Incentives That Work
Sales strategies and techniques have not stood still in today's rapidly changing and economically challenged publishing environment. The recession has left most publishers battered by a period of dry, if not barren ad sales, and left most salespeople not only falling short on targets and commissions, but also running low on spirit. At the same time, as many question how much print-ad revenue will return, the industry is seeing a greater emphasis on digital revenue and integrated platforms, as well as a push toward more creative, multifaceted, data-driven and customer-service oriented ad sales.
Salespeople today are charged with working harder for every sale, as well as helping clients understand and appreciate the new options available for reaching an audience. As the skills needed to sell effectively have changed, so have the skills and priorities required of those who oversee sales divisions and set goals.
Publishing Executive interviewed several executives about their strategies for incentivizing sales staff to boost sales in a down economy—or anytime sales could use an extra push.
senior vice president, ALM
ALM, which publishes news and information primarily in the legal and commercial real estate sectors, recently revamped its sales process to focus less on general prospecting and more on building relationships with core clients. Along with this has come a new emphasis on selling across geographic and product boundaries.
1. Consolidate sales teams.
Until recently, ALM maintained separate teams for national publications, related Web sites, and conferences and events. While sales structures for regional teams have not changed, national sales teams are now responsible for selling all products the company offers to a more targeted clientele.
2. Allow sales staff to focus on core accounts.
Salespeople are given a list of companies either presently advertising with ALM or who are considered especially hot prospects. "The thinking behind that is we have a lot of products to sell to help people reach the legal profession. … This way it gives [the salespeople] more time to spend with … our [core] clients—those clients who spend more money with us—and really help them get more involved in their marketing of their products to the legal profession."