'So Now What?'

A student posed this question during a recent seminar I conducted. We had spent the day covering the range of ingredients needed to cook up an online ad deal. As we wrapped up, he asked, "So after I sell a deal, now what happens?"

The correct answer is contingent on his publishing organization reorganizing itself. If structured correctly, the sales rep hands off the deal to his inside sales partner, who, along with an ad operations manager, test the creative assets sent by their client to make sure the creative appears the way it was sold, regardless of the browser used to visit the site. Then this inside duo hovers over the campaign from start to finish, ensuring impression goals are met. But this student's organization isn't there yet. So instead I smiled, because he'd asked a great question, and answered, "This is where it gets interesting."

Online is far more labor-intensive than other media. Online publishers have known this for years, and have dedicated a large amount of real estate on their organizational chart to inside sales support positions. It's been a while since I ran sales at IGN, but when I was there, we had one inside salesperson assigned to every two outside sales reps. Additionally, we had a team of ad operation managers who held weekly meetings with just the inside sales members to ensure our processes were working to meet the needs of our buyers.



Traditional publishers selling online are not set up this way. They use inside sales support to help manage revenue estimates, internal conference calls, and client events. Once online revenue starts to flow into their organizations, they will be forced to mimic an online publisher's structure.

That's because the ability of their outside sales reps to project-manage an online buy will heavily influence advertiser renewal and retention rates. A magazine sales rep isn't judged on how well his magazine's production team executed the placement of a full- page ad, but in online, given all the moving parts of a sold campaign, salespeople are judged on their ability to make sure the buy they constructed happens as planned. To excel at this, an outside salesperson needs inside support dedicated to client campaigns.

Unfortunately for salespeople, publishing management often fails to invest enough in this inside sales support-centric structure. As a result, salespeople scramble to ensure a buy runs smoothly, and are often sent on a scavenger hunt to find critical data needed for getting closer to closing a deal. This will eventually wear them down and stunt online sales growth.

Selling an online deal isn't nearly as hard as executing one. The better you set up your inside, the better you set up your sales force for success on the outside.

Feel free to post your thoughts and thanks once again for spending time with mine.

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