Publishers face many challenges that did not even exist 10 years ago. But before they surrender to Facebook, Instagram and Google, publishers should ask themselves if they are really doing everything they can to build their business. Or are they copping out?
This starts with the challenging job of managing salespeople, pushing them from their comfort zone and creating accountability. Maybe it’s not the economy, the competition, the market or the web that is hurting business; maybe it’s publishers not maximizing their potential.
The job of publisher is based on hiring, training and retaining good salespeople.
This demands the publisher to keep their office door open and do more than go to events. Start by asking how familiar you are with these forecasters of sales doom:
- We can’t afford to hire more sales people. Really? Nobody can afford sales people who do not close business, but if a publisher finds a dynamic, motivated seller, hire them. There is always a territory or category to carve out. Hire slow; fire fast. You are not doing a young person any favors by keeping them in a job they are not good at. Hire and motivate your team, and they will pay for themselves.
- We are not currently interviewing for salespeople. Lazy! Interviewing for good salespeople is ongoing. You don’t have to interview them for an hour. Keep the channels open. If you are shorthanded and lose a salesperson, you may scramble and compromise on the next hire and the slippery slope of sales doom continues. The publisher is in control with enough salespeople. The team is in control when there are too few salespeople. Plus, candidates coming into your office keep the current team on their toes.
- Business is off, so we are not replacing salespeople. Can you say implosion? Business will continue to be off as you allow your sales staff to do “less with more” instead of challenging them to do “more with less.” Salespeople are not paid to be order-takers; you pay them to close business.
- We can’t sell schedules during the year. Lame. The days of fall planning are over. Local and regional advertisers work on their advertising all year. Give prospects a reason to buy, and you will close schedules all year. If your prospect will have to pay a penalty to cancel and run with you, adjust their rate to cover that expense. While the majority of business will be posted by the end of January, there is no reason to not to sell schedules all year.
- Our salespeople go on 3-4 calls per week. It’s not surprising business is off. How about shooting for 15 calls per week? If a sales person spends an hour preparing for each call, and each call takes an hour, then the salesperson has used up 30 hours of their 40-hour workweek. It is always interesting when a salesperson says they cannot hit their goal and then admits to only going on 3 or 4 calls a week. It’s all a numbers game: phone calls, meetings, closing business.
- That is a house account. Cheap shot. House accounts are demoralizing and show a lack of appreciation for salespeople. A salesperson that closes business is valuable and taking business from the team hurts morale. Use house accounts as a reward and motivator, but give your salespeople as much of an opportunity as possible to earn money.
Once the publisher has checked all the necessary boxes, he or she can start blaming the economy, the digital and the competition.
Is the publisher the best seller in the office? Do members of the team invite the publisher on their calls? Does the publisher negatively compete with the team? Is there high sales team turnover? Until these questions have been answered, the burden lies with the publisher—and the revenue numbers never lie.
More about Lou: Lou DeLone, aka the Fractional Publisher is an ad sales consultant. You can reach him at Lou@whipadvisors.com, LinkedIn and on the web site Whippoorwilladvisors.com
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