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Nancy Cawley Lane writes a blog about disruption in local media and her thoughts are
definitely worth the read. Check it out at https://www.linkedin.com/today/author/11309770
ey sales reps — we want you to
sell lower priced products that
are complicated and require a ton
of extra training. And we’re going to send
a buddy on sales calls with you to help sell
those lower priced products. And we’re go-
ing to pay double commissions to you and
your buddy on those smaller dollar sales.
And if you dare sell too much of the higher
priced stuff, and not enough of that lower
end stuff, we’ll penalize you.
Does this sound like a winning busi-
Of course not but it’s where we are
as an industry. I get it. I understand the
reasons why companies go this route. But
I also think it is time to pivot and change
We have hurt our high dollar print and
broadcast sales by requiring the tradi-
tional reps to focus so much on digital.
Print and broadcast sales still pay the bills
and will for a long time for most local
media companies. What would happen if
we freed up the traditional reps to do what
they do best and sell the higher dollar
products? Revenue would grow.
At the same time, hire a few reps with
strong digital DNA to actively pursue
these opportunities. If they go on four-
legged calls together, don’t pay double
I recently had the pleasure of meet-
ing with one of the South Bend Tribune’s
largest clients, a regional appliance dealer.
The owner handled both print and digital.
Both reps were on the call along with
publisher Kim Wilson. For more than 90
minutes we talked about all things digital
and on the follow up appointment, the
proposal will be on the digital side. The
print rep is the one with the relationship
so I get why she was there but once she
facilitated the meeting with the digital rep,
couldn’t she be better using her time sell-
ing more revenue elsewhere? Perhaps an
introduction is a better way to handle the
hand off to the digital rep and then leave.
If you do the math on digital sales
and what it costs to hire someone that
understands it and can sell it, you will
quickly see how hard it is to be profitable.
Add double commissions (and the reduc-
tion in print/broadcast sales that happens
when the rep focuses too much on digital)
and you’re doomed.
My light bulb moment on this subject
came a few weeks ago when I was visiting
Deseret Digital and listening to Clark
Gilbert talk about transformation. He too
bought into the notion of an integrated
sales team. He paid double commissions
and changed the focus of the traditional
reps to sell more digital. His print and
broadcast sales went down and digital
grew for the first two years and then it
stopped. They showed no growth on the
digital side after that point. When he freed
them of digital, the traditional revenue
grew again. And digital experts sold more
on the digital side by a long shot.
Bob Brown, President & COO, Swift
Communications verified that the same
thing happened at their company. Two
years seems to be the magic number and
then it levels off. At Swift, they are now
experimenting at two of their properties
and completely separating print and
digital. Transformation starts at the top
and that is why I believe that Swift will be a
successful case study for our industry. The
entire leadership team is behind this new
Metro daily reps don’t like selling free
weeklies. It makes them uncomfortable.
They believe that their product is superior.
Newspaper reps don’t like selling digital
My favorite case study is Russmedia
Digital out of Austria. “Integrated sales
teams don’t work,” preaches Gerold
Riedmann, the CEO, “We don’t want them
to be friends. We want them to compete
against each other for every dime. They
don’t work in the same building and they
don’t report to the same managers.” Is it
any surprise that Russmedia is one of the
most progressive and innovative media
companies in Europe? And their percent-
age of revenue coming from digital is one
of the highest in the world? Incidentally,
they still do very well on the print side!
Before sending hate mail, just think
about the business model. Think about the
wisdom of telling sales reps to concentrate
on lower priced products, and about
paying double commissions on lower
dollar sales. We should be concentrating
on maximizing revenue across all areas
— traditional print or broadcast, digital,
events and any other new opportunities
that emerge. We need business models
that make sense. Not ones that handcuff
our growth and increase our expenses.
At Local Media Association, we are
intensely focused on helping local media
companies discover new and sustainable
LMA President Nancy Lane
@localmediarocks • Nancy.firstname.lastname@example.org
At Swift, they are experimenting at two of their properties
and completely separating print and digital.
A Flawed Business Model?
Integrated Sales Teams
CONTINUED FROM PAG E 1
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