The case for local traditional media companies to transform their sales organizations is pretty clear. For years, BIA/Kelsey has been tracking the secular shift from traditional to digital spend through both its Local Media Forecast and Local Commerce Monitor™. The path to genuine transformation is more challenging, fraught with cultural roadblocks, resource constraints and execution challenge piled upon execution challenge.
There are no clear winners yet among traditional sellers making the digital shift. However, best practices are emerging around recruitment and training, incentives, technology and data, and sales methodology. We’ve been out there talking to sellers to unearth these best practices.
This morning, my BIA/Kelsey colleague Jed Williams and I offered the Why and the How of sales transformation to cap of the “Key Executives Mega-Conference” here in Las Vegas. The show is a joint effort of Inland Press and the Local Media Association attended largely by senior newspaper executives.
Williams made the “Why” case with data. For example, BIA/Kelsey has been observing a long-running shift among all local advertisers and newspaper advertisers in particular from spend on traditional advertising to presence and platform services. Increasingly, what local SMBs want to buy is outside the comfort zone of many traditional sellers.
To illustrate the “How” I summarized the key characteristics of successful digital sellers, based on interviews conducted in recent weeks with both traditional sellers getting traditional in digital sales and pure plays that exemplify how to sell digital only products to SMBs, usually through an exclusively inside sales channel.
We boiled it down to five common success traits. There are others for sure, but these five were pretty consistent among the progressive digital sellers we’ve been interviewing.
Leadership Commits — Beyond Lip Service. This notion is widely acknowledged, but perhaps not widely understood. True commitment takes many forms, including investing personal energy in acquiring expert level knowledge; investing in people and technology; and making tough decisions, about products and people.
They Don’t Let Underperformers Stick Around. Committed digital sellers do not allow legacy reps to default to their comfort zone. The insist that they adapt or leave. Having a systematic process for identifying and “transitioning” underperformers is a critical success factor.
They Gather Data — And Listen to What it Tells Them. Data-driven sales is one of the meta-trends in sales transformation. Extensive data and sophisticated analytics can help sales organizations become vastly more efficient and quickly move past people, products and processes that just aren’t working.
They Use Robust Tools. Local digital sellers almost universally arm their local sellers with robust technology, for CRM, sales prep, and building custom presentations on the fly. A transformed sale organization.
The Measure What Matters. Successful sellers understand the KPIs that drive results, and they manage against these. Measuring the behavior that drives results can be more effective than measuring the results themselves.
BIA/Kelsey will summarize its latest findings around sales best practices in an upcoming report.