Search for the World’s Greatest Salesperson

Seven years ago on a stage at Cannes, we finished a four-month global quest seeking to identify the ‘World’s Greatest Salesperson’ — a person who could embody David Ogilvy’s “We Sell, or Else” belief and help us explore how sales has changed in the digital age.

The winner, we promised, would not only get a trip to Cannes to compete on stage, but earn a job at OgilvyOne helping us research this question and then present it at the DMA Conference several months later.

Todd Herman was one of three great finalists, already an entrepreneur and performance coach with a digital media business, was great fun to work with. (He also happened to be among the very first to submit the first entry selling a red brick on Ogilvy’s YouTube channel.)

I loved this contest, not just because I got such great support from the minute I proposed it with my colleague Mish Fletcher, but because of what we learned running it across our network in nearly a dozen markets. Clients were so glad we took up the gauntlet of reasserting the importance of sales as well as trying to bridge marketing to sales.

We debuted the effort in The New York Times ad column with Stuart Elliott and, as spokesperson, I was interviewed on everything from “Sunrise Australia” to NBC Philadelphia. At Cannes Lions the following year when I was a juror, the project only nabbed Finalist but, alas, we also sold a red brick and got to Cannes.