Sales Model Redo in Chicago

Chris Edwards, VP of Sales at Cedar Rapids Gazette/TV-9, presenting at the SNA/The Blinder Group Revenue Leadership Summit.
Chris Edwards, VP of Sales at Cedar Rapids Gazette/TV-9, presenting at the SNA/The Blinder Group Revenue Leadership Summit.
  • 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.