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Deadlines increase sales efficiency

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Gerald Ryerson joined Edgell Communications in late 1996 as COO and was named president in January 1999. Edgell's revenue has nearly tripled during Ryerson's tenure.

MB: How much have Web seminars grown for your company in the past year?

Ryerson: Last year, we had 10 to 15, but we knew there was a lot more demand. Our publishers thought they could sell 40 to 50 in 2005. They were looking at the opportunity from the advertising perspective; they wanted to deliver what the client wanted to buy. What I wanted to deliver was success.

MB: What do you do differently when you want to deliver success?

Ryerson: The publishing process forces discipline and everyone is forced to abide by the rules if they want to get something into print. With the Internet, there are no inherent deadlines, except for the ones you set. The customer doesn't want any. However, we were talking about a volume such that we needed to focus on the execution.

MB: What disciplines did you institute?

Ryerson: We have a master schedule that lays out all the steps, including a date by which the publication that has been assigned the date must have a signed contract. If they miss that date, the date is opened up to other publications, until we come to the date where we will no longer accept any sponsor.

So, for each week's Web seminar, it's book it or lose it. If the salespeople know the slot will go away if they don't sell it, they have a sense of urgency to book it. These deadlines are real because we make them real.

-Marie Griffin

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