4 Steps to Reinvigorate Sales & Radically Transform the Publishing Business
Steady decline in readership and advertising revenue are the current operating environment for local and specialty publishing. According to News Media Alliance and Pew Research Center, advertising revenue for publicly traded publishers declined roughly 30% from 2013 to 2017. That represents billions of dollars in lost revenue.
Apple News launched during this same period, promising to right publishers’ floundering sales. Not only did the tech giant fall short on its promise to increase revenue for publishers, Apple News is now seeking up to 50% of the take on all subscription revenue. It’s easy to see publishers’ desperation.
Contrary to industry trends, publishers with well-defined audiences can become growing companies with quality content. The challenge most publishers are facing is creating noteworthy content and sought-after products in the face of declining ad revenue. Many are, unfortunately, trying to survive by focusing on cutting content expenses; that’s not a solution. Transformation and growth require a different pattern of behavior.
Radical sales transformation is the answer to growing revenue and profits as well as retaining the identity and integrity of editorial. The strategic investment required to transform legacy publishers includes, and goes beyond, a financial investment. It starts with radical sales transformation and includes adding innovative ad and marketing products and guides to key service providers designed specifically for their audiences. Both writers and salespeople must navigate the pains of change that comes with the implementation of a successful strategy.
To get started, publishers can take these four steps to spark a digital sales transformation and drive revenue growth:
1. Rethink Leadership & Culture
The change many publishers need is an all-encompassing one and includes leadership. The business leadership team must have both the expertise and commitment to drive sales transformation and a growth culture. Without both elements that change will never come.
Publishers should hire proven leaders to attract and train emerging leaders in digital product, marketing, and sales. A new generation of great collaborators, team players, dedicated problem solvers, and learners is needed to create the aspirational culture missing from many legacy companies whose individual contributors have experienced only negative trends. Great leaders build strong cultures, which in turn attract amazing talent and enable continued innovation and growth. Steve Jobs built Apple. Apple did not build Steve Jobs. Talented people build innovative lasting companies.
2. Invest in Tech
Optimizing new revenue channels is a goal that requires constant innovation and product testing. Publishers need to listen and analyze audience needs and leverage both advertising and marketing solutions. Success requires the feedback loop that results from strong integration of technology, marketing, and sales execution. At the heart of that loop is Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and a data-driven sales and marketing infrastructure to support a high performing insight and activity-based sales teams.
3. Drive Awareness and Leads
Many publishers’ sales processes still rely on outside salespeople with limited or no CRM or lead generation marketing integration. Yesterday’s best salespeople relied on renewals of contracts; today’s sales organization is all about building new revenue channels and growing the roster of new clients. Valuable products will auto-renew with nominal sales support. Successful marketing is about new products and getting in the buyer’s path and lead generation that enables sales teams to grow their businesses.
Developing campaigns that produce quality leads and managing them through to close is the best practice to optimize revenue and profits. Successful publishers are using KPI metrics to improve digital marketing tactics that generate awareness for new products, aligning the goals of sales and marketing teams, measuring performance and making data-driven decisions that improve sales metrics.
4. Transition to an Inside Sales Model
Optimization requires a plan to migrate the sales organization to an inside sales model. The commitment to changing the way an organization sells requires both intellectual prowess, hard capital, difficult personnel changes, and time.
Managing an activity-driven inside team to a well-defined set of KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) enables the most efficient management of the client conversion process and optimizes revenue and value.
To manage such a team successfully, publishers should focus on average rep productivity using standardized milestone timing and conversion KPI’s:
- Qualifying First Call
- Demo Presentation
- Scope of Work (SOW) Presentation
- Proposal Presentation
- Close Percentage
- Cash Management (it is not a sale if you don’t get paid)
- Length of Sales Cycle
As publishers recognize the benefits of reversing industry trends and growing revenue by completing their internal transformation, they can stop worrying about where their money is coming from and focus again on creating and promoting great content.
Related story: 8 Ways to Increase Digital Ad Revenue by 50% or More
David has earned recognition as an author, speaker, serial entrepreneur, and advisor to CEOs. In addition to writing and speaking about achievement and entrepreneurial thinking, David is the Executive Chairman of JumpCrew, a rapid growth company that integrates marketing, lead generation and sales execution and on the Board of Staff Management Services.