Loss of a salesperson can have a severe impact on your paper

By Bob Berting

Many publishers who have large chains, massive coverage or are the only dominant force in their market, sometimes have a false sense of security. Attending trade conventions, where a high profile image is projected, doesn’t change what’s going on back home. Down deep, there is still the knowledge that no significant progress is being made to get the big increases needed to fulfill goal-setting projections made, and to make matters worse, some of their salespeople are unhappy and are in a comfortable day-to-day rut with an order taker image.

What can be done to develop the sales team and avoid losing sale team members? Let’s look at some guidelines that will give an immediate attack plan:

Free the sales manager to focus on the salespeople to give them training in all areas of the selling process. Most sales managers I have observed are so busy with their own account list and administrative detail that they find out about customer/salespeople problems too late. In a recent advertising-salesperson survey, lack of communication between the sales manager and the salespeople turned out to be the greatest source of dissatisfaction. For example, it is absolutely critical that a weekly sales meeting be held, and in my opinion, it should be Friday afternoon, where the following benefits can be achieved:

a. You can review the immediate past week while it is fresh in everyone’s mind. This is the time to have salespeople discuss problems they are having with hard-to-please customers. Many salespeople leave because the problems they are having with customers are never resolved.

b. You can plan the next week and let everyone think about it over the weekend and start their own creative planning process.

Intra-department harmony. Company friction can be a problem. When making sales calls with salespeople, I am surprised at their lack of communication with other departments at the publication. To help correct this situation, invite other departments to sales meetings from time to time and discuss communication problems openly.

Competition with other competitive media salespeople. It’s one thing to lose an account to a competitor when your salespeople see themselves as professionals—but down deep know they lack the training to compete, and eventually will lose interest and enthusiasm for their job. Every publication salesperson should know the detailed advantages and disadvantages of all competitive media and be able to tactfully discuss these points with their customers in the context of a media mix analysis.

Salespeople have to be good managers of time. Many salespeople are frustrated by the lack of time to accomplish their sales goals. They often spend too much time exchanging social pleasantries with their customers and talking excessively about non-business matters. It’s good to build rapport and establish common ground, but it can be overdone and consequently customers may lose respect and confidence in their overly talkative salespeople.

Finally, are the salespeople really enjoying their workplace? An NBA coach once said, “if you can’t have fun and really enjoy your work, then it’s time to sit down with the coach and find out why.” The coach is the publisher or the sales manager, and many times, having a sense of humor can help the training process. Leadership can also be defined in the following phrase, “You can’t push a string, you have to pull it.” © Bob Berting 2011

Bob Berting is a professional speaker, newspaper sales trainer, e-book author, and publishing marketing consultant. His sales record in the newspaper business is impressive. For 15 years, he averaged two cold contracts a week, sold 20 shopping centers on yearly contacts, which tripled the publication’s sales volume, and rarely sold a contract that was less than 52 weeks or 1,000 inches during a year. He has conducted more than 1,500 seminars for newspaper staffs, their customers, and state press associations. He conducts tele-seminars with topics that are customized for the newspaper industry. Ask for testimonials from happy tele-seminar customers. Bob’s website is www.bobberting.com. He can be reached at 800-536-5408 or bob@bobberting.com.


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