Reinventing the Wheel: What would media companies look like if sales leaders could create their own successful business model?

Author:Mateos, Evelyn

Twenty years ago, the news publishing world looked a lot different than it does today. Newspapers were still the main source of information for many consumers, and they had more cash flow and more people working in their newsrooms. Yet, presently, these same newspapers find themselves trying to do more with less, especially when it comes to generating revenue.

But knowing what we know now when it comes to sales and advertising, what would and what should newspapers do differently? E&P decided to find out by asking two newspaper sales executives and two sales consultants to look back at yesterday s sales model and build one for today's world.

If you had to start a sales model from scratch today, what would it look like?

Nick Johnson: Digital first, consultative sellers that understand the entire continuum of the marketing funnel. Today's sellers need to build solutions for critical minded and KPI driven marketers. From branded content to private marketplace programmatic solutions, a contemporary salesperson needs to represent the breadth of solutions available today. The team must be empowered to course correct with optimizations and the confidence to make recommendations, bold and subtle, to ensure success. Finally, sophisticated sales marketers that can present materials that make the complex simple and in formats that are nimble and non-linear so sellers can respond to needs and curveballs in real time.

Gary C. Valik: The sales model that we are basically redeveloping is one that features teams, total audiences and the importance of content. Moving away from top down structures to working group structures in which team leaders include co-workers from all sides of the company. This approach allows us to leverage all assets from traditional print product to new digital solutions, delivery assets and content provision for clients and audience. Flattening out the organization provides for re-allocation of funds to hire the diverse talents that are needed in today's sales environment.

Ryan Dohrn: I would create a model with a detailed focus on a team approach to selling--matching traditional sales experts with experts in other areas. There is an arrogance in sales that limits the larger sale because reps are overly protective of the client conversations. It is just human nature that an account executive (AE) will sell more of what they know well. If an AE is a digital expert, they might miss events. If the AE loves print, they often leave digital money on the table. Team selling often boosts total sales by 20 to 30 percent.

Janet DeGeorge: I worked at the San Jose Mercury News the first 13 years of my career back in 1980. It was a by-the-book classified department that ran like clockwork. We had sales specialists in each category; we had detailed numbers to guide us by the day, by the year and by the category. As managers, we had MBO's and Management by Objective, so the entire advertising department was on the same page. We had great communication from the top down and the bottom up with regular team meetings, and yes, celebrations. For the last 20 years, I have been a sales trainer who has been on site to...

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