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borrell-digital-only-aes.jpgA “one-staff-fits-all” strategy may not be the best approach for local media companies, according to a January 2012 report from Borrell Associates, which finds that sites with dedicated digital account executives (AEs) outperform those without by a factor of 2.5. In fact, gross online revenue per sales representative (online dollars divided by all representatives selling digital products) is roughly $186,000 for sites with digital AEs, compared to $73,300 for those without any dedicated AEs.

Among TV stations the disparity is even greater: those with sales representatives dedicated exclusively to selling online advertising average almost 3 times the gross revenue of those without ($208,200 vs. $70,300).

Online-Only AEs Hiring Down

46% of local media respondents reported having an online-only AE, down from 60% in 2009. Radio sported the lowest average of digital-only sellers, with just 11% of radio companies employing at least one. Only 2 in 5 local TV stations had at least one online-only AE, although the majority of newspapers (55%) did.

Digital AEs Perform Well With Consultative Sales Approach

borrell-consultative-sales.jpgOverall, sales managers seemed pleased with their representatives’ performance using the consultative approach, with the majority rating their performance good to outstanding. However, there was a clear difference between companies working with dedicated digital AEs and those without: managers with digital AEs reported an excellent to outstanding rank at a rate of 56%, while those without a dedicated digital staff reported that satisfaction level at a rate of 32%.

Similarly, managers whose staff included digital AEs were far more likely than those without to rank their staff’s understanding of digital products as excellent to outstanding (58% vs. 11%).

Other Findings:

  • 15% of managers who had no digital-only AEs on staff rated their staff’s motivation to sell digital products as poor.
  • Less than half of managers without digital-only AEs said that their sales representatives had a good to outstanding level of understanding of the basic business trends for their advertising customers.

About the Data: Borrell’s analysis was derived from: an online survey of 345 local media sales managers that yielded 230 usable responses, conducted November 2011 to January 2012; Borrell’s database of online revenue and number of dedicated sales representatives at more than 5,100 local media companies in the US and Canada; and a survey of 7,805 local businesses conducted January to December, 2011.

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