The world of digital media sales can be extremely complex – not only does digital marketing evolve quickly, but consumer behavior and business priorities are constantly shifting and evolving as well.
It takes a very specific and special type of person to not only get into digital media sales but to thrive in it. And, lucky for us, at LOCALiQ we have a large team of people who do just that!
Andrea Vick is the vice president of sales for the Austin market and manages a team of digital media sellers who work directly with local businesses to connect them to the right marketing solutions so they can grow their businesses.
We wanted to talk with Andrea to understand what it takes to work in digital media sales, how digital media sales has shifted over the last 12 months, and what people might be surprised to learn.
Hi, Andrea! Tell us how you got started in digital media sales.
I always loved writing and journalism growing up, and my grandfather worked for a newspaper — he was the editor for the Chicago paper for decades. So, I always had an affinity for the newspaper business, and when I was a senior in college, I went to a career fair the university was hosting and met one of the HR representatives from the Austin Statesman and just fell in love with her — She was a great ambassador for the Statesman.
I ended up starting an internship with them in the PR and event side and continued the internship through my last year of school and decided that’s what I wanted to do.
I hounded them as I was coming up on graduation for a job, and one opened up on the support side for sales, so I started out as an account coordinator. I was working with account executives to get their ads entered, ordered, and paid, and I quickly realized I wanted to be in sales — I didn’t want to be in writing, I didn’t want to be in events — I wanted to be a digital media seller. I wanted to help businesses thrive, and also be in control of my earnings through hard work. And so, I moved into that role six months after I started and have loved it for the last 16 years.
Tell us about your role now.
I stepped into the role of Vice President of Sales for the Austin market on March 11 last year, and then we went into quarantine on March 12. So, it was a wonderful first day, and then day two was a train wreck, and it’s been a wild ride ever since!
Wow, what a first week and year! What does a typical day in digital media sales look like for you?
There is no typical day! My current day is Zoom meeting, after Zoom, after Zoom. People who aren’t in this industry or in this role say, ‘It can’t really be like that, you have to have a break.’ But I really don’t – it’s 8 a.m. to 6:30 or 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and we’re always on.
We [VPs of sales] have a team that is responsible for revenue. I’m responsible for revenue in a major market, and so my day starts fresh in the morning with team calls and making sure everybody knows what they should be doing along with any updates. Then client calls and regional updates, product updates, and training.
My favorite part of any day, though, is when I’m in front of a customer. If I could do that all day long I would.
Is there anything you think people would be surprised to know about digital media sales?
You know, at the end of the day, it’s just like selling anything else. Yes, there’s a lot of change, and it can be difficult to navigate, but the goal stays the same. A normal customer or client doesn’t want to – or need to – understand everything going on in the background.
They just want to have confidence that you know what’s going to work best and drive results for their business and then make the right decisions there.
What would you say is the hardest part of working in digital media sales?
Tempering my own expectations is difficult for me because I’m a quick learner. I’m also very competitive and a self-starter, so it’s hard for me to remember that not everybody has the same goals and expectations for themselves and that that’s okay. As long as they’re doing their job and they’re doing it well. So, I think just keeping my own expectations in check and not getting too high or too low as part of the natural ebbs and flows of sales.
You mentioned a few qualities that seem like good digital media sellers would need to have. Can you tell us about what it takes to excel in this position?
I would say that it’s changed a little bit in this past year. And the main thing that I think that people need to have is grit and hustle. If you need to be micromanaged every day and told to go out and do the basic functions of your job, this isn’t the job for you. You have to be a self-starter.
I think another quality of our best sellers is that they listen very well, and they can link what a customer is saying to the right solution or strategy.
The other thing that I think a successful digital media seller needs — this past year especially — is to be able to thrive in chaos, because since March 12, 2020, it has been chaos and change from start to finish. And those that are able to succeed in that are absolutely ahead of the rest, and I think there’s still a learning curve there.
What would you say is the most rewarding part of your job in digital media sales?
Seeing someone that I brought onto the team who has never worked in digital media sales and watching them become our number one seller and someone that the rest of the company is looking to for advice, case studies, and to lead training sessions across the company is incredible for me.
I never thought when I was a sales rep that I would ever feel that way about watching someone else succeed and that their success would be more exciting than my own, but it is. And I love that rush that I get when someone on my team does something well and succeeds and I’ve seen the path to get there. That is very rewarding.
Speaking of your team, I follow you on LinkedIn, and you post a lot about your team and about team building. Why is that so important?
There’s a great book that I read called No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention, and it talks about the importance of team, and how we need to think of our organization as a team rather than a family. In a family, it doesn’t matter what you do, you’re always going to be appreciated and loved — you can’t do any wrong. A team is different in the fact that you’re always competing for your spot, and if you’re not doing your job it’s going to affect the rest of the players in the team.
That being said, if you watched the Superbowl and saw the chemistry between Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski – they’re a team, yes, but they genuinely care about each other. You can see that — it’s palpable when you watch them being interviewed.
You’re always going to perform better when you have a vested interest in the people around you, and when you know that what you do affects their day-to-day and their success. And so, it’s important to me that I have people around me that have the same goals and values and want to succeed as much as I do because, especially in my role now, I can’t be successful unless everyone on my team is successful. And if they’re not, then I’m a failure.
So it’s really important, especially for the younger demographic in our workforce, that they feel that sense of belonging. And it’s important for me as well, but it’s extremely important to that younger demo. They want to feel that connection and like they’re collaborating, and they don’t want to be dog-eat-dog; they want to help. And as a team, we always need to be striving for better than we were yesterday.
How have you and your team been keeping in touch right now?
We’re on Zoom, like, 24 hours a day. I feel like we see each other and interact more than we did when we were in the office. We’ve also been trying to do outings safely, and our office is open, so there is a handful who come into the office.
And, so much of my team are friends outside of the office, so they’re connecting as friends all the time, too.
Why would you say that digital media and digital marketing are so important – especially right now?
If you look at our digital consumption, especially over the past year, it has skyrocketed. I think the last stat that I saw is we were spending an additional hour every day online and an additional 30 minutes a day just consuming video online.
So, if you’re not there, you’re missing eyeballs, and you’re missing all of your audience. And people don’t want to get out — even those who are fine with getting out aren’t going out as often because companies have adapted and moved online. When they had to shut down, they brought on e-commerce or they found a way to sell what they were selling through Facebook or social media. It’s trained us now — we don’t really want to go anywhere if we don’t have to.
If it can be easy, and we can sit at home and get the same products, why not? So that’s why digital marketing is extremely important right now.
What advice do you have to people looking to get into or advance their careers in digital media sales?
Find a couple of mentors throughout a couple of different organizations and get as much training and help and guidance as you can. And find ways to learn on your own. There are plenty of opportunities with Google and other online resources that can give you that baseline knowledge and skills.
So, I would say anyone that is interested in breaking into digital media sales needs to do that background work first and show that they really understand the basics and align themselves with mentors that can help lift them up in organizations and show them the ropes.
What advice do you have for leaders in general right now?
One of the things that I’m struggling with right now is that I think we all thought – falsely – that when we got to March or April of this year, everything was going to go back to normal. And that’s just not true. We’re still very much in the middle of a pandemic, and businesses are still hurting.
And so, my advice is just to stay consistent and keep your confidence. Get back to the basics. Don’t lose your confidence — keep doing the things that got you on the top of the mountain in January of 2020, and we’ll get back there.
Have some patience, and I’m mostly talking to myself there because I’m extremely impatient. This is a new ballgame for me. I’ve never been in a position where I felt like I’m not doing enough, but I know I am. This situation is completely out of our control in a lot of areas, and so we’re all feeling like we can’t do enough quick enough to get us back to where we were pre-pandemic.
I think it’s also important to keep that in mind that, for a lot of people, this is the most difficult thing they’ve ever been through, and it also is not forever.
That’s a great point. What do you think is the best advice you’ve received?
Set the agenda before it’s set for you. That came from a colleague, mentor, and friend of mine, Scott Pompe.
If you want something, you have to speak up – say it out loud and ask for it. So, I try to do that in my day-to-day and tell my team to do that as well.