BIA/Kelsey announced today that veteran sales leader Stacey Sedbrook has been named VP of Strategic Sales Consulting. Below is an interview with Sedbrook that reveals some of her topline thinking.
Q. Sales force transformation is a buzz phrase that a lot of companies have seized on. What does it mean to you?
A: It is a buzz phrase, and people are using it interchangeably. In reality, transformation impacts two key things: infrastructure and implementation. For any sales organization, you always are going to want to start with infrastructure and how it impacts implementation — things like communication, fulfilment and escalation.
Q: How smart do media companies really need to be about this? Won’t vendors do it for them?
A: To some degree, we see many companies hoping that third parties, like digital agencies, will handle everything for them. In reality, when you are selling and fulfilling digital, there are a lot of things you need to learn to do on your own. There is no such thing as “do it for me.” There is only do it with me.? A lot of organizations aren’t prepared for that.
Q: In his book, The Innovator’s Dilemma, Clayton Christensen said that disrupters need to establish their new business separately from the old business. Many media companies originally took his advice to heart, but have now merged their digital and traditional units. What is your position?
A: It really depends on what your revenue expectations are. Companies can sell their own digital assets or they can sell audience extension products. For that, they don’t need to hire a dedicated sales force. But when you set your sites higher and are selling more sophisticated products like SEO, SEM, Video and mobile, you will need to hire people who are more knowledgable about the digital space because it’s a different type of sale. And regardless of sales structure, digital revenue should be managed at a higher level by someone who is dedicated to digital. A VP of Advertising is always going to have to spend more time on products and services where there is a critical mass and revenues.
Q: Is it now possible to bypass Feet on the Street? Can you do it all with telemarketing?
A: Again, it really depends on the product or service. Telemarketers can sell small transactional products like directory and email marketing, and websites and packages that might range from $300 to $500. A digital package with a low cost of entry, and a clear value proposition, is easy to sell over the phone. But it is very hard to sell custom services from the sales center. That’s been the focus on a number of digital agencies that have highly trained sales people to sell these services, and others to manage them. Agencies like ReachLocal, Local Edge and Smart Reach Digital are building customer service teams and account management teams.
Q: Are we dating ourselves by talking about “advertisers?” Should we really be talking about “marketers”?
A: It is definitely much more strategic to talk about marketers and marketing. Clients really want us to offer marketing strategy. They don’t just want someone selling them a 1/4 page ad, or a coupon. We need to be mindful that a good marketing campaign involves a lot more than what you are selling. Our clients need to understand where to spend their money first.
Q: You’ve been a digital sales leader with the whole gamut of local media leaders, ranging from Citysearch to top newspaper and radio groups. What will you be doing as BIA/Kelsey’s new VP of Strategic Sales Consulting?
For me, it is really about change management. What we’ve found is that change management never happens successfully unless it starts at the top, where BIA/Kelsey’s client relationships are. The rest of the management team is critical to implementing the change but they need to know their executive team is committed to the effort.
We really like to focus on understanding the needs of the whole organization, and then assess their needs at the middle management level for digital product training and their value proposition for digital. This helps to increase their speed to market. You know what we find? Too many organizations underestimate the level of time and commitment these efforts require.