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How to Sell Yahoo-Style

Three keys to a more perfect pitch

1. Catch bees with honey.
In the 1990s, Yahoo's salespeople thought they had such a hot product that they could be arrogant with clients. When their industry crashed, they learned the value of listening closely and working cooperatively with customers.

2. Break through the silos.
Ad salespeople usually talk only to media planners — the agency executives who actually buy the ad space. But Yahoo found it could promote online advertising by holding seminars for creative directors, who conceive and write the ads, to help educate them about the new medium.

3. A rising tide lifts all boats.
Yahoo puts as much emphasis on promoting online advertising as a medium as it does on pitching itself. Yahoo's Terry Semel even spoke about the industry at his archrival Microsoft's annual "summit" for its big advertisers alongside Bill Gates and CEO Steve Ballmer.

A version of this article appeared in the January 2005 issue of Fast Company magazine.