Wanted: Sales people empowered by management to sell


Legacy media companies today are quickly learning that legacy alone doesn’t equate to success in a crowded, evolving landscape. While some have existed for decades, maybe even a century, they are now forced to re-examine their core philosophies.

It’s more important than ever to try new and different things. Experimentation is necessary, and that can sometimes result in failure. Still, media organisations looking to maintain or grow revenue need to experiment.

And like I always say, it is okay to fail, just fail fast. And move on.

Having run large sales organisations throughout my career, one thing that has become clear to me is we need to give our best sales people more time to sell. If I was running a media company, I would prioritise the sales organisation and provide anything and everything they need to help make the sale.

You no longer sell the same products you used to, so why have you not upgraded your sales model?

Think about it: There is almost nothing more important to a media company right now than the strategic and tactical ways its sales team generates revenue. But most companies are handcuffing their team without even realising it.

One place to start is by trimming some fat. If there are 1,000 people in a sales organisation, the odds are that only about 250 of them are very good. The 21st-century media organisation needs to take these top 250 sellers, or 25% of the sales force, and elevate them, allowing them to sell every product to any kind of potential advertising partner.

It’s much better to trim the other 800 down to 600 or 400, building a support team of junior sellers.

I have seen too many companies too many times try to solve revenue problems by just adding sales people. The time it takes to ramp up a new person in a new position puts you behind your revenue targets. Instead, clearing the path for your best sellers to succeed seems like the better formula.

In this model, the top 250 are focused purely on new business. And, rather than letting a top seller spin his or her wheels in a geographic territory, media companies need to smash the idea of regions and focus on verticals.

Find the best sales people and give them more time to make sales by operating in verticals as opposed to horizontals. Rather than sell several businesses in a region, a good sales person can now focus on every restaurant in the market if they know there’s an opportunity there.

The growth of online media has democratised everything. A small business in Orlando can now advertise to a New York traveller who is using Yelp to plan his or her vacation. Historical territories are just that – history – and sales people will waste their time trying to squeeze dollars out of second-tier clients when they could set their sights on bigger business.

So now we’ve turned the top 25% of the sales force into a team focussed purely on new businesses, and they’re no longer confined to a region, but to a vertical in which they have expertise. The final component is to give even more training.

Organisations looking to grow revenue with new offerings and products need experts who can go into the market to teach potential clients and partners.

These can be either the top 25% sellers, or they could very well be support staff. Regardless, no media entity can miss an opportunity by sending an untrained sales person that can’t speak to the client’s market needs.

Sales is an evolving trade, one with a skill set that changes annually. Media companies need to adapt with the times, and the easiest way is to shatter some of the restrictions around the sales force.

Find the best sales people in your organisation, empower them, and give them more time to make the best sales. Don’t simply hire people to fill a seat – hire the team that is going to meet the market’s needs and help your organisation grow. Quality, not quantity.

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