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Microsoft to Google: WE love ad sales people

Yesterday I heard Harvey Weinstein wax poetic about the role movies played in his life, inspiring him as a young boy growing up on the streets of NYC; Microsoft's top sales person, Joanne Bradford, recounted today how advertising inspired her as a young girl and her story was, remarkably, similarly moving. Bradford also touted the Microsoft personal, high-touch sales approach over the Google impersonal, automated self-serve system.

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UPDATE: Joanne Bradford tapped to head MSN, according to AdAge reports. "We're open to helping define the intersection in the online space between what is content and what is advertising," Bradford said.

Joanne Bradford, corporate vice president of global sales and marketing and chief media revenue officer at Microsoft, is in New York City this week to launch Microsoft’s Digital Advertising Solutions at Advertising Week; Bradford keynoted a session this afternoon addressing “Social Responsibility” held at the Museum of Television & Radio.

Bradford believes social responsibility is a holistic affair and should encompass one’s business and personal lives. Bradford expressed her belief in her company, her profession and her industry and underscored the power of all to do good.

Bradford pointed out, however, that the life of a sales person in the advertising industry is a challenging one as both “sales people” and “advertising” are often maligned. Bradford conveyed that her innate passion for the industry and her role in it is what inspires her to put her position to good use.

Yesterday I heard Harvey Weinstein wax poetic about the role movies played in his life, inspiring him as a young boy growing up on the streets of NYC (see “Harvey Weinstein on movies, life and DVDs”). Bradford’s recounting today of how advertising inspired her as a young girl was, remarkably, similarly moving.

Bradford recalled how she cut out ads from magazines and put them up on her wall so that she could vicariously experience different places and things, just as Weinstein found “great escapism” at the Mayfair movie theater in Queens.

Bradford juxtaposed the “passive” print advertising she grew up with to today’s dynamic online advertising which solicits user interaction and she expressed enthusiasm for actively involving people in the advertising message. Bradford also pointed out, however, that it is incumbent upon the interactive advertising industry to police the online marketing environment. Bradford signaled the work the industry does to foster consumer engagement by reducing pop-ups, spam…

During the Q & A, I indicated to Bradford that her pro ad sales stance is a welcome one, especially in the “media capital of the world,” while pointing out that Eric Schmidt, Google CEO, put forth an opposite stance when he addressed media executives in NYC last June.

I recount Schmidt’s belief that the Google self-service advertising machine will render sales people obsolete in “Google CEO on ad sales execs: Google 'targeted ads' better”:

Google’s search dominance has led many to believe it will be the “killer” of any category it cares to enter: classifieds, e-mail, calendars…

The one sector Google is actually succeeding in disrupting, however, gets little attention: advertising sales. Google believes it is in the best interests of all to displace ad sales execs with Google ads. For Google CEO Eric Schmidt, a “targeted ad” is better than a “targeted sales person.”

Schmidt said, specifically:

As people see targeted advertising as a way of selling they shift sales dollars, not marketing dollars, into advertising. Literally, they would put advertising dollars into Google rather than hiring a sales person…

Eventually we would hope that a targeted ad would be better than a targeted sales person; The ad can serve 24 hours a day, the ad can serve anywhere, and the ad is cheaper. The ad doesn’t require a lot of management overhead and is much more cost effective to deploy.

There are a lot of products where traditional sales forces can be diminished.

When I pointed out to Bradford that Schmidt does not share her belief in the importance of interactive advertising sales people, Bradford said that she has had discussions with Schmidt about his philosophy on how automated ad systems will displace sales people and said that she disagrees with him.

Contrary to Google’s desire for its self-serve advertising auction system to decrease the need for the sales teams of the world, Microsoft is empowering its sales teams to be even stronger advocates for its advertising clients.

Bradford indicated that the Microsoft sales philosophy differs from the Google sales philosophy on several fronts: pricing, service quality, targeted ad placement and personal relationships.

Bradford does not wish to emulate a Google self-serve, automated, low price-point ad buying and serving system. Bradford believes quality brands require high-touch, quality service. Bradford is confident the personal relationship sales model she endorses will serve Microsoft well because brands are not willing to cede their identities to automated systems.

In concluding her presentation, Bradford wished the audience continued success in interactive advertising and noted that while there may not be any ad sales positions at Google, Microsoft would be happy to hear from ad sales execs.

Below is an actual Microsoft job spec for a sales opportunity:

Microsoft Sales: Sales Operations Management
Job Title: Sales Operations Management
Location: WA - Redmond
Requisition Number: 163564
Job Description: Director - Product Sales Strategy

Would you like to play an important role in shaping the advertising business that will enable Microsoft to reach $8B in global advertising revenue over the next three years? The Global Sales Strategy Team is looking for a Sales Strategy Director to partner with key Microsoft groups to effectively evaluate, scope, prioritize, deploy and execute on our Microsoft product and sales plans. To achieve success, this position represents the voice of sales and our advertising customers in our product development, and will partner closely with Product Management and Planning, Ad Planning, Sales Trade Marketing and Sales Leadership in our go-to-market process. This individual will provide specific ad product level recommendations and assume the single point of contact for sales leadership in the reconciliation of product sales issues and prioritization. This individual will work closely with all divisional stakeholders to ensure end to end business workflow support in meeting the sales revenue and customer satisfaction objectives.

Core Responsibilities:

• Partner with MSN and Windows Live Product Management and Planning, Ad Planning and Sales Leadership in product monetization development.
• Work closely with sales and trade marketing to help define, shape, and deploy our sales readiness plans and business workflows that support our product releases.
• Work with sales stakeholder groups in the gathering and prioritization of detailed business requirements and issues management to ensure action and reconciliation in the interest of meeting business goals.
• Facilitate and work to resolve critical sales readiness issues as they impact implementation plans.
• Represent the OSG sales organization goals, objectives and initiatives throughout Microsoft.

Leadership Qualifications:

• Demonstrated success in leading cross-functional v-teams and ability to build strong cross organizational synergies.
• Ability to lead and motivate others to achieve results.
• Demonstrated ability to work effectively with all levels of the organization.
• Ability to translate strategy into actionable plans.
• Persuasive style, strong decision making, problem solving, and analytical/quantitative skills.

Interpersonal Qualifications:

• Superior customer focus.
• Change agent, ability to drive change through influence.
• Ability to work effectively within a highly matrixed organization.
• Outstanding attention to detail combined with an ability to see the big picture.
• Exceptional communication, presentation and interpersonal skills across all levels in the organization.
• Solid organizational agility and cross team collaborator.
• Effective and efficient problem solving skills and drive for results.

Technical/Functional Qualifications:

• Proven ability to articulate a plan’s vision and benefits, providing a solid rationale to a multitude of partners.
• Experience in sales operations in a publisher or technology company.
• Strong business acumen.
• Excellent at managing systems and processes.
• Proficient with MS Project, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

Education and Experience:

• 8-10 years of professional experience, including digital advertising and technology industry experience.