Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Knight-Ridder Adopts Team Sales Concept

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Knight-Ridder Adopts Team Sales Concept

Article excerpt

In order to keep up with the everchanging needs of newspaper advertisers, Knight-Ridder is investing a lot of time and money to train its sales staffs and to reorganize the sales process.

Carol Weber, director of customer satisfaction/employee publications at Knight-Ridder, confirmed reports that Knight-Ridder is spending about $2.8 million to refocus its newspapers' sales forces, training them to deal with advertisers via a team approach.

Weber explained that the training, which is being developed internally, is not designed to merely give each paper a push in linage; instead, teams are being developed so they can work strategically with each advertiser.

"We're not just trying to sell. We're trying to make things work for the advertiser," said Weber.

Each team consists of members from the different departments that make an ad possible. For example, a team could consist of a sales representative, ad designer, and someone from production, all with access to someone in finance. The idea is that each team member gets to know its advertisers in full detail.

"From the sales process, through production, through getting bills right, there should be a team that really understands the advertiser," explained Weber.

All team members are being trained to better meet and suit their advertisers' needs in today's competitive market. For example, traditionally, when advertisers call in with concerns, they would have to speak with their individual sales rep/ account executive. And if that person is not available, the advertisers would have to wait. But if each team member is fully versed in the needs of their advertisers, he or she could take the call -- regardless of job title or position.

"All of these things are giving better service to the advertiser," Weber remarked.

Most of Knight-Ridder's training is going on in the field though some components are being trained at the headquarters. Weber speculated that it will take two and a half to three years to get sales teams at all of the Knight Ridder newspapers trained.

Knight-Ridder chose two newspaper sites to pilot its training: the Fort Wayne (Ind.) Newspapers and the Tallahassee (Fla.) Democrat. Both are past the initial training mode and have adopted the "team approach. …

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