NEWS ANALYSIS: How will the title teams fare under the central generals? Colin Grimshaw examines the new sales regimes at IPC and Emap Elan

IPC and Emap Elan have announced plans for central sales functions and the consequences for individual magazine teams are still being digested.

IPC and Emap Elan have announced plans for central sales functions

and the consequences for individual magazine teams are still being


The news that responsibility for selling the biggest accounts in your

magazine is to be taken from you must come as a shock. So how do

publishers manage the potential for internal conflict and are the title

teams’ concerns valid?

The key to averting such conflicts is ’interdependency’ says Tim Lucas,

corporate business development director at the National Magazine

Company, where a centralised sales unit has been in operation for the

past five years.

’You need to have a collegiate approach which involves both brand

specific and central teams selling the account, otherwise it will fail,’

he explains.

IPC group ad director Simon Hills agrees and he stresses the importance

of communication between the central and title teams. He’s doing a fair

bit of communicating himself at the moment, trying to reassure nervous

title teams who are asking why he is taking away all their big


’The Connect team might do a pounds 500,000 deal but we’re not going to

take the account away from them because it has reached a certain size,’

says Hills. ’Central sales is not about creaming off all the big


Sales people also need to know their finances are not going to suffer.

At NatMags, commission is earned by both central and title teams on the

same business, irrespective of who sells it. Commission on IPC’s 11

largest accounts will be earned solely by central sales but the bonus

scheme for the title teams is being revised to take account of this and

Hills insists no-one will lose out. ’Our new incentive scheme will

ensure people are only bonused on what they are accountable for,’ he


Both Lucas and Hills stress that title teams still have an important

selling role on the big accounts and, freed from price negotiation, can

spend more time pitching their brands’ strengths and offering innovative

marketing solutions.

So, apart from negotiating group contracts and prices, what role does

the central sales team have?

’Unlike title teams who are engrossed in closing each monthly issue,

central sales can make a more long-term strategic argument to clients,’

explains Lucas. The role is more comparable to an agency planner and

it’s perhaps no coincidence that both Lucas and his group development

head, Melanie Leathers, have come to central sales from agencies.

However, he stresses the need for a balance.

’If you just had planners in your team, you would sorely miss the sales

discipline,’ says Lucas.

Niall Clarkson has just made the move to IPC’s central sales from the

women’s weeklies team. The chance to make decisions at a strategic level

attracted him. He says: ’At this level, you need to understand the

strengths and weaknesses of all media. A career track from here could

take you to an agency or perhaps other media.’


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