3 initiatives that help Bay Area News Group tame the digital sales, revenue chaos

By Jason Cross

A digital account executive position today is a very exciting opportunity, but it can be overwhelming at times with all that is out there to sell. You must train and juggle the demands of a rapidly evolving digital environment along with the fact that our customers are much more sophisticated than ever before.

A few initiatives we are focused on at Bay Area News Group (BANG) are: 

  • Developing digital engineers.

  • Digital fulfillment.

  • Pipeline development. 

Developing digital engineers: At BANG, we are extremely focused on creating a culture of higher-level digital account executives, which we are dubbing “digital engineers.”

When our digital engineers meet with our customers, we want them to be able to strategically navigate the digital landscape based on the specific wants and needs of each individual customer. We also need our engineers to explain the difference between competitors in this space, and the benefits that we can provide.

We cannot sell everything in a box, as every business is different and requires specific plans to reach its goal. Our engineers will become valuable assets for these businesses —  people whom customers can ask questions of, learn from, and engage with.

Such experts also help to:

  • Create long-term, trusting relationships.

  • Show interest and ownership in each customer.

  • Reduce churn and increasing up-sell opportunities.

  • Give a clear directive to the fulfillment team (discussed more below).

Digital fulfillment: The second initiative we are working on is aligning our fulfillment and digital support teams with the digital engineers. Without these two pieces running harmoniously, the result will rarely come out as expected and we will not achieve that desired partnership with the client.

We are working to ensure that we have set up a clear campaign directive up front with each client, and that both parties know what the expected outcome is for the client’s investment. We now have built a digital campaign against a very specific expected outcome and feel confident it can be delivered.

This message is now shared with the digital support and fulfillment teams to assist in ensuring the campaign is performing as expected against these assumptions and, if not, adjustments are made to the campaign.

This strategy is taking place with larger digital campaigns, but does it take place for your small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs)? 

SMB digital spend is a key to the future growth in digital active and revenue growth, and the client needs this type of laser focus to give them confidence that digital does work and will continue to grow their business – the set-it-and-forget-it model will not work. 

Pipeline development: As we take a look at our internal digital revenue growth goals, we know that we have to ensure we have a digital team that is knowledgeable, focused, and excited about the pipeline development.

We are in the middle of setting directives for our digital teams as follows:

  • Setting a minimum number of acceptable pipelines prospects.

  • Creating criteria around how fast we are able to move through the sales funnel and requirements, detailing what bottlenecks we are experiencing with prospects and possible resolutions to those problems.

  • Measuring pipeline active up-sell opportunities vs. first-time activity.

  • Looking for our digital account executives to have pipelines that have four times the revenue opportunities of their current GAP (the difference between what they have booked and the goal they need to hit) to goal. In addition, we are looking for a 4x pipeline that is built based on revenue potential after a needs assessment and not just names on a list. 

To move the digital side of the business at the rate needed, it is vital to create a sales culture where pipeline development is trained, discussed, transparent, and put into action.

Our success depends on the human element as we work collaboratively on a common strategy to ultimately prove to our customers that BANG is a highly competent, forward-thinking digital team that cares about the success of every single client we engage with.

About Jason Cross

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