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The Basics of a Formal Sales Process

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Written by Aysling

Published: 07/14/2015

Always Be Closing…

…is also known as the “ABC” of sales. This bit of wisdom was made famous by Alec Baldwin during his Oscar-winning performance in the 1992 film “Glengarry Glen Ross.” In the magazine industry, selling ads will make or break most publications and that is ultimately the reason you want to have a formal sales process. While many debate the extent to which that process is systematized, there are a few key elements that any sales pipeline should implement to ensure profitability. Nothing is more motivating for a sales person than making a great sale and this process is supposed to help — not hinder — that. The bottom line, according to Harvard Business Review, is that companies that have a formal sales process make more money.

Essential Elements

The sales cycle, regardless of length, essentially involves qualifying, nurturing, and converting a lead. A formal sales process uses a system called a CRM, or Customer Relationship Management, as the core tool to keep track of leads and what their status is. Like many things in life, you must be able to answer who, how, when, where, and why. That means your sales process needs to have a clear way of allowing your sales team to input lead contact information (who), connection efforts (how & when), lead status (where), and the reason for that status (why). This makes sure there is no crossover for prospects and it allows the manager to see where a prospect is without having to bug the sales team. What takes sales to the next level is having a system integrated with calendar, email, and phone systems to ensure a consistent sales cadence. A consistent sales cadence involves having regular intervals of contact depending on the lead status. Managers should be able to assign tasks to help guide the team to focus on which prospects should take higher priority. In addition to that cadence, it is helpful to have a script that allows your sales team to effectively engage with their prospects.

The Added Aspects of Ads

Whether print or digital, the vast majority of any magazine publication relies on ad sales for revenue. This poses a particularly difficult challenge because ad rates vary wildly depending on the size of the publication, potential length of client relationship, size of spread, competition rates, market trends, and the weather. Maybe not so much the last one, but there are a number of variables that make determining a profitable sale beyond the mathematical capacity of people who don’t have degrees in non-linear algebra. Having an updated rate card with clearly defined margins for your sales team to offer discounts is a must. If your content spans print and digital this information is all the more necessary.

Selling advertisements for magazines is a lot like selling anything else. There are a few unique challenges, but knowing the basic principles of sales will take you a long way.

Special thanks to Mark Shalinsky for his contribution.

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