Home' Local Media Today : October 2011 Contents 14 | suburban publisHer | october 2011
BY NANCY LANE, SNA PRESIDENt
Courage; guts; willingness to blow up
the old model – these are the prerequisites
for creating the world class sales force of
In the opening session of the SNA Fall
Conference, two case studies from the
Arizona Republic and Deseret Digital
exposed attendees to different approaches
that are yielding similar results. Both
operations have developed strategies that
will forever change the sales structure and
culture at their companies. And, both are
experiencing revenue growth – especially
on the digital side – as a result of these
Presented by Chris Stegman,
Director of Retail Advertising
World class meant increasing revenue
from major accounts
Hiring process changed to align com-
petencies with positions.
Account identification: align accounts
based on opportunities
Established spending levels for each
group - $150,000 + per year was the
main target account. For assignment
to an outside rep out, the account must
spend $12,000+ per year; otherwise, it
goes to telesales.
Created three teams of reps: large local,
territory and telesales. Post-realignment,
they have 12 large local reps versus 6
in the prior structure; 22 territory reps
versus 32 prior.
They have a 1:1 ratio for large account
reps to sales support.
Revamped compensation plan elimi-
nated all spiffs – now it is strictly based
on incentive plan and meeting goals.
Training dept. was enhanced and a f/t
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Creating a world class sales force
digital trainer was hired. (They’re now
using Miller Heiman strategic selling as
part of their training process.)
Sales meetings are productive- only
include coaching and success stories.
Everything else is communicated via
Accountability is foremost – reps must
make 10 new business calls per week
and the manager is required to go on
a certain percentage of these.
Goals are prepared far in advance – i.e.,
Q4 goals were distributed in August.
They doubled the size of the “CSG” team
(customer service group).
Timeline: Feb – Apr 2010: conducted in-
market interviews with both customers
and staff; Apr – May: strategic planning;
May: account identification; May – June:
staff alignment (lots of turnover as a
result); June – July: execution and plan-
ning; July 19: rolled out to staff; Aug 1:
account transfers/position transfers;
Sept: Compensation plan roll out.
Results: For the last six months of 2010:
territory reps were up .4% (compared
to down 9.1% before the restructure).
They were up 24% on the digital side
compared to 15% beforehand. Large
local reps were up 8% compared to 2%
before the restructure and up 20% on the
digital side compared to 3% beforehand.
For 2011, both groups are up (3.2% for
territory reps and 5.1% for large local
with digital growth up 14% for territory
reps and 21% for large local).
Digital sales execs are very well paid
(six figures is the target). Territory
reps handle 30-50 accounts/month.
Territories are expected to produce at
Presented by Mike Petroff, Executive
Vice President, Chief Operating
Stunning growth: digital growth in 2010
was 74% and it will be 50% in 2011.
Telesales department has been a huge
win. They’ve hired 12-16 p/t reps to
work 30 hours/week at $13/hour, no
benefits. This month alone this group
will produce $200,000 in new digital
revenue. They are planning to expand
this department to 24.
The integrated sales staff (a.k.a., tra-
ditional reps) is having great success
thanks to the hiring of an integrated
sales manager who works day in and
day out with the team on training, goals
and four-legged calls. It has worked
so well that they are hiring two more
(current ratio is 22:1; new hires will get
this closer to 7:1).
Established completely separate digital
division (separate management, build-
ing, P&L, etc.) The digital direct reps
were not having as much success as
planned so they just changed them to
Email marketing team sells sponsored
emails – very successful.
Usually hire from outside the indus-
try and look for strong digital back-
Recently produced a series of marketing
summits - charged $49 per attendee and
featured a motivational marketing guru.
The $49 fee was applicable toward a
listing in the new directory product.
Daily deals are going to the next level.
They feature favorite deals on the left rail
and this is proving to be very popular. New
launch is a category-based deals mall.
A new aggregated search feature will
show results in several different ways:
used items for sales; new items for sale;
deals in this area and more.
Launching a digital agency that will
provide SEO, SEM, keyword buys, CPC
on Facebook/google, display, social,
directory, etc. Currently searching for
a director for this agency.
Have instituted an innovation process:
any employee can fill out an idea resume
that goes to 3 judges.
Just announced the creation of D3 – a
digital disruption day with a 2-day score-
card. This two day/one night event is
described as an “innovation marathon”.
Gives voice to everyone in the organiza-
tion. A senior team will judge the top 5
ideas; 1st prize is $1,000.
What’s working: 1. Establishment of
separate digital division; 2. Hiring a
world class new media team; 3. Creation
of strong sales channels; 4. Mapping out
of initiatives for the next 12 months; 5.
Encouraging innovation by providing
Both companies understood the need
for digital expertise on their teams and
both expanded in this area (Deseret more
so than Arizona Republic); tied incentives
to digital growth; and made a commitment
to telesales (both increased their staffing
in this area).
One thing was clear: the old model will
no longer work. As companies change
their product offerings, so too must they
change their sales structure, expectations,
skill sets and compensation.
Republic Media’s Chris Stegman, left, and
Arizona Daily Star President & Publisher
Mike Petroff, left, of Deseret Digital Media
and Matt Walsh, CEO & Editor of The
Observer Group (FL)
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