Sell­ing News­pa­pers

“If some­one has a sell­ing per­son­al­ity, we can teach them the rest.”

Newspapers & Technology Magazine - - Industry Insight -

“We need to find ways to give our staff the tools they need to get the job done. Train­ing is nec­es­sary if we are go­ing to have suc­cess­ful ad reps, ed­i­tors and writ­ers.”

While at­tend­ing the Ten­nessee Press As­so­ci­a­tion Con­ven­tion re­cently, Jack Fish­man, Mor­ris­town, said those words to me as we sat at the cor­ner of a long ta­ble, wait­ing for a board meet­ing to be­gin.

I’m pretty sure he knew he was preach­ing to the choir. What fol­lowed were emails, phone con­ver­sa­tions and, even­tu­ally, a face-to-face meet­ing be­tween Mike Fish­man, pub­lisher of the (Mor­ris­town) Cit­i­zen Tribune, Jack and my­self.

As I’ve writ­ten many times, there are cor­re­la­tions be­tween suc­cess­ful news­pa­pers and busi­ness prac­tices. Mr. Fish­man was right. Train­ing is a nec­es­sary in­gre­di­ent if we are go­ing to have suc­cess­ful staff.

Speak­ing of train­ing, ex­actly one week af­ter my visit to Mor­ris­town to dis­cuss train­ing, I trav­eled to Greeneville, Ten­nessee, just 30 miles up the road. The rea­son for the trip was to do some tests and work with the staff of The Greeneville Sun to im­prove the re­pro­duc­tion qual­ity in photos.

While there, I ran into a fa­mil­iar face. Hala Wat­son has at­tended sev­eral of my de­sign classes over the years.

Hala was quick to tell me she had re­cently moved from the pro­duc­tion area to the ad­ver­tis­ing staff. I told her I wasn’t sur­prised be­cause she has the per­son­al­ity of a sales­per­son.

I also was not sur­prised to learn she is lov­ing sales and has gained quite the rep­uta- tion as a suc­cess­ful ad rep af­ter just four months on the job.

“You know what I do? The pub­lisher dares me to go out and make a par­tic­u­lar sale, then I go out and make the sale. It’s that sim­ple.”

I’ve been working with Tim Smith quite a bit lately in train­ing ad reps, and I knew it surely wasn’t that easy. But maybe it was.

She told me there was a new yoga stu­dio in town. I later passed it on the way to lunch with some of the news­pa­per man­agers.

“Gregg Jones (Sun pub­lisher) dared me to go out and sell them a dou­ble truck, so that’s what I’m go­ing to do,” Hala told me just be­fore lunch.

For those un­fa­mil­iar, a “dou­ble truck” refers to a pair of fac­ing pages with con­tent that stretches over both pages. This usu­ally oc­curs over the cen­ter spread of a news­pa­per.

As our group walked into the din­ing room at Gen­eral Mor­gan Inn, I saw Hala hav­ing lunch with the owner of the stu­dio. They were deep in con­ver­sa­tion. I didn’t see any com­put­ers, fold­ers or sales sheets. Just the two of them talk­ing.

Two hours later, back at the news­pa­per, I saw Hala.

“Did you sell the dou­ble truck?” I asked.

“No, but let me show you what I did sell!”

She pulled out a 52-week con­tract. That isn’t a typo. She sold a 52-week con­tract over lunch. I don’t know why, but I wasn’t sur­prised.

Later, I called Hala and asked if she would share some se­crets to her suc­cess. She was more than happy to share her in­sights.

“I just try to be me. I like peo­ple. I en­joy talk­ing to peo­ple and they seem to re­spond.”

When asked how she ap­proaches a po­ten­tial ad­ver­tiser, she made it sound sim­ple.

“I don’t take pa­pers or a folder or any­thing with me. We just have con­ver­sa­tions. I don’t push. No one likes to be pushed.”

Asked what she did on her first day as a sales­per­son, she of­fered, “I just left the of­fice and went out and started meet­ing peo­ple. And guess what. It worked.”

I told Hala she was an in­ter­viewer’s dream. She just kept feed­ing me one great quote af­ter an­other. But these weren’t canned lines, she meant what she was say­ing. She loves sell­ing and ad­ver­tis­ers are re­spond­ing.

“At first,” she told me, “I didn’t think I would be a good sales­per­son. When they showed me the pa­per­work, it was over­whelm­ing.”

I asked how she got over that.

“I just started go­ing out. I love meet­ing peo­ple and vis­it­ing with them. I just de­cided to be me.”

Dur­ing our phone con­ver­sa­tion, I learned the yoga stu­dio con­tract wasn’t her first. She had signed an­other year-long con­tract a few weeks ear­lier.

Ar­tie We­henkel, ad­ver­tis­ing direc­tor at The Sun, told me, “I worked closely with Hala when she was in the news­room. I al­ways thought she was a nat­u­ral sales­per­son, and I was right. If some­one has a sell­ing per­son­al­ity, we can teach them the rest.”

Photo by Brian Cut­shall, Greeneville Sun

“Peo­ple are re­spond­ing,” Hala Wat­son ex­plained. “They want to ad­ver­tise and I help them get the best ad­ver­tis­ing for their money.”

Kevin Slimp The News Guru

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