Innovation will keep media sales swinging

Innovation will keep media sales swinging

Leaver: recruitment director of Sales Associates

In 1967, when I entered the media industry, I thought media was the most exciting place to be - and I still do! Thecollision of content and technology produces ever more creative ways of imparting information, entertainment and advertising.

Today's listeners to Xfm and Kiss 100 would be amazed at the buzz that the pirate stations generated and when, from October 1973,only two commercial stations in London ruled the airwaves. In the '80s, my local direct sales team at LBC took so much money out of the London marketplace that it caused me a problem. Senior managers may say that they don't mind if the sales team earns more than they do. They mean once, not consistently.

In the early '90s, at United Artists London South, we made local cable TV commercials for £750. The trick was to make sure that the audio track was reasonable. If it was, the visuals could be fairly static. The cabling process was traumatic for Croydon, Sutton, Kingston and Richmond as UA's hole-diggers cut a swathe through suburban streets.

When I got into recruitment in 1999, online was hot. My placements encountered a world where everything was new, even the way the sales team behaved. My friend Ricky, experienced in press, TV and radio, when he went to run the sales team at a dotcom, was horrified. "They were all bent over their terminals doing e-mail" he said, "Nobody said 'fuck' all day!".

And it doesn't stop. The pace of innovation now is breakneck. Machines will whisper commercials at you as you use them. You'll find plasma screens in the unlikeliest places. Your mobile phone will ask you if want to see a video, for a small fee, of the goal that Beckham scored three minutes ago. You'll store hours of music in your wrist watch.

A constant in all this change is the need for great sales people. People who understand how you can put a message across in different media and who can listen to what the client really wants. Now I'm running the recruitment team at Sales Associates and I'm still energized by this wonderfully louche, creative industry.

Forecasts suggest that the economy may improve next year. In any case, those of us who've been around for a while know that what goes down, can come up. So pack your rate cards, make sure you spend your expenses budget, dress to impress - and come back with the order!

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