How ViacomCBS is Using Consultative Selling to Identify Opportunities

April 21, 2020

With changing habits in media consumption, the onus is on publishers to solve each advertiser’s uniquely adapting needs. Winmo CEO Dave Currie spoke with Nick Pollack, senior director of ad sales strategy for ViacomCBS to see how his team is taking a consultative selling approach to ensure their clients get the exposure they need right now.

Table of Contents:

  1. What is happening at ViacomCBS right now? (00:13)
  2. How is your team adapting with the changes that came with the merger? (1:17)
  3. What are your successful representatives doing channels? (2:09)
  4. Can you speak about consultative selling and how you have adjusted to identify more opportunities? (3:51)
  5. How is your team adjusting to changing KPI’s and metrics? (5:21)
  6.  What type of marketing tactics and cadences are you using to get in front of the right buyer? (07:41)

Dave Currie: Today we have Nick Pollock with us. He is the senior director of ad sales strategy for ViacomCBS. What’s happening at ViacomCBS? You’re on the front lines of connecting brands with consumers, would love to get your perspectives.

Pollack: Yeah, certainly. Like the rest of the world, we are firstly making sure that everybody is staying safe and staying well in this Covid world. As it relates to our goals here, we are trying to continue to provide the best marketing solutions available to our brand partners. What that looks like today is being good partners in kind, adjusting schedules and messaging so that it fits for the brands, and making sure that our sellers are equipped and have what they need to hit the street and tell the story of the combined power of ViacomCBS and what that portfolio offering looks like today, tomorrow and then post Covid.

Currie: And certainly, with the merger of the two heavyweights now pretty well solidified, how’s the team adapting maybe some of the packaging and what that looks like, especially now?

Pollack: Yeah. Well, I’ll say it is certainly a work in progress as we combine networks and platforms. ViacomCBS has a cable network suite, we have broadcast, we have print with Simon and Schuster, which we don’t really work with, but digital, social influencer, brand and programming. And step one is educating everybody, showing the left hand, what the right hand is doing, and making sure that we are going to market with one voice.

Currie: We’ll talk a little bit about how maybe the sales team’s been adapting. Certainly, there’s a lot of change in the marketplace today. What are some of the successful sales reps doing in those respective channels?

Pollack: Yeah. I think it really comes back to consultative selling and what that means today versus yesterday. The onus is on us as partners to help solve each client’s problem. Their problems are very unique today. Different verticals are grappling with different unique challenges. Some are doing quite well. E-commerce is having quite the day, but our sellers are experts in providing marketing solutions. What they’re doing now is triaging and being that voice, that helpful voice.

Pollack: Triaging what are the things we can do to help adjust marketing messages, if it be that adapt something to be a PSA or adapt… ViacomCBS has an incredible integrated marketing team that can provide those sorts of creative solutions for clients that may not have that ability to cut a new commercial quickly. We can do that. Our sales team is working very hard to make sure that clients have solutions to those immediate problems.

Currie: Talk a little bit about consultative selling, which really is always a good practice, now more than ever perhaps. One of the things that was also really interesting I think is some of the ways in which you guys work from a strategic perspective on business development, as most do, but there’s also the element of tactical selling, which is going out there capturing more of that long tail. Any thoughts on how that may have changed in identifying those more tactical opportunities?

Pollack: Yeah. What we say, for the consultative selling approach, ViacomCBS is in an advantageous position because we have different products to meet different needs. You can’t really be an effective consultative seller, if you can only sell them one thing. That’s what I mean by giving the sellers the toolkit to understand and diagnose what’s the right product for the right client at the right time.

Pollack: The transactional opportunities, that scatter opportunity is a cutdown of that consultative approach. It’s like, I know that this certain client is in the marketplace for digital video right now. Let me make sure we’re getting to them, we’re socializing to them what our capabilities are and what we can do for them. The hardest part about that is understanding who to talk to when, which is why Winmo is such a valued partner for us.

Currie: Well, I appreciate that. It’s going to continue to be a lot of change in the habits of media distribution and the ways in which some of the KPIs are measured. We talked a little bit about ROI and some of those challenges that surround the capture of that return investment right now, a lot of the metrics being very different in terms of looking at intent data versus some of the more vanity metrics. Any thoughts around how the team’s addressing some of that?

Pollack: Yeah. Again, going back to the multi-product approach, we have to provide solutions specific to client needs. To be successful marketing partners, you have to guarantee on impressions, if they want a guarantee on impressions, or clicks, if they want to guarantee on clicks, understanding what success looks like at whatever phase of the marketing funnel that client, that specific advertiser’s trying to achieve. Success is, from a sales enablement standpoint, taking for granted the fact that we have the capability to do these things, which we do, it’s equipping the sellers with the knowledge of the different products and different transaction capabilities so that they can then bring that to the advertiser and simply diagnose and present what they can do.

Pollack: There are so many options for clients, for brands right now. It’s an unenviable position to have to aggregate the dis-aggregated and decide which OTT platform am I going to spend my money on. Which publishers align contextually with my brand messaging? What sort of outcomes, how are we going to define that we’re recapturing or recouping our investment? As consultative sellers, ViacomCBS, we’ll go to those partners and say, “These are the different ways that we can guarantee your schedule and prove an outcome.”

Currie: Some good insight there, Nick. I guess from a viewer standpoint to this interview, be interesting to hear a little bit about how you’re aggregating that broad sort of information about all of the different options down into something that’s much more actionable by the recipient. And how is the team going to market, getting that, instilling that down and what sort of frequency and cadence are they using to get that in front of the right buyers?

Pollack: I’m not sure if this will answer your question specifically, but I’ll do my best. What we aspire to do at ViacomCBS is present a very simple media plan, this is how much you’re giving us, and this is what you’re going to get in return. If that includes custom content, great. It will include a guaranteed impression, a guaranteed view or click or some sort of guaranteed outcome. It’s having that transparency in everything that we do, this is what’s going in and this is what’s going out. That transparency, consistency is what’s important.

Currie: As part of the sales ops side, are you and your team getting some of that information and putting it into materials that are, then it’s going off towards the sales organization to prospect with?

Pollack: Not necessarily. When we talk about guaranteeing against certain outcomes, it really is specific to that client and that client’s campaign. Any one client could have multiple campaigns running at any given time, and they may be trying to achieve one thing, CPM for reach and a CPC for conversion or something to that sort. We’re not necessarily aggregating it, but that’s not to say there wouldn’t be some use to that. If you could think about it vertically, are there certain trends that we can identify, certain contextual trends or pricing trends? Anything like that would be incredibly helpful.

Currie: Well, I appreciate the time and the insight into what’s happening at ViacomCBS. Nick, thank you very much for the time this afternoon.

Pollack: Thank you as well, Dave.

Currie: Cheers, mate.

Pollack: Cheers.


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