Setting Goals and the Standards for Their Achievement
by Chuck Nau
In this ongoing economic uncertainty, staying focused, committed and upbeat continues to be
an everyday challenge for your sales staﬀ. Coupled with the ongoing eﬀorts to retain client and
ad dollar commitments, your staﬀ’s self-confidence and solid footing may be easily undermined
and on shaky ground. How can you best help them and in the process help your newspaper and
Consider pausing for moment, stepping back and disconnecting from the constant flow of
information, and taking a renewed look at your sales staﬀ. No matter the size or the experience
of your staﬀ, your people will want to know how they're doing, where they stand. Are they doing
well? How can you tell when and how it needs to be better?
• Where Are You? Identify what you have on hand, today. Carefully review your sales staﬀ,
assessing their strengths, weaknesses, and various talents in relation to your current market
positions. What support systems are in place, both within the sales department and within the
entire newspaper? What rate programs and products currently exist? Which of them are
growing? Which are shrinking? What are your newspaper product's individual strongest selling
points? What's your overall competitive advantage? What do you do better than other media in
• Where Do You Want To Be? What are your newspaper's objectives, in terms of sales, sales
team growth and overall market expertise, both short term and long term? What opportunities,
threats, or obstacles lie in your sales staﬀ’s path? How do you envision further developing your
individual sales people, your staﬀ overall, yourself and newspaper? New rate programs? New
products? Is there another segment of the population or market (social media? mobile?) you
would like to develop or enhance? Identify what is missing between where you are and where
you want to be.
• What Needs to Happen? What must occur to move you from where you are to where you want
to be? Enhancing your web site? Contacting and selling a larger number of small retailers, service
providers, or businesses? Launching a new niche product? Establishing a quarterly sales training
program? Will enhancing available resources generate the results desired? Making a part time
sales support position full time? Or do new resources and support systems need to be identified,
designed and implemented? What benchmarks need to be put in place to identify desired
outcomes and results that move you toward your short term or long term goals? What red flags
or midcourse adjustments need to be identified to assure success, reduce unexpected slow downs
and prevent failure?
• Measure and Reward. Are your benchmarks clearly defined as measurements for attaining or
not attaining your newspaper's objectives? Are they challenging but not impossible? Are they fair
and equitable? Has your sales staﬀ been asked and encourage for some input? Careful!! Do not
clutter your measurements of success with unimportant parameters. Will monthly revenue goals,
special section lineage goals, or quarterly 'team' achievements be your sales benchmark or should
you develop other criteria? How will your support teams and non-revenue teams be able to
measure successful goal achievement? Are you measuring what you want to accomplish?
Likewise, are you rewarding your sales staﬀ on desired outcomes (95% or better goal
attainment) in a timely and consistent fashion? Do your rewards allow for continued growth and
achievement (sell more, earn more)? Do your rewards also take into account excellent customer
service, reduced sales adjustments, new creative ideas/strategies, and individual personal career
growth in addition to revenue goal attainment?
• Eyes To See, Ears To Hear. Do you continue to fine tune, enhance and develop your resources?
Do you encourage your sales staﬀ to ask their advertising clients how your newspaper and its
various products might consider and subsequently implement ongoing changes to meet their
(your advertising clients) needs and those of your market? Are you listening to your sales staﬀ to
tell you what you can do to fine tune, enhance, and grow the newspaper?
More importantly, are you asking your staﬀ what needs to be done to enhance their success, both
internally (systems and environment) and externally (training, sales tools, resources)? Do you
continually observe the way your goals are achieved in order to prepare for forming new goals
and objectives, so that you can continue the process of growth and development at your
newspaper in the future?
• Give Honest Feedback. Tell your sales staﬀ how they are doing, sharing equally in success and
failure, on a timely and consistent basis. Communicate to them so they can understand where you
are, where you want to be, and how you are going to get there. Encourage and support them as
you implement midcourse corrections to keep on target. Support an open dialogue for ideas,
suggestions, and observations. Let them know when they have arrived.
Your sales staﬀ needs appropriate, carefully considered benchmarks to measure their
achievement, thereby giving them an opportunity to make adjustment to their sales eﬀorts
quickly and responsibly by themselves or with assistance from you and your management team.
Setting appropriate, well-thought out "points of reference" enables you to measure sales staﬀ
performance and the progress being made towards the achievement of those goals. Clear and
well-developed benchmarks help you and your staﬀ stay focused on the "big picture" and on track
and on time to achieve it. Good luck!
© Murray & Nau, Inc.
© Murray & Nau, Inc. Chuck Nau of Murray & Nau, Inc. is a Seattle area based publishing
consultant and sales and management trainer. He has been a speaker for and conducted
advertising, marketing, management and sales training workshops with newspapers, niche
publishers, publishing groups and press associations, throughout North America.
Comments and questions are welcome and may be directed to Chuck via email:
[email protected]. or at (425) 603 - 0984.