Sell Side Experience Is a Plus

I was catching up with one of our media sales partners last night.  She covers our agency for one of the big media conglomerates.  One of the topics we talked about which I want to reprise on this blog is about how important sell-side experience is on the agency side.   This is atypical for agencies to hire for thus generally never occurs.

I wrote a post about this back in 2011 but wanted to talk about it further.

Let me first start off by saying that I wish we hired more people with sell-side experience. We try but have not been successful.  Mostly because I don’t have a huge flow of resumes coming across my desk with sell side experience.

Why is having sell-side experience helpful?

You are grounded:  Coming from the sell-side, you are humbled every day in many different ways.   The woman who I was sitting with last night was telling me how entitled certain agencies are and some examples of what goes on.  You’ve read about plenty of these in provocative Digiday posts.  This is the complete opposite of what I would want for my agency and hiring people who have been humbled by that is something we’d certainly look for.

You are resourceful:  Selling something is a difficult task.  It’s about perseverance, hustle, research, and a bit of charm.  At agencies, we want people who are resourceful and have these traits because when working on groundbreaking media plans, these types of attributes help.  After-all, agencies sell things each and every day to our clients (media plans, etc).

You understand the sell-side perspective of how technology works.  I think this is probably the most important in terms of value back to the buy/agency side.  There are always three sides to every issue – what the seller says, what the buyer sees, and what really happens.  By having exposure and experience on the sell side, you can understand why certain things happen the way they do and where you can push when you are on the buyside.

If you work on the sell-side and want to try the buy-side, let me know.  I’d love to hire some more folks with your type of experience.


  • Mohammad Ali

    Great post Darren and it works the other way around as well. Sellers with agency side experience, IMHO, have an advantage vs sellers without–wish I worked on the buying side earlier in my career. That being said, the biggest challenge you are going to have recruiting “sellers” is the 50% or so pay cut they would have to take going over to the agency side. As always, good stuff! -Mo

    • Darren Herman

      Completely. I was thinking of adding this to the post but went without it. Thanks for adding it here as it’s importante as well. Thanks Mo!