A “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
Overall, 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%).
- 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.