A recent MediaGrowth Excellorator interview with Amy Schwandt, Chief Revenue Officer of AC Business Media, turned into a great discussion/advice session on B2B media sales management. Amy leads thirteen sales representatives that sell across 5 verticals in supply chain and construction marketplaces. Here is some of what she shared about ACBM’s sales structure.
With so much changing in B2B media and so many complex products to offer, ACBM leadership recognized the need to streamline their sales process, support their sales reps and keep from overwhelming their clients with a 60-product laundry list. So…
A Director of Marketing Services and a Director of Demand Generation were added alongside the Brand Directors (Publishers). These directors participate in sales calls and throughout client campaigns; applying their specific expertise and assisting sales and clients by determining the products that will best achieve goals, evaluating campaign results, helping to nurture leads generated, and ensuring content created is utilized for maximum effectiveness.
Production team members were elevated to Partner Success Managers. PSMs reach out to clients for materials, answer process questions, run reports for sales, and become what Amy calls “the magic behind the curtain” to support both salespeople and clients. But they also get to know clients’ needs so well that clients trust and want to work with them. Directors and PSMs work closely to ensure that processes are running as intended.
So now, salespeople have help to ask the right fact-finding questions and to direct clients away from products that will not produce results. They have more time to strengthen client relationships, achieve call quotas, update activity in the CRM system, formulate weekly forecasts and attend to issues that arise.
Amy says that clients feel supported by a team with product expertise, the experience to say which products will work for them (and which will not), and the ability to create whatever is needed for success. Clients feel less overwhelmed by all the possibilities and are more open to thinking outside the box – more open to sales challenging their thinking, suggesting new products, and asking for their entire budget.
Our next MediaGrowth Perspectives e-newsletter will focus on how Amy attracts, trains, motivates and retains her sales team.
In our last MediaGrowth Perspectives e-newsletter, we recounted some of what Amy told us about AC Business Media’s sales structure. Here is some of what she said in our MediaGrowth Excellorator interview about keeping her sales team motivated, productive, accountable, and growing.
“Selling RVs is easy. Anyone can do that”, says Amy. “Selling media is hard, so the culture we create is hugely important. It has been said that people don’t quit jobs, they quit bosses, so I try to be a servant leader and to lead by example. I try to communicate to each rep that they are doing meaningful work and that they are important. And yes, we all need to work hard, but we can play hard too, and we can have a work-life balance. I’ve found that this type of respect for people makes them want to stay.”
ACBM requires all sales reps to work on obtaining the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Digital Media Sales Certification. At the yearly sales meeting, all reps are given the needs of a hypothetical client and must create a presentation deck and then make the presentation to the rest of the sales team. “It causes some stress, says Amy, but isn’t that what reps need to be able to do?”
Still, Amy acknowledges that you don’t help reps succeed by forcing everyone to work the same way as your #1 rep. She says that managers work to help reps capitalize on their own particular strengths, but also to help them out of their comfort zones, so they don’t just keep selling the one type of program that they know best. Reps meet regularly with the Marketing Service and Demand Generation Directors in one-on-one, 30-minute meetings to ensure they are pitching those products. Quarterly territory reviews with Amy and the directors focus on unmet category goals and improvement strategies are explored.
ACBM revises compensation plans yearly and incentivizes reps for focusing on where the company is going to market and on the new products that have been developed that year. Healthy competitions are also part of the plan. “Everyone wants to win and even the #1 salesperson is a little bit bothered when someone else is ahead in some area.” says Amy.