5 Essentials for success in media sales

Whether your media revenues rely on selling ad space, airtime, stands or sponsorship, for print, broadcast, events or digital media properties, you need to have a well-equipped media sales team.  Before you get into the HR issues of recruitment, training, development, time-management, incentives or performance management, what are the essential tools you as the media owner can provide to your media sales team that will help them generate the maximum revenue for you?  Here are my top 5 from my own experience managing successful media sales teams in print, events and digital.  Be tough on yourself – until you can award yourself top marks on all five don’t blame the sales team if you are underperforming!

1. Clear and distinct proposition

Who is your audience?  Why are they attractive to your advertisers? What does the media proposition do for them? Why are they engaged?  How can the media proposition help advertisers achieve their marketing and business objectives? Why are you unique, and exactly how are you differentiated from the competition? You need to be clear on all these questions and equip your media sales team with snappy answers.  If your media business serves up a compelling and unique proposition that engages a highly attractive audience and offers opportunities for advertisers to grow their business then all your media sales team will have to do is put it in front of them and take the orders!  If they can’t explain why your media proposition is different from the competition they will have an uphill struggle no matter how good their sales skills…

2. Flexible ratecard and negotiating limits

Make sure you have a wide range of “stuff” for your media sales team to use to create bespoke packages for your advertisers that will help deliver their objectives.  This could include sponsorships, airtime, advertorials, competitions, listings, display, list rental, e-newsletters, events and more.  Be clear about how each item is priced, and what room for negotiation or package creation the media sales team have at their disposal.

3. High quality sales materials

Clients need time to reflect on the proposition, and work out whether to meet and whether to give you their hard-earned marketing budget.  Emails, PDFS, websites, leave-behinds, presentations, all need to be carefully crafted to sell when you’re not there.  Success is more about showing clear benefits, providing case studies and testimonials and making it easy to price up a marketing package, than it is about flashy design or expensive production values.  Give your media sales team the ammunition to get the orders.

4. Excellent sales database plus “hot leads” system

A high quality database will help your media sales team target their efforts, and manage their personal contacts.  Encouraging editorial, marketing and general management to pass on “hot leads” pays huge dividends (see #5 below).

5. Support from entire team

Ad revenue is not simply the responsibility of the media sales team.  Editors, marketeers and publishers not only have access to great leads, they are often the best sales people as they are great at explaining the media proposition and the audience in detail.  If the whole team are engaged in helping the media sales team succeed, that is when a media property really starts to fly!

I’m interested in your experiences of what makes for success in media sales – do comment here or join the Specialist Media Network on Linked-in to swap ideas and tips with other media owners.

Carolyn Morgan’s consultancy, Penmaen Media, creates practical digital media and marketing strategies, and has particular expertise with media businesses.  If you’d like to give your media sales team a real boost for the new year, please contact us to discuss how we can help.