Business information written specifically for newspaper advertising departments

The Secret to Adapting to the Digital Era

Whether you’re managing a team of print sales reps or one entirely dedicated to the digital realm, there are still foundational skills every manager needs to keep their staff productive and satisfied in their work.


There has been quite a bit of a time spent discussing the way the industry is changing. Namely, the changes in technology that are affecting how newspapers advertise and how sales representatives sell those advertisements. I am not disputing the fact that the industry needs to accommodate the digital era, however, in an industry where change is mandatory; some things should remain constant, especially sales management skills.

Whether you’re managing a team of print sales reps or one entirely dedicated to the digital realm, there are still foundational skills every manager needs to keep their staff productive and satisfied in their work. There is something to be said for the practices that worked 50 years ago, because with or without the Internet and mobile apps, those 50-year-old management techniques remain as applicable as ever.

Below are four important practices all sales managers should develop and maintain. They transcend time and the ever-changing landscape of the newspaper sales industry.


When there’s an opening in your staff, decide early what qualities and experience are necessary in an employee in order to fill the position. Make your hiring expectations clear and concrete before you even start the interviewing process. That way, when you’re looking through résumés, you will know which ones to weed out. Additionally, when you do sit down for the first interviews, you will know exactly who is needed to fill out the team effectively. Don’t settle for less than your expectations, otherwise the way the staff functions will suffer sooner rather than later.

Training and Team Building

Once you have all of the employees you need, it is time to develop your team so that they work seamlessly both as individuals and as a team. Training is essential to achieving this, both in new and existing employees. New employees won’t be as effective if you don’t set up clear expectations and guidelines. If you fail to set the standards for their short-term and long-term projects, they won’t meet them. Likewise, once an employee is settled, don’t leave them to rest on their laurels. This isn’t so much training, as checking-in to make sure they are engaged in their work in order to sustain efficiency in the office. On the other hand, don’t let check-ins turn into micro-management. Employees don’t want to feel as though their manager does not trust them with their work.

Once employees are aware of what is expected of them as individuals, you must also promote work ethic in teams. Make sure your team of sales people works comfortably and cohesively together. If one person has an issue with the rest of the team, it will have a snowball effect and prevent them from reaching their goals. Stress equal importance on sales teams so employees know their responsibilities don’t just fall on them as individuals. Create open communication, so when a problem arises, employees feel free to discuss it so any issues can be resolved.


Organization is key to the success of any office. You have set expectations and responsibilities for all of your employees, now you must clarify the tasks requested of them. If an employee is feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work they have on their desk, sit down and talk about it with them. Have an open dialogue about prioritizing their work, so you both have a say in how and when things are accomplished.

Delegation is also a crucial part of organization. If one employee seems to be carrying all the weight, it’s time to distribute those tasks more evenly amongst the team. After all, you built a team for the diversity of approaches and perspectives, so make sure you are taking advantage of that

Communication and Feedback

There is one managerial skill that is absolutely necessary for all of the previous techniques to work successfully, and that is communication. If there is a lapse in the chain of communication in the office, there will inevitably be misunderstandings and mistakes ahead. As a manager, you need to make sure your staff feels comfortable enough to speak to each other. If there is a problem within teams, they must also feel comfortable enough to speak to you about it in order for it to be resolved. If things go unsaid, issues amidst the staff will build up and eventually become a much larger problem down the line.

In addition to open communication to ensure office functionality, feedback is also essential. You have ideally set up a structure where your employees are receiving feedback on their performance, but also make sure you are asking them for feedback on your own performance as a manager. Constructive criticism goes a long way in making improvements in the day-to-day of the office. If your managerial style seems to be falling flat, ask for a response from employees. They may very well have the solutions and advice you need to get your office running efficiently in order to make those sales.