The Word Works

Consuming Japan


Super Salesmen

Published By: John on 04/16/07
Categories: Advertising Marketing Senden Kaigi

The gentlemen you see here are featured in the 4/15/07 issue of Senden Kaigi devoted to account executives, the people who do the ad agency’s hardest jobs. Each is an expert in one of the areas indispensable for those aiming to succeed in this increasingly challenging field. Read on to see what they have to say.image

1. New Business Super Eigyo
  UCC Coffee Marketing Bucho
  ?D???b???@Orikata Keisuke

Q1. What is the best way to approach a new client?
A1. Treat those you are talking to as equals.

Bring your own point of view to everything you observe, why frankfurters are sold in two-pack sets, for example, or why a package has this particular form. Don’t just thoroughly research the client. Thoroughly understand your own company’s strengths, since these are what you have to sell. Be confident in the strengths you discover. Never be fawning or excessively humble.

Q2. How do you avoid being nervous when interacting with a client’s Advertising Division chief?
A2. Be powerful.

It all depends on how you think about it. Put yourself in the shoes of the client’s president for whom the Advertising Division is only one part of the company. Treat the conversation as a dialogue, recognizing that the client may have different opinions about your proposals or access to information that you don’t have. Think “sharing.”

2. Orientation/ Presentation Super Eigyo
DG&Ibex Founder
???????@Tsujii Ryoichi

Q3. What should you pay most attention to when receiving an orientation?
A3. Don’t assume that the client is right.

Your goal at an orientation is to understand the issues confronting your client. My experience suggests that in many cases the client may be unaware of all of the issues at stake.  An account executive must be ready to help the client discover and address those issues. Critical points to keep in mind include the division to which the person giving the orientation belongs and the source of the budget. Someone from the advertising department may be more interested in image-building. Someone from a sales division may be more interested in sales promotion.

Q4. How do you avoid giving presentations that miss the mark?
A4. Think carefully about your company’s position.

To my mind, the account executive is the top planner and producer and must take good notes at the orientation. Without a clear understanding of what the client wants, presentations may go astray. If you feel that you lack experience and are likely to miss something, be sure that other members of your team attend the orientation. Later, in the final stages of preparing a presentation, consider your own company’s position from the client’s perspective. If you are seen as the likely choice, throw a fast ball. If you are not the likely choice, try throwing a curve, instead.

3. Teamwork Super Eigyo
McCann-Erickson Japan CEO
???V?????@Nakazawa Junichi

Q5. How do you pull external and internal staff together to form an effective team?
A5. To move people, you must first earn their respect.

An account executive must be able to sort out relationships with all sorts of people, both inside and outside his company and bring them together to form a theme. Their respect is indispensable. He must also be closely attentive to trends, observing not only the client’s activities, but also social and consumer movements. One could say the same, of course, of all marketers and planners, but this ability is essential in the one who has to lead the team.

An account executive must be a conductor.

Like the members of orchestras, people who work in the communication industries are highly individual. The art lies in combining their strengths, so that 1+1 doesn’t equal 2; it equals 4 or 5. This ability is not restricted to those who have reached a certain age. Sincerity is the key.

Q6. How do you restore morale when relations between client and in-house staff have soured?
A6. Things you don’t like, even failures, are opportunities for growth.

When you lose your positive energy, it is easy to feel depressed. My experience teaches me that whenever this happens I have an opportunity to grow. However hateful the people or the job, I can, at least, promise myself that I will never act like this.  I can also tell myself that the sun will rise in the morning, tomorrow will be another day. There is no pleasure like work that goes well. I remember that as I move on to the next job.

4.  Troubleshooting Super Eigyo
kazepro Representative Director
???????@Toneri Naoki
Q7. How should an account executive handle relationships with client and staff when troubles occur?
A7. Every problem should be an opportunity!

Our work involves people, so problems are unavoidable. Regard them as chances to demonstrate how you, yourself, can do your job right. So, if trouble occurs, be ready to take responsibility for it, even if it isn’t your own fault. It is your job to deal with the client, come what may. Even if the problem is due to a company unrelated to your own, it is the account executive’s job to take full responsibility, to apologize and restore good relations with the client. This stance will improve your standing with your suppliers as well as your clients.

Adopt a consultant’s perspective.

Consulting means constantly asking yourself what is best for the client’s business. Putting the client first and taking responsibility will win the trust you need for your own business to succeed.

5. Relationship-building Super Eigyo
Shingata Soken Account Planner
???c?N???@Matsuda Yasutoshi

Q8. What do we need to do to be more than just order takers?
A8.?@Charm and IQ. Both are essential.
Sales is seduction, so nothing is more important than combining charm and intelligence to create a comfortable mood. Charm alone will leave you just an order taker. IQ is also essential. Since it is natural, however, for the client to know more about the client’s business, the account executive should carefully study other industries and be able to offer success stories involving other firms.  It is also important to consider every issue from the client’s president’s perspective and carefully present ideas that you are confident will be good for the client’s business. Don’t simply take orders from the Advertising Division.
Note, too, while ad industry people are often believed to offer consumer insight, that alone isn’t enough. What clients most often find lacking in ad agency presentations is business insight. They do want to see that you understand their industry and their business and can offer unexpected insights here as well.

Q9. Are there times when an account executive thinks, “If only”?
A9. When you don’t understand, be modest and ask.

No matter how much you study, there are always things you don’t know. Don’t be bashful when this happens. Modestly ask your client about them. Look for surprises. Even if you don’t use them immediately, jot down ideas and have them ready to use, at a half-year branding review, for example. Pick up key concepts from successful campaigns across a wide spectrum of industries. Combining them you are sure to find good answers for your clients’ needs.


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