How to sell more to your most loyal advertisers

By Jerry Bellune

You’ve heard me preach this before.

The best way to increase sales revenue is to sell more to your most loyal advertisers.

Well. Jerry, you might say, that’s easier said than done.

A lot of publishers have asked me which is better: To have one sales team sell your print products and another sell online or make everyone sell both?

My first question is, how do you “make” your salespeople sell anything they don’t believe in?

It just doesn’t work.

My second question is, how old, experienced, creative and adaptable are your sales team members?

Older salespeople tend to resist change. Many are uncomfortable selling online products.

They may say they forget to mention it as they outline the benefits of their advertising packages. But I suspect many of them don’t accept the value of online ads and their ability to send visitors to the accounts’ websites and track the results. If they did, they would want to see their accounts take advantage of these benefits.

This mistake costs newspaper publishers millions of dollars every year in money left on the table.

Here are two solutions:

1. Education. First, teach everybody how to sell multiple media. That includes your long-term ROP agreements, special premium placement in your main products, your niche publications and special sections, your website and electronic coupon deals.

Stress that the quickest way to increase advertisers’ results is by showing them how to build great return on investment by using the multiple media you can provide.

Second, educate your advertisers in the value of advertising in multiple media. They need to know that different consumers respond differently to advertising messages. In simple terms, some consumers buy visually, some audibly and some want to feel and try-on the product and see services demonstrated. Some fear making poor buying decisions and are reassured by testimonials from satisfied consumers. Services can be demonstrated online and print. Products can be shown to them both ways. Testimonials can be in print and online in video and audio formats. It pays to appeal to your ideal customers the way they want to buy.

2. Planning. Our people should work with their advertisers on 12-month and 24-month programs. They should know the hot months for their products and services as well as the cool months.

They should help develop month-by-month advertising plans showing what portion of their 5 percent of gross should be devoted to advertising in any given month. This planning is critical in putting science into the accounts’ advertising plans.

They should then be able to develop advertising packages that include your print and online products. They should be able to show you, your ad sales team leader and/or your publisher the plan before they share it with the account. At that point, you can tweak it with them and determine if they are including all your media that will work for any specific advertiser’s products and services.

It has been my experience that the majority of newspaper advertising people do not know how to do this sophisticated kind of planning nor will they take the time to do it. You must teach it.

May takeaway thought: Need help teaching your salespeople more sophisticated approaches to selling? Contact me at © The Bellune Co. 2011

Jerry Bellune and his family own and operate book and newspaper publishing companies and a consulting and sales training company. For information on how he might help you, e-mail him at


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