I had an interesting assignment recently, which had an interesting outcome.
I was asked to find a senior account supervisor/junior account director on a very well known international woman’s HBA brand. The job specifications were very clear. The agency wanted to have category experience. The job, I was told, had been open for several months; I was told who they had seen and was surprised because I knew most of the candidates they had interviewed. A couple of them were excellent.
Nevertheless, I found them a wonderful account person they had not previously met. Honestly, I thought she was a shoe-in for the job. The feedback I received after she met with the group director was very thorough. She was the favorite person they had met, she had the absolute right experience, but she lacked knowledge of the trade and distribution. Of course, this was not part of the specs I received.
I called the hiring manager who is someone I have known for many years. She confessed to me that this was the reason she had also rejected some of the other people who had interviewed. I asked her what kind of information she was looking for. She told me that on this account, in addition to both traditional and digital advertising, they were also intimately involved with distribution. All their account people were familiar with distribution, had made sales calls with the client’s sales force and some of their very senior people had even met merchandise managers. The hiring manager was looking to duplicate that, if possible.
I told her that it simply didn’t exist anywhere any more. Account people just don’t do that anymore. While it was commonplace twenty and thirty years ago, it is simply no longer part of training or account management. The hiring manager, who was a very senior group director was somewhat surprised, since her brand was from one of the major CPG companies. She was unaware that other agencies which handled brands from the same parent company didn't do this. I told her I was delighted that they did this at her agency but that she would have to teach it to whoever was hired. She had pretty much come to that same conclusion.
Some months ago she hired my candidate. I spoke to the account person last week. She has indeed been on store checks and had met and traveled with several client sales people. The best part is that this addition to her background has re-energized her and given her an entirely new perspective on the brand and the advertising business; and, she said she can now have real marketing and sales discussions with her client. She has become a true partner.
Bravo for that agency and the account person.