Adrian Blake, publisher of Progressive Farmer
, is also a VP at the title's parent company, Omaha-based DTN Media Group, which focuses on agricultural, energy and weather business markets. Blake joined DTN in January 2003. Previously, he spent six years as a management consultant with McKinsey & Co.
MB: What is one tactic you are using with your salespeople that's a little unusual and yet successful?
For the past year, we've been tracking what's going on with our top clients in more ways. For example, I've set up RSS feeds so that I get all the press releases and other statements issued by our top 25 clients, who make up a big percentage of our revenue collectively. I cut and paste this information and e-mail it to the salespeople so that they develop an evolving picture of their clients over time. Then I hold them to a certain level of knowledge for their top five customers.
I supplement the client-specific messages with other sources of information that may apply. For example, I get statistics that show a slowdown in residential building. This becomes a reason to call a client that manufacturers light trucks to say, “We can help you offset the decline in the construction market with a marketing program to farmers.”
MB: How do salespeople use this information in selling?
Their job is to solve a business problem, not sell a page or an online ad. Now the salespeople are armed with something new to say during every call—something that applies specifically to that client.