What does a sales executive do?
Sales executives make it possible for an animated production to be shown - whether that be in a cinema, on a TV channel or streaming platform. They work on behalf of the producer to license the rights of the production to platforms or channels across the world.
Sales executives negotiate fees and commercial terms with platforms or channels. Their negotiations are based on their estimate of how much money the production will make at the box-office or through advertising or the sale of merchandise. In animation a much higher percentage of the revenue comes from merchandise than is the case with live-action movies. For example, Astley Baker Davies' Peppa Pig brand generates around £200m in UK sales of licensed products each year, which is 150 times its original production budget. It’s the job of the sales agent to accurately forecast this.
It’s usually smaller independent animation companies who need a sales executive as major companies have their work distributed by their subsidiary companies or an in-house team. Normally, an animation company needs to involve a sales executive before they start animating as they need deals to be secured as pre-sales before they spend money on production. Sales agents will pitch and promote the films to investors, platforms or channels using storyboards, scripts and concept artwork in the form of a pitch bible.
They are also responsible for promotion. They promote the films they represent at festivals and TV and film markets, invite film distributors to screenings and hold premiere parties. They assemble and organise the delivery of any physical film materials and are usually involved in developing the marketing plan.
Sales executives can work freelance or for a distribution company. They are continuously acquiring new content to sell from animators and they build relationships with clients all over the world, so the job usually involves travel.
What's a sales executive good at?
- Commercial awareness: have an awareness of cultural trends and know animated film audiences, understand and predict the market both globally and within individual countries, have an eye for talent that fits this (with the ability to read scripts quickly and thoroughly)
- Knowledge of animation: understand all aspects involved in making an animation, from script to finance to post-production, have a passion for the medium, an understanding of what’s out there and a critical eye
- Marketing: be enthusiastic with strong sales skills to secure competitive deals, be able to outline the story of a film in a succinct and engaging way face-to-face, have an understanding of digital marketing and social media
- Networking: establish good relationships and communicate constantly with distribution outlets and festival programmers as well as with animation studios and individual filmmakers, use language skills to travel and embrace other cultures, have a wide knowledge of film festivals and markets
- Negotiation: be flexible, able to negotiate conditions, draw up contracts, understand licencing, copyright
- Finance: deal with figures, have the financial knowledge to make sales predictions, negotiate funding and handle a budget