Success Breeds Success
By Tanya Henderson, Advertising & Membership Relations Director, SNA
High Expectations. Maximum Effort. Well Compensated Sales Reps. Plus Revenue.
Does this resemble your company?
I had the pleasure of attending (and speaking) at the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association’s Annual Convention in Lancaster, Pennsylvania last week. In one of the opening sessions, Martin Till, Executive Vice President of Penn Jersey Advance spoke in no-nonsense terms about hiring the right people. Till opened his presentation recalling his own start in the industry. The job he was applying for required that he type a specific number of words per minute. As the story was told, after a couple tries he never could type that many words, but he showed his potential employer that perseverance, attitude and a wantingness to win outweighs a learned skill. Unfortunately many newspapers still follow the same old practices when hiring sales people today - which means, you may be overlooking talent. He says “attitude is everything,” and “success breeds success.” Skills are secondary and something that can be taught.
His company is always expected to be ahead of revenue and they budget that way – and they are up by 7% this year. And they pay for it. An average rep can make $85-$95k a year; top reps can make $120k and Till has paid more. And don’t think this means a high salary – it’s not – smaller salary and higher commission opportunity. According to Till, if a manager can bring in $1 million in revenue – isn’t it worth it to pay them $200,000?
Till thinks we spend too much time looking at the wrong things. We look at our costs and we don’t spend enough time focusing on productivity. Turnover and unfilled territories can have a huge effect on the bottom line. By anticipating turnover, they’ve hired “floaters” who assist in a number of areas and aspire to a territory role. When a territory is available, they are moved into the slot. Till mentions that if they come across great sales people in the process, they’re hired even if they aren’t in the budget. Their organization interviews on a number of desired traits. Applicants are turned away if they don’t possess those core traits. Another area of consideration – special sections. When you have reps selling more than 100 sections a year it’s going to be a time killer. Till has cut those sections down so reps are selling more quality sections with more page count rather than sections that aren’t profitable or “special” to the customer or the reader.
How are you attracting quality sales reps in today’s economic climate? Please comment on this article.