How do you measure digital sales success?

How do digital sales fit into senior management compensation formulas?


Maybe you define digital sales success by whether you reached your personal sales goal this month.

Or by whether you reached the goal your boss assigned you.

Or by how many new customers you called on last month – and sold.

Or by whether your ad director is happy.

Or – ultimately – by whether your publisher is smiling.

We're all professionals here, but let's make a statement that seems way too obvious: it's important to have a personal and direct goal, around any project you tackle.

It doesn't have to be a stretch goal, or an unattainable goal, or a goal you know you won't make, or a goal you know that is too easy and that you will hit, easy, by day nine of a 30-day month.

It just has to be a goal – something that is out in front of you, something that requires you to put one foot ahead of the other one, and move forward.

And that goal takes on critical importance if you are thinking about digital sales.

But why?

Many papers are still struggling with commission approaches, with compensation plans, with how to reward sales people for their digital efforts ... and also how hard to press sales people to spend time on digital, and how much time to spend.

This is especially true at papers that are still doing well with print, and there are many out there.

There's no such thing as "easy money" any more, but many sales people are quite comfortable with print, and less comfortable with digital. And they gravitate to their comfort level.

Many sales people haven't had the practical experience, or the training, and that's unfortunate.

Print seems to be hanging in nicely in many areas, but it's a digital future.  And every day lost not preparing for it is a day that newspapers are yielding their turf to third-party players who do know how to sell digital.

Those companies already blanket the metro areas, and now are moving into the smaller communities to lead small-medium businesses onto a digital path – if newspapers don't do it first.

SMBs are important advertisers for most newspapers. If you're an ad person, and you think your SMBs "don't get it," teach them. Because if you don't, the third-party players will, and suddenly you'll see your hometown advertisers showing up on digital platforms that aren't yours.

And if you're a sales person thinking of the future, think about where you want to be, skills-wise and education-wise, in the digital arena. And set a digital-related goal, even if you're the only one aware of that goal.

If you're a publisher, think about how you manage your team and what goals you have in place. Sure, bring in every last dime of print money available, but don't let digital slide.

Our company did a survey recently for a client, and one of the questions was "how do digital sales fit into senior management compensation formulas?"

Representative anecdotal responses from sales managers at a variety of papers are below. Does it surprise you that almost half are still struggling with how to reward digital sales efforts?


  • Digital audience and sales goals are factored into performance bonuses.
  • Goals account for percentage of annual bonus potential.
  • No compensation I receive for that. I personally look at it as my responsibility to make my budget. But for my front-line managers interfacing with sales reps, they do have goals with digital. They also have MBOs that incorporate digital. They need to push hard to achieve the goal they have to have.
  • It certainly affects everyone from sales manager, up to sales director and the vp of advertising. They have an online number to hit.
  • It is not factored in at all.
  • Senior management is paid on the profit of overall market success.
  • It doesn't factor in. Contributes to total revenue picture but not a separate value put to it.
  • Not specifically, just part of overall revenue goals.
  • Senior management has quarterly online goals.

Publisher, or straight out-of-school ad sales person, what's your digital goal?

Media Solutions Partners offers both strategy and hands-on guidance to help media companies and the media support industry transition to a creative and innovative digital future.  Contact John Reetz at (404) 316-4759 or


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