Ad Sales Life

Know your sales department's health & fitness


Take care of your elephant. I’ve been saying this a lot lately. It’s my weird analogy for communicating the importance of simultaneously concentrating on the details and the overall health, growth and direction of your business objectives.

For reference, it’s important to note that an elephant has an extremely slim chance of survival in the wild without its trunk. An elephant needs to consume hundreds of pounds of food each day, but this becomes nearly impossible if its trunk is injured or paralyzed. Inversely, suppose you don’t take a step back and monitor the elephant’s overall health, (weight, hooves, tusks, eyes). You may not correlate the elephant’s malnutrition to its inability to feed itself because of its trunk. Similarly, as a sales leader, it’s vital that you simplify, understand and monitor the core metrics to illustrate the relationship between your specific strategies and initiatives to your department’s overall performance, goal attainment and financial health — the trunk and the elephant.

As a sales leader, an important skill to develop is the ability to take complex logistics, behaviors and reporting and make them simple to predict and project the overall health of your organization. This proficiency typically starts with financial reporting as it tells the quickest and most direct story parallel to goal attainment and history. In addition, uncover any other initiative, dimension or activity-based reporting that eventually drives bottom-line revenue or impacts financial reporting to deduct supplementary connections.

The goal is to summarize these reports, focus on the driving business indicators and harmonize the data over periods of time. The ultimate goal is to quickly draw accurate conclusions regarding your current initiatives’ immediate and long-term effects and any strategies you need to implement that will affect the future. Synchronize and simplify daily, weekly and monthly reporting volumes and condense them into a few weekly measurable key performance indicators that may act as more precise gauges of sales, revenue and overall financial health.

Please note that this is different from weekly financial statements or projection requests. For application, begin to identify available tangible metrics and make comparisons over time. For example, what is your total average ad sellers’ sales volume per week, month and quarter? Does this correlate to your average ad size or average ad price? What is your departmental total in average weekly sales? What is your average running retention rate of advertisers, and how has that retention percentage increased or decreased over time? Next, illustrate some of these data points in a line graph and lay the measurables over each other. Has your weekly departmental total in average sales decreased while your average ad size increased? Has your average ad seller output increased, but your running advertiser retention rate decreased? Your elephant may “look” healthy today, but are the indicators suggesting that your next quarter or two may not be as promising?

If so, this type of analytics should help guide your decision-making and comprehension of details on your initiatives — the trunk. If your elephant seems to be thinning out, this type of structured reporting should help you understand that it is not getting enough food. That said, what specific metrics will you hold your sales managers accountable to address any current or potential declines? How will you measure that success? The great news is that once you have this type of reporting, you can balance your focus seamlessly and counteract potential performance valleys more efficiently.

I have always felt that sophistication is in making the complicated simple. Monitoring and projecting the overall health of your department is essential in an ever-evolving data-oriented sales environment. Stay consistent, be proactive and supervise your details and departmental goals concurrently. Your elephant will thank you for it!

Richard E. Brown is a News Media Alliance Rising Star recipient, the former director of renewals and digital sales strategy at LPi and the former director of digital operations and sales of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He currently serves as head of digital subscriber churn for Gannett | USA TODAY NETWORK.


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