Advertising Sales Agents

Summary

advertising sales agents image
Advertising sales agents contact potential clients, make sales presentations, and maintain customer accounts.
Quick Facts: Advertising Sales Agents
2015 Median Pay $48,490 per year
$23.31 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education High school diploma or equivalent
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Moderate-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2014 167,900
Job Outlook, 2014-24 -3% (Decline)
Employment Change, 2014-24 -4,500

What Advertising Sales Agents Do

Advertising sales agents sell advertising space to businesses and individuals. They contact potential clients, make sales presentations, and maintain client accounts.

Work Environment

Advertising sales agents work under pressure to meet sales quotas. They work in a range of industries, including advertising agencies, radio, television, and Internet publishing.

How to Become an Advertising Sales Agent

Although a high school diploma is typically enough for an entry-level advertising sales position, some employers prefer applicants who have a bachelor’s degree. Sales experience and communication skills are essential.

Pay

The median annual wage for advertising sales agents was $48,490 in May 2015.

Job Outlook

Employment of advertising sales agents is projected to decline 3 percent from 2014 to 2024. Increasing Internet and television advertising sales will not offset the decline in advertising activity in print newspapers.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for advertising sales agents.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of advertising sales agents with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about advertising sales agents by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Advertising Sales Agents Do About this section

Advertising sales agents
Agents may spend much of their time visiting prospective advertisers and maintaining business with current clients.

Advertising sales agents, also called advertising sales representatives, sell advertising space to businesses and individuals. They contact potential clients, make sales presentations, and maintain client accounts.

Duties

Advertising sales agents typically do the following:

  • Locate and contact potential clients to offer their firm’s advertising services
  • Explain to clients how specific types of advertising will help promote their products or services in the most effective way
  • Provide clients with estimates of the costs of advertising products or services
  • Process all correspondence and paperwork related to accounts
  • Prepare and deliver sales presentations to new and existing clients
  • Inform clients of available options for advertising art, formats, or features and provide samples of previous work for other clients
  • Deliver advertising or illustration proofs to clients for approval
  • Prepare promotional plans, sales literature, media kits, and sales contracts
  • Recommend appropriate sizes and formats for advertising

Advertising sales agents work outside the office occasionally, meeting with clients and prospective clients at their places of business. Some may make telephone sales calls as well—calling prospects, attempting to sell the media firm’s advertising space or time, and arranging followup appointments with interested prospects.

A critical part of building relationships with clients is learning about their needs. Before the first meeting with a client, a sales agent gathers background information on the client’s products, current clients, prospective clients, and the geographic area of the target market.

The sales agent then meets with the client to explain how specific types of advertising will help promote the client’s products or services most effectively. If a client wishes to proceed, the advertising sales agent prepares and presents an advertising proposal to the client. The proposal may include an overview of the advertising medium to be used, sample advertisements, and cost estimates for the project.

Because of consolidation among media industries, agents are increasingly selling several types of ads in one package. For example, agents may sell ads that would be found in print editions, as well as online editions, of a particular publication, such as a newspaper.

In addition to maintaining sales and overseeing their accounts, advertising sales agents analyze sales statistics and prepare reports about clients’ accounts. They keep up to date on industry trends by reading about both current and new products, and they monitor the sales, prices, and products of their competitors.

In many firms, the advertising sales agent drafts contracts, which specify the cost and the advertising work to be done. Agents also may continue to help the client, answering questions or addressing problems the client may have with the proposal.

In addition, sales agents may be responsible for developing sales tools, promotional plans, and media kits, all of which they use to help make a sale. In other cases, firms may have a marketing team that sales agents work with to develop these sales tools.

Work Environment About this section

Advertising sales agents
Companies generally set monthly sales quotas and place considerable pressure on advertising sales agents to meet those quotas.

Advertising sales agents held about 167,900 jobs in 2014. The industries that employed the most advertising sales agents were as follows:

Advertising, public relations, and related services 36%
Newspaper publishers 14
Radio broadcasting 10
Television broadcasting 8
Other information services 4

Selling can be stressful because income and job security depend directly on agents’ ability to keep and expand their client base. Companies generally set monthly sales quotas and place considerable pressure on advertising sales agents to meet those quotas.

Getting new accounts is an important part of the job, and agents may spend much of their time traveling to and visiting prospective advertisers and maintaining relationships with current clients. Sales agents also may work in their employer’s offices and handle sales for walk-in clients or for those who call or email the firm to ask about advertising.

Work Schedules

Most advertising sales agents work full time. About 1 in 4 advertising sales agents worked more than 40 hours a week in 2014. Some work irregular hours and on weekends and holidays.

How to Become an Advertising Sales Agent About this section

Advertising sales agents
Advertising sales agents must actively seek new clients and initiate communication with current clients in order to meet sales quotas.

Although a high school diploma is typically enough education for an entry-level advertising sales position, some employers prefer applicants with a bachelor’s degree. Proven sales success and communication skills are essential. Most training for advertising sales agents takes place on the job.

Education

Although a high school diploma is typically the minimum education requirement for an entry-level advertising sales position, some employers prefer applicants with a college degree. Publishing companies with large circulations and broadcasting stations with a large audience may prefer workers with at least a college degree. Courses in marketing, communications, business, and advertising are helpful. For those who have a proven record of successfully selling other products, educational requirements are not likely to be strict.

Training

Most training takes place on the job and can be either formal or informal. In the majority of cases, an experienced sales manager instructs a newly hired advertising sales agent who lacks sales experience. In this one-on-one environment, supervisors typically coach new hires and observe them as they make sales calls and contact clients. Supervisors then advise the new hires on ways to improve their interaction with clients. Employers may bring in consultants to lead formal training sessions when agents sell to a specialized market segment, such as automotive dealers or real estate professionals.

Advancement

Agents with proven leadership ability and a strong sales record may advance to supervisory and managerial positions, such as sales manager, account executive, and vice president of sales. Successful advertising sales agents may also advance to positions in other industries, such as corporate sales.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Advertising sales agents must be persuasive during sales calls. In addition, they should listen to the client’s desires and concerns, and recommend an appropriate advertising package.

Initiative. Advertising sales agents must actively seek new clients, keep in touch with current clients, and expand their client base, in order to meet sales quotas.

Organizational skills. Agents work with many clients, each of whom may be at a different stage in the sales process. Agents must be well organized to keep track of their clients and potential clients.

Self-confidence. Advertising sales agents should be confident when calling potential clients (making cold calls). Because potential clients are often unwilling to commit on a first call, agents frequently must continue making sales calls, even if rejected at first.

Pay About this section

Advertising Sales Agents

Median annual wages, May 2015

Sales representatives, services

$51,540

Advertising sales agents

$48,490

Total, all occupations

$36,200

 

The median annual wage for advertising sales agents was $48,490 in May 2015. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $22,840, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $114,350.

In May 2015, the median annual wages for advertising sales agents in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Other information services $58,010
Advertising, public relations, and related services 56,020
Television broadcasting 50,590
Radio broadcasting 41,650
Newspaper publishers 36,440

Performance-based pay, including bonuses and commissions, can make up a large portion of an advertising sales agent’s earnings. Most employers pay some combination of salaries, commissions, and bonuses. Commissions usually are based on individual sales numbers. Bonuses may depend on individual performance, the performance of all sales workers in a group, or the performance of the entire firm.

Most advertising sales agents work full time. About 1 in 4 advertising sales agents worked more than 40 hours a week in 2014. They frequently work irregular hours and on weekends and holidays.

Job Outlook About this section

Advertising Sales Agents

Percent change in employment, projected 2014-24

Sales representatives, services

7%

Total, all occupations

7%

Advertising sales agents

-3%

 

Employment of advertising sales agents is projected to decline 3 percent from 2014 to 2024.

Media companies will continue to rely on advertising revenue for profitability, driving growth in the advertising industry as a whole. Employment growth of advertising sales agents will largely follow broader industry trends. For example, newspaper print advertising is expected to decline, but some of this decline will be offset by the sale of digital ads on newspaper websites. Therefore, although employment of advertising sales agents is projected to decline in the newspaper publishers industry, it is not projected to decline as fast as other occupations in that industry.

However, an increasing amount of advertising is expected to be concentrated in digital media, including online video ads, search engine ads, and other digital ads intended for cell phones or tablet-style computers. Digital advertising on the Internet allows companies to directly target potential consumers because websites usually are associated with the types of products that those consumers would like to buy. Digital advertising can be done without an advertising sales agent, possibly dampening growth for this occupation. For example, in some cases it can be done through a software application or search engine program. Therefore, an increase in digital advertising expenditures will not necessarily result in increased demand for advertising sales agents.

Job Prospects

Competition is expected to be strong for jobs as advertising sales agents. Applicants with experience in sales and those with a bachelor’s degree should have the best opportunities.

Employment projections data for advertising sales agents, 2014-24
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Advertising sales agents

41-3011 167,900 163,400 -3 -4,500 [XLSX]

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

Career InfoNet

America’s Career InfoNet includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of advertising sales agents.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help 2015 MEDIAN PAY Help
Advertising, promotions, and marketing managers

Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers

Advertising, promotions, and marketing managers plan programs to generate interest in products or services. They work with art directors, sales agents, and financial staff members.

Bachelor's degree $124,850
Insurance sales agents

Insurance Sales Agents

Insurance sales agents contact potential customers and sell one or more types of insurance. Insurance sales agents explain various insurance policies and help clients choose plans that suit them.

High school diploma or equivalent $48,200
Sales managers

Sales Managers

Sales managers direct organizations' sales teams. They set sales goals, analyze data, and develop training programs for organizations’ sales representatives.

Bachelor's degree $113,860
Wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives

Wholesale and Manufacturing Sales Representatives

Wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives sell goods for wholesalers or manufacturers to businesses, government agencies, and other organizations. They contact customers, explain product features, answer any questions that their customers may have, and negotiate prices.

See How to Become One $59,080
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Advertising Sales Agents,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/sales/advertising-sales-agents.htm (visited June 28, 2016).

Publish Date: Thursday, December 17, 2015

What They Do

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Work Environment

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State & Area Data

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Job Outlook

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2015 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2015, the median annual wage for all workers was $36,200.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2014

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2014, which is the base year of the 2014-24 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2014-24

The projected percent change in employment from 2014 to 2024. The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.

Employment Change, 2014-24

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2014-24

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2014 to 2024.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

2015 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2015, the median annual wage for all workers was $36,200.