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Case Study: Solano Magazine

“Working with SEE Strategies to reconstruct our sales department has been instrumental in increasing our sales over 20% within just 120 days.”
---Michelle Branton, Publisher, Solano Magazine

In all too many sales organizations the old adage is true: 80% of the sales are made by 20% of the sales force. This was especially true for Solano Magazine. Focused on the region that is nestled at the edge of the Bay Area and northern California’s Wine Country, the publication has a sophisticated slant on lifestyle subjects that appeal to the area’s affluent population. Despite having the right niche for the area, the magazine’s sales were sluggish, with an under-performing sales force.

The Problem
After assessing the different issues affecting production, it was clear to the SEE Strategies team that there was little or no structure and accountability among the sales force. High turnover, the inability to hire and train new associates, no training materials, and no centralized prospect database – the reasons for the inconsistent sales performance were clear. The state of the sales staff was chaos, with little or no management to be found.

Approach & Solution
The Magazine had a number if issues to resolve. First, though, was creating a mentor-relationship with the owner. Without her buy-in and commitment, no amount of coaching and foundation-building would really matter. So, SEE Strategies began mentoring the owner in how to manage the sales team. This started with a process structure that included:

  • Structuring a hiring process
  • Communicating a vision to the sales team to create buy-in
  • We defined and improved all communication protocols
  • Identified important sales verticals
  • We structured weekly sales meetings, and
  • We developed aggressive 30-60-90 day development plans for team members.

Once this process was in place, the next logical step was to introduce means of tracking performance and installing an ongoing training process. Both processes are used to elevate sales output, and create accountability; and both processes are introduced on a concurrent basis, allowing the manager to address problems, helps team members overcome challenges and barriers, and improve success on an incremental basis. This process included:

  • Developing training collateral pertinent to the Magazine’s objectives
  • Implementing goals and metrics for the Magazine, and for each individual
  • Created and improved weekly sales reports
  • Tracked individual results on a weekly basis
  • Introduced weekly one-on-one sales-focused performance support.

Finally, once these internal processes had been streamlined, other external factors were addressed. This included improving the channels of communication between sales and editorial, and removing obstacles identified by the team, in addition to eliminating time-stealers from the staff. Ultimately, with the team’s buy-in, and the steadily increasing results, a “can-do” attitude within the team was created and fostered.

The Results
With high-profile companies like magazines and other media, an apparent lack of quality in any area of business will be magnified through a lack of sales. Because media is so competitive, and ad dollars are increasingly shrinking due to the multiplicity of media available to advertisers, employing a high-functioning team has never been more important. When the Solano Magazine team gained clarity regarding their mission, became accountable for their results, and were provided the structure needed to attain the aggressive goals it had set. The sales team developed a collective pride that created individual accountability, and a level of accountability as a team. With the change in environment, the Magazine also filled two open territories, and began attracting higher caliber account executives. The end result was a 20% increase in sales within three short months, and an increased level of awareness regarding the Magazine throughout this highly affluent and influential region.

 

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