Center Scratchings: Sales & Revenue Bootcamp

By JOE AMDITIS

One of the biggest challenges facing independent publishers and community journalists is how to pay the bills. In the age of the Internet, with advertising revenue in free fall, is it still possible to make money in the news business?

If you ask Eleanor Cippel, former Managing Director of Sales at Scripps, and Annette Batson of Baristanet, the answer is a resounding, "Yes." But the game isn't the same as it was during the heyday of print advertising. The amount of available advertising space has gone up exponentially, causing the value of each individual space to plummet. And many local shops, restaurants, theaters, and other small businesses are still wary of online advertising or are having trouble letting go of the past.

Moreover, most local online publishers are lifelong reporters, but are now forced to wear multiple hats as they take on the role of editor, publisher, and ad sales rep. Their lack of sales experience often causes them to miss opportunities and scare off potential advertisers before they even get in the door.

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With this in mind, we asked Cippel, Batson, and business coach Joe Michaud to lead a Sales Academy at the Center for Cooperative Media for local NJ publishers to hone their sales skills. Of the many sales tips and lessons we learned throughout the two-day session, one theme in particular seemed to emerge: Learn to see yourself and assess your value from the perspective of the potential advertiser. Eleanor says this is part of what she calls the "Intentional Sales Process."

The Intentional Sales Process was designed to help sales reps differeniate themselves from other sellers, make better sales calls, become more efficient, close deals faster, and retaining advertisers.

9 Week Intentional Seller Program

For a fee, independent publishers and their sales reps attended a two-day intensive sales bootcamp, supported by the Dodge Foundation, to help them understand the Intentional Sales Process as a whole. Cippel, Batson, and Michaud will then follow up with each of the applicants over the next 8 weeks as they continue to hone their skills. This step-by-step coaching process includes reporting back on actual sales calls, weekly homework assignments and feedback from the coaches, and incorporates role-playing with the other participants.

At the end of the program, each of our participants will report back to us about the experience, the progress they've made, and the lessons they've learned along the way.