Editorial: Do Your Sales Reps Stink?

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By: Jeff Fleming

Cross-media marketing continues to gain traction and with it comes the opportunity for newspapers to score additional ad dollars. But if your sales reps haven’t mastered your entire lineup of media offerings and are primarily promoting print, marketers are going to take a hike.

On the editorial side, most newspaper journalists have either embraced new technology with open arms or have been dragged kicking and screaming into the new millennium by their publishers. Those that have endured are moving forward, continually educating themselves on new technology and trends — and they have a hat rack full of new responsibilities to prove it. Unfortunately, many salespeople, the ones fueling the financials, have not fully made the transition of accepting and understanding new technologies and remain loyal to what they know best, ink and paper.

Newspaper sales reps are in an enviable position. They represent a trusted brand, they’re well connected, have loyal advertisers, and they can offer a very powerful cross-media combination of digital, social, and traditional technologies to generate ad sales. But sales reps and sales departments need to reposition themselves, they can no longer just focus on selling print and/or digital; they need to sell their knowledge and leadership — and make service part of their sales commitment. Clients don’t need an order taker, they need business development and someone to help them strategize, reach goals, and get results. With the slow economy and impact of technology, proprietors have fewer employees and less time to conduct business — they need newspaper sales reps to become their partner and help maximize their ROI.

If your sales reps are mainly selling column inches and pixels, don’t expect much in the way of new revenue streams. Successful sales reps are the ones who understand the advantages of integrating paper-based marketing with digital and online tactics such as video, social media, email, apps, digital editions, newsletters, QR codes, SMS, and PURLs. And, successful sales departments are those that provide access to online analytics, statistics, and continually educate reps on how to utilize the numbers to benefit advertisers. This means complete understanding of page views, pages per visit, bounce rate, time on site, click-through rates, and registered users. It also means researching successful case studies of cross-media marketing campaigns for ideas on how to implement similar programs for their customers.

Technology forced our comfort zones to retire several years ago — they’re somewhere in the tropics relaxing on a deserted beach, without us. We now live in the age of constant change and chronic disruption, and where technology goes, we’d better be close behind.

One thought on “Editorial: Do Your Sales Reps Stink?

  • August 24, 2012 at 11:27 pm

    Print sales reps are not lagging behind the times. I have trained over 5000 of them for newspapers and they know all about their online products but they are not going to sell them at the cost of lower commissions. They have to feed their families like everyone else. Most sales reps are on a Percent of Revenue as commission. It takes just as much time and effort to sell a $5000 print package as it does a $500 online package. There is 40 hours in the work week, where would you spend your time?


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