Over the past few years, there has been a growing trend to develop Cross-Functional or Self-Directed Sales Teams comprised of Sales Executives, Graphic Designers, Telemarketing Specialists and Marketing Experts.
This trend has been developed because the greatest obstacle to growth has been the traditional publication environment, where one department creates ads, another department sells ads, a third department bills and someone else deals with tear-sheets and mistakes. Even those people who want to be marketing juggernauts are hamstrung by the exhaustive activities associated with getting ads produced.
When salespeople are asked about things that hold back productivity and reduce market shares, they usually list 4 things: not enough time in the field, too much paperwork, not enough creativity, and too many errors in ads.
When Cross-Functional Teams are created, they put more and diverse staff members into personal contact with advertisers thereby improving communication and customer satisfaction. A publication with such teams places much or all team compensation into a commission or bonus structure. With such financial motivation, teams turn into virtual small business units with an entrepreneurial approach to their jobs. It is essentially a share-the-wealth program.
A typical team consists of 4 or 5 salespeople, an equal number of Graphics Designers, 1 or 2 Marketing Coordinators who provide research data and other sales assistance, and an outbound Telemarketer to call new accounts and sell special promotions. In some cases where a staff is small, there could be 3 Account Executives and a Graphic Artist. Even in these circumstances, many sales people are getting spec ads within three hours.
In addition to finding new sources of revenue, teams can save the publication money by reducing the number of make-goods, mainly because advertisers deal more directly with Graphic Artists.
Team compensation also brings in more money and team members than traditional publication pay structures. At some papers, Ad Designers and Marketing Specialists earn bonuses for the presentation or spec ads they prepare and the percentage of those ads that result in new business. At other papers, all the team members receive a share of the total team revenue. The bottom line is that team members make a lot more money, and publishers say they’ll pay them double if they’re getting double the results.
As teams being to form, training becomes critical. Advertising managers begin with sessions on team-building, then work on skills followed by sales psychology and the production process. Technology such as good, fast computers can markedly raise team productivity. While salespeople go out and sell, team-mates can gather data, create ads, track orders, schedule clients and perform many jobs. Software helps make teams more productive by tracking bonuses and commissions, keeping detailed records of calls made, presentations created, accounts gained, accounts lost and other details of the advertising sales process.
The teamwork aspect works well when members of the teams who share the same duties (like all the artists) meet or communicate regularly to share ideas and best working practices. They physically place team members in daily contact, even if it means tearing down walls and moving offices.
A key issue in the team concept is that among several teams, one team can end up with more lucrative territories than others, which may require adding and subtracting accounts. Also the team has to have the capability to service accounts sold, although in some overload cases, some new business might have to be transferred to another team for service.
Who knows, how widespread this team system may get to be? But they could be the sales teams of the future.