Going from Print to Digital in 2010. Too little too late?

Just read this great article on AdAge about how print sales people trying to transition into the digital world are having a tough time.  Whereas, years ago digital companies were looking to traditional media sales guys for their expertise, the same doesn’t quite hold true today.  In 2010, there are enough people with digital sales experience that the pure plays don’t really need to go outside their immediate network to find talent.  The funny thing is that most of the people interviewed for this article are themselves former print people.  They were able to make the transition, so why not give some other folks the same opportunity?

Well, the times are-a changing and they are changing quickly.  The technology sale is so much more complex than the print sale. Agreed.  If a digital company hires a print veteran, there will definitely be a ramp up period and often times companies simply need to put feet on the street.  They need to drive revenue and do it now.

However, as the bigger media companies continue to gobble up the little online companies and as media continues to converge, my feeling is that the future salesperson really has to be an expert in selling all forms of media.  The successful future media salesperson has to be duel-brained — analytical, yet incredibly creative to deliver major, multi-tiered programs that seriously speak to the advertiser.  This, in my mind, is where a print person could be of strong value.  He is accustomed to coming up with big ideas and selling concepts, vs. selling numbers, which is really the name of the game in digital sales.

I also think category expertise is important.  If you are a print guy and you’ve been selling to the health and fitness category, there’s a tremendous value to “owning” that category and knowing the key client-side figures for those accounts.  Not having the digital agency contacts is a tough barrier to get over, but, not necessarily insurmountable.

AdAge has some great tips for print folks who are looking to make this transition.   The best advice, in my book, is to take some digital courses. Learn how to talk the talk before you walk the walk.  For more helpful advice, click here….

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