Is the IAB Digital Media Sales Certification Necessary? Blog Feature
Steve Bookbinder

By: Steve Bookbinder on June 17th, 2013

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Is the IAB Digital Media Sales Certification Necessary?

Digital Media Landscape | Sales Tips | Sales Training

IAB_CertThe IAB offers a Digital Media Sales Certification. The program was created by and for industry experts. It raises the level of professionalism by allowing salespeople to demonstrate their knowledge of the most important concepts, guidelines and best practices in interactive advertising. Likewise, companies benefit by ensuring that they have the most knowledgeable sales teams possible.  Some companies have already embraced this and are offering to pay for their employees who are qualified to take this test. 

For those of you still on the fence, consider the following:  

What serves the advertiser best? 

Isn’t this our fallback criteria for all decisions?  The test is for sellers and other client-facing digital sales professionals who have been in the business for at least a few years.  For them, the test will be challenging but passable. However, for rookies with less than 2 years of experience, this test may be too daunting.  It is this very fact that makes the certification so very valuable.  People who sell other media usually recognize each other’s competence by the number of years they have been in that business.  Without question, a 15 year veteran of print or television sales knows what they are talking about.  But, in the digital arena, a person with 15 years’ experience can probably tell us all about the early days of AOL and Friendster, etc., but may not be ready to address advertiser’s concerns about mobile apps.  It is not the years, but the miles, so to speak. 

Advertisers are best served by professionals who understand how to leverage 360° campaigns across multiple platforms that engage users through social media and SEO.  Without the right chops, the seller doesn’t even know what to ask let alone what to present.  People who pass that test can truly help advertisers.

What serves the media company best? 

Every digital publisher I have spoken to in the last few years has told me that their offering keeps expanding but their competition now includes non-traditional peers who may have more visitors, uniques, page views, etc.  These kinds of competitive differences can only be overcome with skills and knowledge.  The alternative is business lost to competitors as well as selling wrong, where clients with the goals that don’t fit your sweet spot are being worked on tirelessly by your already-overworked service team.  That is the recipe for defeat.  An IAB Certified sales team knows how to compete correctly.  It’s like the NFL out there, digitally speaking.  Do you really want to play against an NFL team with an intramural flag football team of non-certified sellers?  You are buying the best content, partnering with best resources, using the best technology – and then you want to cheap out with non-certified sellers?  What does that communicate to the rest of the industry about your commitment to excellence?


What serves the sales team best?

Investing in your players builds a team much more effectively than a team-building day in the woods.  Yes, the certification challenges your team to be at their best.  Why would you –or they – be satisfied by anything less?  Best case, they have a stressful day on the day they take the test.  Worst case is that they prepared for the test and “wasted” some time learning things they didn’t know but come up daily.

The commitment to professionalism by passing the IAB test communicates to peers, partners and clients that the seller and their organization is in this game for the long haul.  What does not being certified communicate?

Sign up here for the Digital Sales Certification Training



About the Author:


Steve Bookbinder is Co-founder and CEO of Digital Media Training, a training partner to some of the most successful sales organizations around the world.  DMT delivers training which treats sales as a competitive sport and changes behavior needed to help sellers consistently win.  DMT is a leader in M-learning training reinforcement with a proven track record of improving sales through training. Steve has delivered more than 500 keynote speeches at national sales meetings, conducted more than 3,000 training workshops and trained, coached and managed more than 35,000 sellers and managers from leading companies around the world for more than 20 years.


About Steve Bookbinder

Steve Bookbinder is the CEO and sales expert at DMTraining. He has delivered more than 5,000 workshops and speeches to clients all over the world and has trained, coached, and managed more than 50,000 salespeople and managers. Steve continuously refreshes his training content to reflect his latest first-hand observations of salespeople across industries and regions. Through him, participants in his workshops and coaching sessions learn the best practices of today’s most successful sellers and managers across industries. Steve understands that sales is a competitive game. To outperform competitors and our own personal best results, we need to out-prospect, out-qualify, out-present and out-negotiate everyone else, not merely know how to sell. Through his specialty programs in Pipeline Management, Personal Marketing, Great First Meetings, 2nd-level Questioning, Sales Negotiating, and Sales Coaching, Steve trains sales teams to master the skills they need to overcome the challenges they face in today’s world… and keep improving results year over year.

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