondents measuring 10 attributes provided by media sales organizations ranked Trust and Reliability as the most important attribute when in a business relationship. Other attributes that closely followed are Providing a Brand Safe Environment andRelevant Content and Programming.Cost Efficiency, Data Privacy CompliantandRelevant Targeted Reachalso generated positive importance ratings. But Trust and Reliability is the No. 1 attribute according to media buying influencers -- and with good reason.

Trust is earned over time by those who exhibit consistently reliable behavior and communication. This includes treating people with courtesy, respect, honesty and transparency. This pattern of behavior is a powerful force.

Stephen M. R. Covey, the son of Stephen R. Covey -- author of the 1989 bestseller The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People -- wrote about the economics of trust in his own important book titled, The Speed of Trust. He writes, "When trust goes up sales go up and time spent working goes down. When trust goes down, sales go down and time spent working goes up." He wisely points to the correlation between trust, sales and the value of time.

Trust in media sales is earned, not given. Trust is fragile, so building equity in the relationship provides the room to manage setbacks and unforeseen circumstances. View trust like a bank account where you make deposits and take credits. The larger the account balance the greater your protection when challenges occur.

A highly trusted organization lives and breathes consistency, continuity and reliability. It's key for leaders to build a culture that demonstrates, practices and maintains these basic components of trust. When trust in an organization is threatened by people, perceptions or press, management must step in and confront it directly and aggressively through reputation management. Maintaining regular communications assures organizational leaders have an established pipeline to influencers and stakeholders.

Here are behaviors common to media that contribute to positive or negative trust.

  1. Delivering on Audience Guarantees when selling a media schedule. Organizations that oversell estimates and do not make good or reconcile audience commitments damage trust. These business practices will make or break trust in today's highly accountable media ecosystem.
  2. Be proactive with information that is easily anticipated. Program changes, complex stewardship systems, and operating in real-time affect the performance of an advertising schedule. It is important when building trust to be transparent and communicate effectively about changes that impact expectations.
  3. Everyone plays a role, has responsibility and is accountable to building trust. Opportunities to create trust are everywhere and part of day-to-day activities. Everyone carries the weight. A promise fulfilled earns trust. A promise unfulfilled minimally requires a timely explanation. A promise broken damages trust.
  4. Trust is an all-the-time thing. Do not think you can turn trust on and off. It does not work that way. Trust begins with a single act (think bank deposit). Being on time (or not) is an easy way to earn (or damage) trust. Do not take another person's time for granted.
  5. Reverse actions that damage trust quickly. Mistakes, errors, failed systems, even poor judgement happen. Solving a problem quickly, and if possible, in person is an opportunity to build trust.
  6. Organizational trust is won by teams. Great teams require outstanding individual performances but equally important is for everyone to recognize how the team is better when everyone contributes to trust. Reward behavior that supports trust and hold individuals accountable when they damage trust in the organization. This may be the most underrated role of a leader.
  7. Trust is a habit to be discussed, understood and honored in the organization. Building trust requires positive action as well as good personal and professional habits. Leaders must honor behavior that earns trust and communicates success.

Trust is the sum of good products, people who care, leadership, process, operations, patience and support. Ad Sales Excellence itself is a never-ending commitment, and an organization that strives for excellence must value and put trust at its foundational core.

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