Sales Staff Incentives

Online sales people need to be more persevering than traditional media AEs because of the extreme peaks and valleys of the business.

Compensation is one way to help them through the valleys and boost their performance even higher during the peaks.

Management should consider two critical questions about a new hire. Is the AE experienced with online sales or not? Will the AE fill a strong existing desk of business, a weak one or a new one? The answers help determine the structure of the compensation for the early months on the job.

A new AE who has to develop a desk of business from scratch needs some kind of financial guarantee to stick with the job during the early months of development. The techniques include salary only, salary with bonus, salary with commission or draw against commission (guaranteed payout, sometimes even if the goals aren?t met).

Most AEs without previous online sales experience seem to need at least six months getting comfortable with client questions and objections. Experienced AEs of course need less.

Managers often believe that salary only is a poor option for any sales person, even when they are given months to settle into a new job. So an introductory phase of high salary and low commission, or salary and commission with draw, are options to consider for inexperienced AEs with weak or new desks. Salary with bonus or salary with commission are good choices for the experienced AE.

Once the desk is running well, other options include straight commission or commission with bonus. These options seem to work best with salespeople who are highly motivated, risk tolerant and willing to work extra hours. But these kinds of salespeople are rare.

Guide to Vendors Specializing in Turnkey Solutions

This guide covers vendors who specialize in providing turnkey solutions for online newspapers — products and services that cover a full array of functions such as content management, advertising delivery and other solutions in one complete package.

Media Span: A full range of integrated print, broadcast and online products.

TownNews: Vendor claims more than 300 newspaper customers ranging in circulation from 900 to 300,000.

First Day Story: specializing in turnkey solutions for community newspapers.

Matchbin: also specializing in turnkey solutions for community newspapers, radio stations, TV stations and clients in other industries.

Dynaportal: More than 40 applications including content management and advertising delivery.

Clickability: Claims more than 400 Web publishers as customers for its on-demand Web publishing products.

Harvest Info: This vendor focuses on providing a full suite of advertising products.

Print2Web: Another well-known industry vendor that focuses on providing a full suite of advertising products.

Kaango: Provides a comprehensive classified platform including transactional capability.

Please use the Contact form through the link on the left to submit other recommended vendors.

Developing Productive Staffs Takes Critical Thinking

Media sales staffs are used to dealing with numbers that track their productivity, such as budgets, pipelines and close ratios. Journalists tend to abhor the idea.

Tracking the productivity of online journalists in a complex, well-managed environment is unavoidable. It?s by tracking the number of articles they manage and the page views they generate that managers can determine if they should hire more staff.

Imagine a site with a content staff of 10 that generates 10 million page views a month or a million PVs per staffer. Let?s assume about 1,000 stories a week ? mostly from the print side but some purely online ? automatically flow onto the site, with the biggest spike on Sundays. Among many duties, the staff produces original content, develops slide shows and is responsible for making sure all stories get on the site, flow into the proper sections, receive additional packaging, etc.

A new annual budget comes along with a 25 percent increase in revenue. Can ad rates go up 25 percent? Unlikely in this environment, but a rate increase can solve part of it. Can 25 percent more ad positions be created? Unlikely again, for most sites already have fleshed out their ad space. Other ideas are possible, but the obvious one is a major boost in page views, which will increase ad inventory at the same rate.

Let?s settle on a 20 percent increase in page views. You probably can?t make your content staff work 20 percent harder or put in six days a week. If you are convinced that they are fully productive, then the rational choice is a 20 percent increase in staff or two more full-time people in order to achieve the new PV target.

Those two new hires won?t join the others in checking the story flow. They must be focused on creating new content, sections and applications that will be major factors in boosting the site that extra 20 percent.

Tracking content staff productivity and developing well-defined job descriptions linked to those goals will go far in building a balanced and fairly managed online operation.

Continuous News Takes Continuous Practice

Managing staff that has covered mass murders, hurricanes, major riots and other major news events is educational about what it means to do continuous online news.

When a story that big breaks, sites immediately get pounded with traffic. People have heard only headlines about the story on TV and radio. They want details, as many as they can get, and they want them immediately.

TV station sites tend to be faster with updates but lighter on details. Newspapers are slower with updates but heavier on details. Both of these responses are typical for their respective cultures and approaches to content management. Continue reading “Continuous News Takes Continuous Practice”

Online-Only AEs Deliver Results

Newspaper Web sites that have at least one account executive dedicated to online sales have 87 percent higher online revenue than papers that rely solely on print AEs to sell online ads, according to the Newspaper Association of America.

In addition, 59 percent of the total revenue came from online-only ads, the NAA says. The association?s data comes from a recent Borrell Associates study.

While it is true that sites with dedicated online AEs deliver more revenue over time, it is worth noting that it doesn’t come easily for smaller newspaper Web sites — or any small site that can’t afford to hire a dedicated sales rep. Continue reading “Online-Only AEs Deliver Results”

Online Product Vendors a Mixed Blessing

Some online operations build everything from scratch, others buy most of what they need from vendors and naturally quite a few strike a balance between the two.

I have worked in operations with both extremes. They have left me convinced that striking a balance is the best way to go. Continue reading “Online Product Vendors a Mixed Blessing”