For C-level b-to-b media executives, changing mindsets is top of mind

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Naples, Fla.—B-to-b sales representatives need strong financial incentives and not just a bonus to condition themselves to the surge in digital media sales, according to Bob Carrigan, president of technology publishing giant IDG Communications.

“They need incentive below the line and not just a bonus, and with that a good majority of [sales reps] can adapt” to online sales, said Carrigan, who spoke Monday at a seminar titled “Transformation: The C-Suite’s Point of View” at American Business Media’s Spring Meeting 2007. He added that all sales forces need “specialists” in selling online media to augment those sales representatives who are used to selling print media.

“When you start selling [digital] that’s when the work begins in terms of tracking performance metrics,” Carrigan said.

Another crucial element in revving up online sales, Carrigan said, is to provide field reps with “really good accounting services” to assist them from the home office.

Tad Smith, CEO of Reed Business Information, said he deploys four different types of sales teams: a network sales force; traditional sales, with an electronic quota; online sales; and an inside sales force to work the telephones. “All of the sales reps are double-commissioned,” Smith said. “We want everyone to be happy.”

The panel also addressed dramatic change on the edit side, as many editors now shift back and forth between developing print and online content, as well as creating events. “It’s more cultural than product driven,” said Tom Henricks, president of McGraw-Hill Aerospace and Defense, which includes Aviation Week & Space Technology. “You’re talking about people who have worked their entire career for a magazine,” Henricks said. “It’s a mindset shift to provide information to a customer and not a product.”

—Matthew Schwartz

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