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
2012 Median Pay $46,290 per year
$22.26 per hour
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, 2012 154,600
Job Outlook, 2012-22 -1% (Little or no change)
Employment Change, 2012-22 -1,000

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 $46,290 in May 2012. Commissions can make up a large percentage of a sales agent’s earnings.

Job Outlook

Employment of advertising sales agents is projected to show little or no change from 2012 to 2022. Declines in advertising activity in print newspapers will be offset by increases in Internet and television advertising sales.

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

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 possible
  • 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

Most 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 follow-up 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 increasingly sell 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 for a particular publication such as a newspaper.

In addition to maintaining sales and overseeing their accounts, advertising sales agents' other duties include analyzing sales statistics and preparing reports about clients’ accounts. They keep up to date on industry trends by reading about new and existing 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.

Sales agents may also be responsible for developing sales tools, promotional plans, and media kits, 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

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 154,600 jobs in 2012.

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.

The industries that employed the most advertising sales agents in 2012 were as follows:

Advertising, public relations, and related services35%
Newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers28
Radio broadcasting11
Television broadcasting6
Other information services3

Work Schedules

Most advertising sales agents work full time. About 1 in 5 advertising sales agents worked more than 40 hours a week in 2012. They frequently work irregular hours and on weekends and holidays.

How to Become an Advertising Sales Agent

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 or 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 most 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, or 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 or potential clients.

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

Pay

Advertising Sales Agents

Median annual wages, May 2012

Advertising sales agents

$46,290

Total, all occupations

$34,750

Sales and related occupations

$25,120

 

The median annual wage for advertising sales agents was $46,290 in May 2012. 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 $22,930, and the top 10 percent earned more than $103,170.

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 are usually 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 5 advertising sales agents worked more than 40 hours a week in 2012. They frequently work irregular hours and on weekends and holidays.

Job Outlook

Advertising Sales Agents

Percent change in employment, projected 2012-22

Total, all occupations

11%

Sales and related occupations

7%

Advertising sales agents

-1%

 

Employment of advertising sales agents is projected to show little or no change from 2012 to 2022.

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, although newspaper print advertising is expected to decline, some of this decline will be offset by the sale of ad space 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 digital ads intended for cell phones, tablet-style computers, and online radio stations. Digital advertising allows companies to directly target potential consumers because websites are usually associated with the types of products that possible customers would like to buy. Digital advertising can be done without an advertising sales agent. 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 advertising sales agents. Applicants with experience in sales or a bachelor’s degree should have the best opportunities.

Employment projections data for Advertising Sales Agents, 2012-22
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2012 Projected Employment, 2022 Change, 2012-22 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

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

Advertising sales agents

41-3011 154,600 153,600 -1 -1,000 [XLS]

Similar Occupations

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 2012 MEDIAN PAY
Advertising, promotions, and marketing managers

Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers

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

Bachelor’s degree $115,750
Insurance sales agents

Insurance Sales Agents

Insurance sales agents help insurance companies generate new business by contacting potential customers and selling 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 $48,150
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 $105,260
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 $57,870
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Advertising Sales Agents,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/sales/advertising-sales-agents.htm (visited December 20, 2014).

Publish Date: Wednesday, January 8, 2014