Beyond the Horizon


Greetings, Earthlings:

The first quarter of every year inevitably finds me busily conducting training sessions all over our great country.  It often takes three flights and most of a day to “commute”, so that gives me lots of reading and thinking time.

Those thoughts end up here…

You have to read them…

Thanks for doing so!

How frequently do I bring up the EXPERIENCE subject?  Close to always.  Here’re two more:

1) This has happened two times recently.  A server at a terrific Dallas Italian restaurant and a bartender at a great watering hole in South Bend handed me their business card!  Has that happened to you?  That act subtly altered the “relationship”.  I’m not sure it would work everywhere but found it a very nice touch in these two situations.

2) While dining in a wonderful new, very authentic Italian restaurant in Providence (Sarto) I had the good fortune of meeting the owner/chef.  We talked restaurant marketing, wine, even how to make the incredible Rotolo appetizer I tried.  He was not only generous with his time but comped part of the meal, including a too-die-for dessert wine called Ben Ryé, Donna Fugata.  Yes, he got a fantastic Yelp review from me and I’ve talked about this experience a dozen times already and now you’re reading it.  People Matter…A LOT!

One of my fearless loyal readers regularly applauds or criticizes my “voice”.  By that, I think he means the tone I strike or the attitude, which comes across as I attempt to make a point…

…I would argue a newspaper should be the “voice” of their community.  It should reflect the attitude, values, concerns, hopes, aspirations and worries of those it serves. 

Do you agree?  Does your newspaper accomplish that?  I’d love to hear how?

Ponder this admittedly unfair blanket characterization –

For approximately two generations we’ve had the incredible luxury of NOT needing superb sales forces.  The industry has been marvelous at taking orders and managing accounts, but it has not systematically challenged customers or solved their problems.  Additionally, we have definitely NOT systematically prospected and pursued new categories!  However, my sense is that is ever-so-slowly changing.

Could it be the declining revenue of the last decade might have a silver lining?  At least, I think that’s true of the upper tier of newspaper reps. We still have too many “hangers on”, but the best sales executives are very skilled at taking the vastly expanded portfolio so many newspapers now go to market with and finding new and different strategies that can drive growth for our customers.   Thank Goodness!

Is it too little, too late?  We’ll see. 

What’s certain is that we must continue to remove the laggards from our sales teams!  I’m not talking fewer sales executives (there should be more!) but eliminating those who have not embraced our new realities.  Too many VP’s of Sales or Publisher’s are reluctant to jettison poor performers and that is unacceptable.  IF there’s a chance we’re going to bottom out and ever hope to start growing again having the right “feet-on-the-street” has to happen and NOW!

What makes me think we might be turning a corner?  I’ve done onsite training sessions and a handful of web versions so far this year.  Without exception, there’s been more enthusiasm, more willingness (dare I say eagerness?) to role-play, more questions and even a greater commitment to selling than I noted just six months ago.  Five first-hand experiences do not an industry make, but what if it is a trend? 

I choose to think positively.  As should you!

Let me leave you with one of the great chalkboard admonishments of all time – what do you think?
















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