What Advertising Sales Agents Do
Advertising sales agents sell advertising space to businesses and individuals.
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 and communication skills are essential.
The median annual wage for advertising sales agents was $53,310 in May 2019.
Employment of advertising sales agents is projected to decline 6 percent from 2019 to 2029. Increasing Internet and television advertising sales will not offset the decline in advertising activity in print newspapers.
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.
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.
Advertising sales agents held about 139,200 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of advertising sales agents were as follows:
|Advertising, public relations, and related services||38%|
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.
Most advertising sales agents work full time. Some advertising sales agents work more than 40 hours a week. Some work irregular hours and on weekends and holidays.
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||Median Annual Pay, May 2019|
Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers
Advertising, promotions, and marketing managers plan programs to generate interest in products or services.
Insurance Sales Agents
Insurance sales agents contact potential customers and sell one or more types of insurance.
|High school diploma or equivalent||$50,940|
Sales managers direct organizations’ sales teams.
Wholesale and Manufacturing Sales Representatives
Wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives sell goods for wholesalers or manufacturers to businesses, government agencies, and other organizations.
|See How to Become One||$63,000|
For information about advertising sales in the newspaper industry, visit
For information about the radio advertising industry, visit
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Advertising Sales Agents,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/sales/advertising-sales-agents.htm (visited ).