Vendasta’s Vice President of Sales George Leith has built, trained and led Vendasta’s various sales teams for over five years now. By implementing strategy and structure for SDR’s, BDRs, Account Executives and Account Managers specific to media sales, our team has exceeded expectations—and targets! Join George for this informative webinar that will teach you how to organize, launch and generate revenue with your media sales team.

Webinar transcript

Good morning everyone, or good afternoon, depending upon where you are logging in, or maybe it’s even good evening. We are ready for the weekly sales webinar. My name is George Leith. Our topic today, How to Launch and Organize Media Sales Teams. A number of partners reaching out asking if we could do some sort of a topic on what’s the best way to go about this. And some of these requests came after last week’s webinar where we spoke about the various items that help with churn, things that you and the way that you position your teams around churn. I’m gonna give you a bit of a refresher on that here in a moment or two. 

Coming to you from beautiful Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, headquarters of Vendasta. Our headquarters is not in the castle. It’s just behind. But getting ready to depart this afternoon, super excited. Jackie Cook, our VP of Growth, and myself, getting on about seventeen flights to make our way to Australia. We’ll arrive on Friday morning. And Joel and Luke and the gang from Fairfax Media, I’m really looking forward to spending the next 13 days with you folks. And we’re going to be traveling around. And we’re gonna land in Brisbane, and we’re gonna make our way down to Sydney. And we’re gonna hit a number of different markets and work with a number of different people, even make our way to Tasmania and then back into Melbourne. So super excited about that.

And that might have been part of the reason why I wanted to talk about, you know, how do you set up your media sales team? We’ve had a lot of experience with this over the last four years in working with some of the biggest media organizations around the world. And we’ve found some things that work, and we’ve found some things that don’t work. And I wanted to share these stories with you and just some of challenges and opportunities depending upon how you make a decision to set up your media sales team.

Now, with that said, if you are an agency, pardon me, you may want to listen to this too, because what some media partners have done is just went and started their own agency off on the side completely away from the media entity. And I’ll talk about why that has occurred.

I was working with a partner yesterday, and we were talking about the Vendasta story and eight years ago when seven young gentlemen started Vendasta. It has now grown into over 210 people. And we have over 400,000 businesses worldwide on the platform and media partners all over the world. We’re super excited about our growth. And you see that star up there in the top right-hand corner. Reputation management was where it all started. That was the first point solution that was built, and then other solutions followed, like brand analytics, social marketing, presence builder, listing distribution.

And then we started to understand that there was a challenge in presenting to businesses with using marketing automation, in showing a needs analysis to those customers, that’s where Snapshot came from, in performing the work that came out of these point solutions, that’s where Digital Agency was born. And then if you are an agency or a media company and you’re looking to provision new products, you have to talk to lots of different people to do that. And that’s where Marketplace came from. And then you wanna keep track of how that whole sales funnel works and then the ultimate success journey that a customer has. That’s where Sales and Success Center was born. And then, of course, we have Partner Center where you, our agency and media partners, log into the Vendasta platform.

So we do a lot of talking about the left hand side of your screen, which is the platform. But don’t forget about those best in class products that are utilized inside that platform. And where we talk about all the new things that are happening, and I can’t stress this enough, is inside the weekly Product Insider. You will know exactly what the new releases are into the platform. You will know exactly what the beta features are. And you will know what the roadmap looks like if you pay attention to the Product Insider on a weekly basis. You can subscribe to it right on our website. And you could also get that Product Insider by talking to one of your success folks here at Vendasta, say, “Hey, I wanna make sure that I’m getting that Product Insider that George talked about on the webinar.”

And our blog, I don’t know if you’ve subscribed yet. What are you waiting for? There’s such great material inside the Vendasta blog and a number of different topics that surround our people and culture, insights about agencies or local digital products. You can find out about all of that and more by subscribing to the Vendasta blog.

And a new product webinar series was launched a few weeks back. It happens every Thursday at 3:00 Eastern Time. And it is all about the product. It’s not a sales webinar. We do a lot of sales type talk here. And we try to keep it focused on how to sell and how to position your sales teams for success. The product webinar is all about the product. So I look forward to hearing your feedback on that new product webinar as we continue to perform those Thursdays at 3:00 Eastern.

Our topic this week to launch and organize media sales teams. And, you know, I could recite story after story of working with vice presidents of sales, chief revenue officers, sales managers, and sales reps over the last four years. And it’s one of my favorite things to do, to work with sales people. That’s why I’m excited about Jackie and my trip to Australia where we’re gonna be with Joel and Luke and the gang. And we’re gonna get to meet a number of salespeople and sales managers and maybe even clients, because that’s where we find out what some of the best practices should be when you are talking to customers about their digital marketing solutions and their virtual doorways.

And launching and organizing media sales teams has been a bit of a challenge. And I’m gonna tell you about some of those findings. The reason for this is we got some feedback from last week’s webinar where we talked about those digital extenders, the digital committers, and the digital pure play. And, you know, those sales profiles of sales teams apply to anyone, whether its agencies, directory companies, newspapers, radio, television. We’ve had a lot of experience working with those organizations. You know, my history spans back…now I’m gonna date myself, but spans back almost 30 years in the media business. You know, I understand the challenges that media sales reps have. And in working with those media sales reps over the last four years in the digital space, I landed a tech company, we’ve been able to come up with some insights as to how to help those people sell and how to help them have conversations with their customers.

So we’re going to utilize these three items. And I’m gonna talk about the various challenges and opportunities around these three types of sales profiles. And remember, we had the digital extenders. Those were the traditional salespeople. So the way that we look at this, they used to sell on a quarter page ad in the newspaper. That’s what they’ve done for years. And now, they wanna start selling digital. And they have some challenges. They have some certain characteristics. And they have some challenges.

And the digital committers are those media companies that have said, “You know, we wanna commit fully to digital. We’re going to sell digital. And we’re going to maybe even hire our own digital sales force. There are some opportunities and challenges that have come out of that profile as well.

And then there are the pure play, and this is the group that I speak about that applies to agencies as well. This is where the legacy organization, whether it’s television, radio, newspaper, or directory companies, have said, “We’re gonna go all in on digital. In fact, we’re gonna go rent that building across town and call it something completely different.” Well, they have the same challenges as an agency that starts, we’ve found. And they have some certain characteristics. And we’re gonna talk about some of the challenges and opportunities around those.

So thanks to all the feedback that we got over the past week from last week’s webinar. It was very well attended and, obviously, very well listened to, because it was a lot of feedback of “Let’s go deeper into this. What are some of the things that you’ve learned working with those sales leaders?”

So I wanna talk about the legacy media sales reps. And these are the folks that have some significant challenges. And we found this as we see various organizations transition. I was working with a very large news organization in Montreal, Canada, here a few years back. I had a refresher call with those folks yesterday. And they basically went to their teams in their markets, and they said, “You’re gonna have to sell it all. You’re gonna have to sell…run a press,” meaning quarter-page ads, full-page ads, “You’re gonna have to sell inserts. And you’re gonna have to sell digital. And if you’re not prepared to commit to selling all three of those, you’re not gonna work here anymore.” And they saw a 30% churn, meaning 30% of the sales force were just done. They either weren’t prepared to make those commitments, or they decided to leave on their own. That organization has done very well in their transition of moving from legacy only media sales reps and getting into the digital space. Now, they are building a very lucrative digital business.

Another business, and this was on their earnings call this week, is the McClatchy Company. And Pat Talamantes, the CEO, I was listening to the caller yesterday. They’re winning in digital. Their digital is growing like crazy at that organization as they transition from a legacy media organization. But they don’t fall into this category across their new transition of their organization, because some of these challenges, if you’re just going to get your people that have been with you for years to sell digital, they struggle to adopt the new solutions, there’s a long ramp-up period, because they’re just gonna revert back to selling what they’ve always sold. Those legacy reps are somewhat intimidated by the digital products and services and the pace at which those products and services change and the amount of learning that’s required to learn the new products and services. So those are challenges that we saw as legacy media sales reps have transitioned.

You know, there is a news…there is a radio company rather in the United States that is very large. And they made the decision that they would just have their own team in a market that’s just gonna handle digital for them. And they let the legacy reps, the people that have been selling 30-second ads and remotes and things like that, just continue to do that work. And they went and got their own team. So I wouldn’t even put them into this group. The digital extender group are the group that are trying to take that newspaper rep and get them to sell digital along with newspaper. They had a number of challenges in doing that.

But on the flip side, those people have some enormous opportunities. So two and a half weeks ago, there was a group of us here from our sales and success department that went to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, to work with Great West Newspapers. This is the organization that I’m speaking about that fits into this legacy media piece that is trying to extend. They have phenomenal relationships. They sell lots of advertising. In fact, they’ve had a 7% growth in revenue over the past year in selling their traditional advertising. And what they wanna do is take those relationships and extend it into selling digital. They do have very good market knowledge. They understand the power players in the market. They know who has budget to spend. And they can get appointments.

You know, the legacy media rep, one of the things most attractive about them is they know everybody in town. So they can go in and get a call with some of the biggest opportunities in the marketplace. In fact, they probably golf with those people, or they go to PTA, or they meet those business owners at their kids’ events at schools and things like that. They are deeply embedded in the marketplace. So thus, they can get the appointments. But where they struggle is taking that extension. We have found that the legacy media reps sometimes struggle in having that digital conversation. So those are some of the challenges that we face on what I would call the far left side of this where we’ve got the legacy media rep that’s just trying to extend. So we take the person that’s selling print, or they’re selling 30-second radio ads, or they’re selling television ads, or they’re selling directory. And we’re going to give them a digital solution that they should sell in addition to it. Those are some of those challenges.

Now, what about the legacy team with digital specialists? You know, the first time that I heard about this, I was introduced to this lingo that goes along with this, called the four-legged call, where we have the legacy sales rep that sold 30-second ads, and they go out with a digital specialist. So there has been a number of organizations that are having an enormous amount of success with this. But the challenges that they face is “Well, I might have to pay two commissions on that,” because the legacy rep is the one that has the relationship. The digital specialist is the expert.

The other thing that I’ve heard from the digital specialist is “I got to do all the work.” So the legacy rep goes out and gets their budget and gets it in place for some sort of an ad buy in the legacy media. And then the digital rep has to go back and build a digital solution and do all the digital work. And then there is this worry that they’re gonna rob Peter to pay Paul. And what I mean by that is they’re going to take budget away from traditional. The legacy rep that’s been calling on the guy for 30 years is going to lose some revenue if he takes the digital specialist out.

Now, the smart legacy reps understand that they need the digital specialist, because what they’re going to do is they’re going to block someone else from coming in and selling. And, also, they have the opportunity as the legacy rep to learn from the digital specialist to become an expert. So it’s the opportunity to enhance the relationship and play a little bit of defense by bringing in the digital specialist. Now, someone else can’t come in. And my note there at the bottom of this slide is the digital pure play is the person that you’re trying to block out there, the person coming in trying to eat your lunch that just sells digital. So a number of challenges and opportunities around this center group, which is the legacy team with the digital specialist, and they go out on the four-legged call.

Now, we have the digital-only sellers. And here are the challenges that they face. And this is what we’re hearing from some of the biggest media partners that we deal with. The first is they have less experience in the marketplace. Now, I don’t mean they have less digital experience. I just mean they have less sales experience. They don’t golf with the buyer. The challenges are you’re sending someone in that may not even understand what the market is all about and the conditions that exist around the market.

Number two, what I call you are with who? So you come in as a new digital agency. The brand is unknown in the marketplace. And the client at the other end is “Oh, you’re just like the other 24 people that are calling on me, trying to sell me this stuff. You know, there’s no longevity in the brand. And you just plain can’t get appointments. And that is because of one and two you. Yave less experience in the market, and nobody knows who you are because you don’t have any brand identity. So those are some of the challenges that the digital-only sellers face. And what I mean by that is where the legacy media organization still does their legacy stuff, and they’ve created a complete other digital brand.

Now, some of those digital brands have been created out of necessity. And where that’s happened is in organizations where the legacy media can’t get a call now, because maybe the son took over the business or the daughter took over the business. And they’re younger. And they’re just saying, “We’re just not gonna do that stuff anymore. We’re tired of dealing with that legacy media.” So that’s one of the challenges there where the digital-only seller, in creating their own brand, might have a bit of a leg up is getting appointments. So there is a catch 22 there.

Now, the digital-only sellers have these opportunities. They have that clean slate. There’s no issues with “Oh, I used to deal with those guys, and they screwed some things up.” It’s just a clean slate. It’s a brand new opportunity. It’s a brand new company. It’s a brand new day. And they’re able to leverage that clean slate to be able to go out and have those digital conversations.

The other thing is is with the digital-only seller, they have nowhere else to retreat to. So what I mean by that is when you look at the legacy seller, they know how to sell quarter-page ads. They know how to sell full-page ads. That’s what they’ve been feeding their kids with for years and years and years. So sometimes what we find in those other models is the digital sale is the tough one, because you got to learn and you got to listen to webinars. And its always changing. And we’re always adding new products and services. So they sometimes just revert back to the old stuff. With the digital-only seller, they eat what they kill. They’re very vested in selling the digital products and services. And then they have that sexy new brand that they’re able to leverage and to build upsells. So it’s kind of exciting to build new things. And this is one of the opportunities that the digital-only sellers have is to build that sexy new brand that they can go out and continue to drive new revenue in the marketplace.

So a further extension of last week’s webinar where we talked about those three different groups, and we’re looking forward to the product webinar tomorrow. I just wanna check in and see if we have any questions. And we don’t have any questions today.

And for Christy, whose on the call today, you can get a complete copy of this slide deck. It is available online. Every webinar that we have, we have a recording, and we have the entire presentation available that you can download and have forever and ever and ever. Anyways, it’s always a pleasure joining you. And thanks for the comments on this week’s webinar. As I said to Christy there, if you need to look at the slides a little longer, they’re gonna be up on our support portal as all the webinars are there. And off to Australia. And we’ll have some stories on that. And we’re gonna be blogging from that trip. So keep an eye out on the blog for that. My name is George Leith. I will see you when I see you.