How do I gain a bigger share of online revenue?

How do I help my team sell online?


Everything is online – newspapers, stores, photo-sharing sites, etc. As your newspaper has probably learned, the prospects that your sales team are going after not only have an online presence, but their digital strategy is a large part of their overall marketing plan. The challenge is making sure that your team can get a percentage of that revenue.

The first step toward making any sale is building the relationship. People buy from those they know, like and trust. At first glance, it may seem difficult to build a relationship over the Internet without face-to-face interaction, but in actuality, the Internet provides a great platform to develop rapport with your prospect. By leveraging the tools that are available and building an online interaction the right way, you can actually create a deeper bond with your client than you would in person. 

Once you learn how to develop a relationship online, you will see your profits go up, as you will now be able to add to your local sales by bringing in revenue from accounts all over the country, without the travel costs of a face-to-face meeting.

In any sales interaction, building the relationship is about delivering value to your prospect or customer.  Your first interaction with a potential advertiser should be a needs analysis call. It should be an open discussion as to what the client needs and wants.

The basic rule of sales is – if you can meet the needs of your prospect, you have greatly increased your chances of making the sale. 

Before the call, use the Internet to prepare. Take a look at the company's website to try to learn more about any new products or initiatives it is working on. Also, take a look at the management team to identify the decision maker. Once you find your point of contact, run a Google search to not only learn more about his or her background but to also see if you have anything in common.

Once you have planned for your call, I recommend implementing a strategy of "phone-email-phone."  First, call your prospect. If you actually have a chance to talk with him or her, roll into your value proposition and ask open-ended questions to learn more about the company's needs. 

If you get voicemail, leave a message explaining why you called and note that you will be emailing additional information. That's step two: send an email that gives a general idea of what you can offer. Attach a one-page PDF with additional information. 

Then, step three is to call again. You should call three business days after you sent the email so you give your prospect a chance to review everything that you sent.

If you still have not received a response from the prospect, try calling one more time. After that, send an email at least once a month with something of value. It could be a note about an article you saw related to the industry, it could be a success story from another newspaper advertiser, or something else.

The key is that you are not simply following up with a sales pitch, but rather with information that is important and valuable to the company. That's how you build a relationship online: offer value.  Then, over time, as you continue to deepen the relationship with the prospect, a connection will be made and you will make the sale.

Allan Barmak is a national speaker and author of "The Accidental Salesperson." He leads a sales consulting and training firm which leverages his 20 years of sales experience in digital media. Over the years, he has worked with a variety of different companies across a wide range of industries, helping each of them expand their sales operations by optimizing existing revenue streams as well as building new ones.

He is available to run customized training for your salespeople to help them sell online media and can also deliver an "Accidental Salesperson" column for your paper if you would like additional content.

He can be reached at or (703) 597-1033.


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