What impacts are media sales organizations facing and what actions are they preparing to take?


On April 9th, Alexander Group held a virtual Media Advisory Council (MAC ) summit with media sales executives to explore their response to the recent market conditions and path forward. Revenue leaders from Pinterest, Disney, Hulu, The Economist, The Atlantic, Reddit, Hearst, VICE, Intersection, Buzzfeed among others, discussed the new reality of the media sales landscape.

Media Response Flash Survey

Initial dialogue highlighted findings from Alexander Group’s recent Media Response Flash Survey. The survey, which included responses from 50 media revenue leaders, revealed the impacts media sales organizations are facing in regards to account reprioritization, value propositions, role and resource alignment, customer success, sales compensation and quotas, and sales enablement. A few takeaways:

  • 40% expect COVID-19 to have a negative impact on revenue of 15-25%
  • 80%+ of sales have moved to phone/virtual sales engagement for the indefinite future
  • 77% are planning to provide some type of quota relief

Keep Sales Teams Active

While publishers are focusing on how to maintain a supportive and empathetic environment for their sales teams, the shift of activities to more efficient resources to create more sales capacity is paramount. Media sales leaders all agreed that keeping sales teams active is a top concern. Publishers are looking to drive and measure seller activity, including quality customer conversations and ideations of new solutions. But, building sales capabilities with training and development such as running virtual meetings, enhancing product knowledge and understanding customer insights and research is important to ensure continued productivity.

According to the Chief Revenue Officer of a leading out-of-home media firm, “It’s really a client and seller first mentality. Showing empathy, providing tools and training. We have invested since COVID-19 in actual learning and training programs for everyone to have client dialogues, meetings virtually. It shows the team that we’re investing in them.”

Provide Effective Client Engagement

One of the biggest concerns to publishers is ensuring that sales are providing effective client engagement. Per an EVP of Sales from a leading integrated print company, “Our first priority as this crisis came upon us was to be consultative with our business partners.” A Global Head of Sales from a pure play digital organization agreed, “The consultative conversations with clients are actually linked with what we can share with them about how the customer is changing.”

Use a Consultative Approach

Many advertisers are on-edge of what to do in this crisis while other forge ahead. The VP of Digital Sales for an integrated print firm stated, “There are some clients who know they need to stay course and they need to continue to engage people. Some of them want to execute the bigger and larger programs they were looking to do. And then there are those that are a little bit lost that are looking for guidance and information on how and what should we do. So I think it’s all over the gamut. It’s imperative that the direction of the sales team is to be that consultative source.”

Additional insights from the discussion included:

  • Focus strongly on advertiser Customer Success solutions and results
  • Accelerate buyer education on new products
  • Identify valuable data streams with first party data and sharing informative insights with advertisers

Alexander Group’s updated Sales Leadership Flash Survey is open April 7th-9th. Participating organizations will receive the findings report the week of April 13th. Research highlights briefings, covering a summary of the survey and other research findings, are available for both participants and non-participants. Additional survey updates are planned in the coming weeks to further gauge how organizations are responding and preparing for a return to growth.

A virtual summit on how to navigate your media sales organization through crisis will be held April 15th at 10-11:30 AM ET / 2-3:30PM GMT. This session will include media sales leaders’ responses to the April 9th Flash Survey.

COVID-19 presents a constantly evolving and uncertain environment for media organizations. Revenue leaders need to address the health and safety of their employees, leverage key customer success strategies and be prepared for when market conditions improve. Additional virtual summits include:

  • April 22nd, Deciphering Sales Compensation During Uncertain Time
  • May 13th, Prepare to Ramp Up During the Downturn
  • May 20th, Operationalizing Your Ramp Up Strategy

To register, please visit our Media Advisory Council webpage or contact an Alexander Group media sales practice lead.

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