Anna Podkowinska, Revenue Director for Internet Agora SA, and Marek Tretyn, General Director of Advertising Sales for Poland's Agora Group, discuss how they have organized a local sales team at Agora, which jointly sells their main daily, Gazeta Wyborcza, and Gazeta.pl, in addition to other online products.
Agora is one of the largest media groups in Poland. It publishes daily free and paid-for newspapers as well as magazines. The company owns a radio station, outdoor business, cinemas and more. Its flagship newspaper is Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland's largest quality daily, which has 4.3 million readers and sells 335,000 copies a day.
Mr. Tretyn says that in 2007, his local print sales team had 270 sales people, but by 2009, revenues had fallen and the sales team had to be cut to 211 people.
Around that time, the company also did a first trial cooperation between its print and digital sales teams.
The initial cooperation did not work for a variety of reasons, such as a lack of field management for digital sales and the digital salespeople's shallow customer relations when compared to the print team. However, Agora learned from the process and decided to build one team for print and digital.
Mr. Tretyn notes that this effort was started with 4,680 people-hours of training. On average, sales people had more than 30 hours of training and a final exam. Hundreds of coaching sessions were also undertaken.
A new motivational system was also implemented in 2011, in which sales team members were rewarded for reaching at least 80 percent of their print and/or digital goals. If they achieved both goals, they received an extra bonus, and a commission was paid after people reached 100 percent of their goal for either print or digital.
The results speak for themselves.
In 2009, Ms. Podkowinska says, the company sold digital offers to 995 customers. In 2010 that grew to 3,641 customers. In 2011 it was 9,598. And for 2012, she says they plan to double that number.
Mr. Tretyn says the sales team has increased to 230 people with 20 local branches and 21 sales managers.
Agora’s next project is the first premium local network in Poland, which will include 148 local publishers with 226 websites, which they are creating based on customers' needs. To help accomplish its goals, Agora is adding 54 sales people for better penetration.