The Training Test - Are media sales people getting the coaching they need? Mary Cowlett investigates

In the buoyant media market, where seasoned sales staff are at a premium, there has been much bickering about standards of training within the industry.

In the buoyant media market, where seasoned sales staff are at a

premium, there has been much bickering about standards of training

within the industry.



Media owners and agencies have been brought to task over their

commitment to developing core skills. However, media owners remain

convinced that they are the fall guys, funding talent and setting

standards that the rest of the industry fails to match.



’Media owners are the only ones investing in training,’ says Martin

Bowley, chief executive of Carlton Media Sales. ’They are not being

joined by other sectors of the business.’ And recent attendance figures

for the Advertising Association’s four-day Media Business course show

that media owners provided the bulk of delegates.



However, the AA and others - including the Media Circle and the Radio

Advertising Bureau - tend to provide broad-based training, which does

not necessarily meet everyone’s needs.



The industry is faced with huge demand for qualified staff at a time of

media expansion and fragmentation.While this has yet to prove a problem

for Guardian Newspapers, deputy ad director Stuart Taylor says: ’Young

graduates face a bewildering array of choices, from traditional media to

dotcoms.’



The temptation for smaller players looking to fill this skills gap -

particularly in the internet sector - is to poach ready-trained staff

from those companies that invest in developing their sales forces. But

the staff pool is finite and there is not enough talent to go round.



This raises the question of whether media owners should look outside the

industry for new blood. Some feel it is not a viable solution. ’Middle

managers are not brought in from different industries because the skills

needed to sell a can of baked beans are not necessarily transferable to

the media market,’ says Don Thomson, commercial director at

Chrysalis.



But if the skills shortage is to be addressed, this attitude will have

to change. ’People don’t tend to come into the industry at the middle

level, but increasingly we are looking for people with the right

transferable skills,’ says Sophie Hind of media headhunter Fox

Haynes.



Mirror Group Newspapers is benefiting from hiring rookies with broader

sales experience. ’The important thing is that people have the right

attitude and characteristics,’ says head of classified advertising Gina

Bradbury.



However, she admits it can take up to six months before such recruits

repay the company’s investment.



But experience of other industries could be a good thing. Most inhouse

trainers tend to have made the transition from the sales floor, which

means that while their product, brand and market knowledge is second to

none, training programmes can be driven by familiar but tired

techniques.



Mike Parker, Channel 4’s head of client and strategic sales, says: ’An

appraisal system that enables you to evaluate and then fulfil employees’

wishes is the answer.’ For too many media owners, training is neither a

centralised nor a dedicated function, and is not the responsibility of

the human resources department. Instead, staff development is delegated

to a senior sales executive with other responsibilities, perhaps leaving

new recruits feeling short-changed.





HOW’S YOUR TRAINING? WE ASK EIGHT MEDIA OWNERS





THE OBSERVER - THE GUARDIAN



WHAT DO YOUR INTERNAL COURSES COVER?



Guardian Newspapers



Company, product and territory knowledge, basic sales skills, job and

career planning. Understanding other areas of the business, strategic

selling, selling on the internet and strategic management skills.





WHAT ABOUT EXTERNAL COURSES?



These include the Advertising Association’s Media Business course, plus

bespoke training by industry experts on advanced negotiation,

presentation and management skills.





HOW MANY DAYS TRAINING A YEAR DOES A NEW RECRUIT GET?



Three weeks formal training plus on-the-job coaching.





WHAT ABOUT A PERSON WITH TWO OR MORE YEARS EXPERIENCE?



One to two weeks formal training, plus informal continuous training by

company and industry experts.





HOW DOES YOUR TRAINING COMPARE WITH THAT OF OTHER MEDIA OWNERS?



’I’m told that our training is regarded as some of the best in the

industry,’ says Viv Taylor, head of training, recruitment and

development.



’But that puts the onus on us to be ahead of the game, as you’re only as

good as your last initiative.’





THE STAFF VIEW



’The training and development tracks you through your career and

provides the tools for your role, in a well-tailored format,’ says

international business manager Simon Darragh.





MIRROR GROUP NEWSPAPERS



WHAT DO YOUR INTERNAL COURSES COVER?



They include basic sales training, negotiation and presentation skills,

product knowledge, internal systems and procedures, commercial

awareness, time management, competitive analysis and sector

training.





WHAT ABOUT EXTERNAL COURSES?



The most popular external courses are in supervisory skills, management

training and personal awareness.





HOW MANY DAYS TRAINING A YEAR DOES A NEW RECRUIT GET?



A minimum of 13 days in the training room, plus on-the-job, dual-call

training every six weeks.





WHAT ABOUT A PERSON WITH TWO OR MORE YEARS EXPERIENCE?



Four days a year on advanced account management or presentation

skills





HOW DOES YOUR TRAINING COMPARE WITH THAT OF OTHER MEDIA OWNERS?



With a dedicated inhouse training manager running its training and

development programme, the company feels it may be ahead of other

newspaper groups.





THE STAFF VIEW



’I’ve only been here three months but I’ve had nine days training

already,’ says classified sales executive Jawade Khan. ’What has been

particularly useful is the two-day workshop where we look at any

problems we’ve encountered and work out how to solve them.’



GRANADA MEDIASALES



WHAT DO YOUR INTERNAL COURSES COVER?



Sales negotiation and pitching, presentation and time management

techniques, extensive IT training on internal systems, plus ’number

crunching’ courses for working out rates and costs.





WHAT ABOUT EXTERNAL COURSES?



Current hot favourites include specialist presentation techniques using

the latest visual technology, new media and the future of

television.





HOW MANY DAYS TRAINING A YEAR DOES A NEW RECRUIT GET?



Around 100 days of formal and informal training - but this includes

extensive on-the-job coaching.





WHAT ABOUT A PERSON WITH TWO OR MORE YEARS EXPERIENCE?



Ten formal training days plus lunchtime and evening sessions on

sales-related topics.





HOW DOES YOUR TRAINING COMPARE WITH THAT OF OTHER MEDIA OWNERS?



Judging by the people that Granada takes on from other media owners, it

feels it is ’well ahead’. After a year’s employment, every member of

staff is given a Granada career guide to aid personal development.





THE STAFF VIEW



’Granada invests the time and effort to develop and motivate people at

all levels,’ says sales manager Caroline Mellor. ’And because a lot of

the initial training is done on a one-to-one basis, it means people

develop good relationships, where they are not afraid to ask

questions.’





CARLTON MEDIA SALES



WHAT DO YOUR INTERNAL COURSES COVER?



Induction courses on job-specific aspects as well as sales-related

functions such as planning, research and sponsorship.





WHAT ABOUT EXTERNAL COURSES?



Bespoke courses cover negotiation, communication and team-working

skills, including handling conflicts, assertiveness, time management and

presentation skills. External courses according to needs.





HOW MANY DAYS TRAINING A YEAR DOES A NEW RECRUIT GET?



’If you talk about days, then you’re in big trouble with your approach,’

says sales training manager Jo Morris. Most training is done on the job,

in partnership with a line manager. For the first three months this is

constant, from four to six months it reduces slightly.





WHAT ABOUT A PERSON WITH TWO OR MORE YEARS EXPERIENCE?



Around six to eight formal days, including a management development

workshop and the Media Business course run by the Advertising

Association.





HOW DOES YOUR TRAINING COMPARE WITH THAT OF OTHER MEDIA OWNERS?



Carlton feels that where others may take a prescriptive view, it takes a

more consultative coaching approach that focuses on individual

needs.





THE STAFF VIEW



’I find the bespoke courses especially useful as they understand the

nature of the job and are more rewarding. You get out of them what you

put in,’ says group head Emma Jones.





IPC MAGAZINES



WHAT DO YOUR INTERNAL COURSES COVER?



Courses range from basic telesales skills through account handling to

strategic business development skills for group advertising

directors.





WHAT ABOUT EXTERNAL COURSES?



All externally sourced training is tailored to the IPC culture, and

delivered by experts with experience of the fmcg, retail and service

industry sectors.





HOW MANY DAYS TRAINING A YEAR DOES A NEW RECRUIT GET?



A minimum of eight formal days plus a two-week induction, boosted by

informal breakfast or lunchtime sessions.





WHAT ABOUT A PERSON WITH TWO OR MORE YEARS EXPERIENCE?



A minimum of eight formal training days, plus ad-hoc sessions with key

speakers from across the business.





HOW DOES YOUR TRAINING COMPARE WITH THAT OF OTHER MEDIA OWNERS?



Over the past three years, IPC has moved its focus from simple media and

sales skills to developing a greater client focus. Now the emphasis is

on driving business partnerships by encouraging greater creativity and

innovation.





THE STAFF VIEW



Jean Christie, advertising controller of country and leisure media at

IPC, says: ’We are lucky because there is a complete framework of

training options to choose from, so it’s possible to develop a plan to

meet a particular individual’s needs.’





THE NATIONAL MAGAZINE COMPANY



WHAT DO YOUR INTERNAL COURSES COVER?



Basic selling skills, negotiation techniques, one-to-one presentation

coaching, evening seminars by industry experts and magazine training

days with agency and client personnel.





WHAT ABOUT EXTERNAL COURSES?



Advanced presentation skills, leadership programmes and the AA’s Media

Business course.





HOW MANY DAYS TRAINING A YEAR DOES A NEW RECRUIT GET?



Classified: 12 days plus informal training. Display: on-the-job training

for six months and whatever else is required.





WHAT ABOUT A PERSON WITH TWO OR MORE YEARS EXPERIENCE?



Depends on each individual’s skill levels and needs.





HOW DOES YOUR TRAINING COMPARE WITH THAT OF OTHER MEDIA OWNERS?



NatMags says it is the first general consumer publisher to be awarded

Investors in People status. 18 months ago it introduced a Competency

Framework for staff, indicating required standards for each job function

and a systematic route for career development.





THE STAFF VIEW



’You’re given a good grounding and speak to people more experienced than

yourself, which is reassuring,’ says Anna Jackson, display sales

executive on Company. ’NatMags establishes your training needs, the

parameters of your job and encourages you in the right direction.’





CAPITAL RADIO ADVERTISING



WHAT DO YOUR INTERNAL COURSES COVER?



Marketing, brand selling, maximising negotiations, planning, the

dynamics of radio and understanding internal research and credit control

systems.





WHAT ABOUT EXTERNAL COURSES?



In addition to the AA’s Media Business course, other options focus on

developing motivational skills and inspirational approaches to work,

including ’standing out from the crowd’ and ’building powerful

partnerships’.





HOW MANY DAYS TRAINING A YEAR DOES A NEW RECRUIT GET?



Ten days of external training and ten days attending internal courses,

plus on-the-job coaching.





WHAT ABOUT A PERSON WITH TWO OR MORE YEARS EXPERIENCE?



The same training as for new recruits, depending on their management

skills and needs.





HOW DOES YOUR TRAINING COMPARE WITH THAT OF OTHER MEDIA OWNERS?



Capital claims it is not concerned with what others are up to, but

believes in ’delivering training with attitude’ and driving personal

development with a needs analysis.





THE STAFF VIEW



’Capital has really worked with me to advance my career,’ says sales

coordinator Jackie Luff. ’I wouldn’t still be here after almost six

years if the company was not investing in my future.’





OPUS



WHAT DO YOUR INTERNAL COURSES COVER?



Team building, lateral thinking, pitching and negotiation skills, brand

building and understanding other areas of the business, plus technical

skills such as using the inhouse planning and booking systems.





WHAT ABOUT EXTERNAL COURSES?



Those on offer cover motivation, running a team, leadership trust,

creating new revenue and conducting staff appraisals. Opus sends staff

on the AA’s Media Business course and other training initiatives through

the Radio Advertising Bureau.





HOW MANY DAYS TRAINING A YEAR DOES A NEW RECRUIT GET?



20 days plus on-the-job training.





WHAT ABOUT A PERSON WITH TWO OR MORE YEARS EXPERIENCE?



20 days plus on-the-job training.





HOW DOES YOUR TRAINING COMPARE WITH THAT OF OTHER MEDIA OWNERS?



Opus feels that its internal offering is particularly strong. Usually

the staff receive training as part of a set project, integrating the

process of learning and using new skills.





THE STAFF VIEW



’So far the training has been helpful and varied,’ says Classic FM sales

executive Amy Beeton, who has been with the company since January.

’We’ve looked at reaching common goals on the sales floor and improved

internal communications with lots of cross-referencing between relevant

departments.’



Topics