Created new business development group focusing only on non-customers. Once businesses are sold, they are handed off to another group. They work as a “hit squad” for new projects.
After doing some research, they found that 15% of the community uses them, but 85% do not, leaving a huge pot of potential and justifying the need for a new specialized group.
They hire by personality profile – if you don’t pass, you don’t get the interview. If you do pass, you are given a sales aptitude test. In all, it’s a four-interview process. Media experience is not required.
They are a team of hard core hires – risk takers/networkers/not afraid of failure/forgiveness seekers.
They are given a six month guarantee – straight commission based on percent of monthly billed, no cap.
In six months they will have covered the cost of the group.
Lessons learned: at first there was some confusion by the team on what was considered an active account. You have to be flexible and have the ability to retool.
The new group comes up with five new products per month. They are “waking the giant” – legacy reps are paying attention.
From Jodi Bell, VP of Sales, Morris Newspapers’ Augusta Chronicle:
Jodi Bell, VP of Sales at Morris Newspapers’ Augusta Chronicle, presenting at the SNA/The Blinder Group Revenue Leadership Summit.
22% of total ad revenue is digital.
They have three groups: multimedia team (17 retail/nine classified); online only reps (two) that work with multimedia team; and digital only team (five).
Positions include deals assistant, innovation manager, videographer – looking at hiring social media/mobile expert. Note that they were able to get into the deals market before Groupon or Living Social. They do $45,000 a month in deals.
They have changed their culture through goals/compensation, re-engineering rewards and recognition, and expanding product offerings.
Recognition includes: Digital Media Money Tree, 100% Club (those that make goal), Circle of Excellence – lunch with publisher, and Sales Person of the Year.
Training includes quarterly sales event which replaces blitzes. They are scheduled and ongoing and become part of the culture – keeps the pipeline filled. Hot sheet monthly is focused on different ways to bundle a package. They have quarterly strategic planning sessions.
From Robert Granfeldt, VP Digital Media, Southern Community Newspapers:
When he came to the newspapers, majority of papers on site were on sponsorship – less than $2 CPM, small audiences, not great sites.
They hired a business developer making 6 or 7 calls a day teaching staff.
He suggests delivering monthly packages over a few days for maximum lift.