Business information written specifically for newspaper advertising departments

A Day in the Life of a Sales Rep: Trevor Malkoske

A typical day in the life of Western Producer Publications' advertising consultant, Trevor Malkoske
I’m a territorial sales rep responsible for managing, growing, and providing solutions for a client base in northeastern Saskatchewan, as well as half of Saskatoon in Western Canada (a geographical area about the size of North Dakota). In addition to selling advertising solutions (classified display and ROP) in the weekly paper, we have a full online and mobile offering.

Please tell me about yourself.

My official job title is advertising consultant. I’m a territorial sales rep responsible for managing, growing, and providing solutions for a client base in northeastern Saskatchewan, as well as half of Saskatoon in Western Canada (a geographical area about the size of North Dakota). In addition to selling advertising solutions (classified display and ROP) in the weekly paper, we have a full online and mobile offering. We also provide custom print solutions...I work out of head office in Saskatoon, SK, but, obviously, don’t spend a lot of time there due to the size of the area I’m responsible for.

What made you get into this line of work?  
I actually got into it by accident. I have an economics degree with a background in silviculture (forestry) and agriculture. I grew up on a small beef farm. I was working as a GIS technician (digital mapping) when I retrained as a computer analyst programmer. I hated the programming part but enjoyed providing solutions to people with their home computers/business computers, networking, etc. I got my first job selling computers and networking solutions back in 1998. The rest is history.

Please describe your typical day at as a sales rep.
As a senior rep with a large territory and a large diverse client base, one thing is consistent—there are no typical days. I plan my days based on a weekly cycle because we are a weekly publication. Thursdays are press deadline days, Fridays are press days. Typically, Fridays are spent in the office processing and completing ad bookings and finalizing ad copy. Thursday afternoons are spent booking late ads and making sure all ad copy is in. Monday through Thursday noon are peak selling days where I try to be out of the office as much as possible, visiting clients and potential clients.

I actually got into it by accident...I got my first job selling computers and networking solutions back in 1998. The rest is history.”

I work with a flexible schedule. A typical day will start in my home office around 7 a.m. sending out e-mails. Then I’ll plan a travel route, develop a call list or build presentations. By 8 a.m., I am getting kids off to school and myself off to work. If I’m heading out of town, I won’t even check into my business office. I try to spend as much time in the field during the day as possible. Some weeks, due to weather or scheduling, being in the field isn’t possible, so I try to e-mail and talk to clients on the phone. The geography of Saskatchewan and the long distances between businesses make it difficult to always be face to face, so conference calling, e-mailing, and Blackberry use are critical in this day and age of doing more with fewer people. After 5 p.m., I’m usually spending time with my family. I usually don’t concentrate on any work stuff until after 9:30 p.m., if necessary. Sometimes, I’ll plan for the next day, reply to some non-essential e-mail, or work on professional development or research. As you can tell, my work and non-work schedules are blended into one. My Blackberry is always with me and I try to mirror my workdays as my clients do. The one exception is my Blackberry turns off at 11 p.m. and doesn’t turn on until 6:30 a.m. It may seem like long hours and, yes, sometimes it is, but unlike someone with fixed office times, I can work my schedule around family and clients’ needs.

How do your print and online sales differ?
Print and online advertising sales differ in the way they are packaged. Print is something a customer can touch and feel, it’s more tangible and familiar. Online is sold more like an electronic media, like radio or television. Online ads normally run more frequently, branding strategies are a good idea and integration with other media are much more important. It’s much more of a long-term consultative approach than a price and item type ad. Because the online product is much newer to most people, it takes them longer to get comfortable with the idea and the proposals I present. Most of my longer term-type proposals use an integrated online and print approach. That seems to be more successful than promoting the standalone online product, although in time I’m confident I will have online-only customers.

How do you build a rapport?
Rapport with clients takes time and consistency. Every touch point, either a face-to-face call, phone, or e-mail, has to build trust and respect. I try very hard not to waste my client’s time and to try to get to know more about them and their business with every visit. I use gifts on special occasions or to help promote their business events or their favorite charities. 



What advice do you have for new sales reps?
Patience and work ethic. Even in today’s businesses, where people are stretched thin and everything is very competitive and extremely plugged-in digitally, people will always buy from people. Working hard for the best interests of your client and making it easier for them to deal, work, and inevitably buy from you is the key to success. Solutions, ideas, honesty, integrity provide value and sell themselves, packages don’t. 


How has the job changed?
Since I’ve started at The Western Producer, my client base has become more dispersed and sophisticated. My clients are tending to think more long term and I usually net more dollars per client. Clients are much busier, have less time for face-to-face meetings, so making the most of their time really counts. Everyone’s workday seems to be a little less conventional, there are very few people who are truly 9 to 5 anymore, so I’ve had to change with them. Technology has changed rapidly since my first smartphone over four years ago. Very few people use a fax machine and most preliminary communication is actually by e-mail now.

Describe a successful or challenging pitch.
A few months ago, I presented a large multilevel annual campaign including online and print to an existing customer who operates an events facility. We proposed to design, publish, and distribute a customized trade show guide for one of their events, which we currently do not produce for them. It was new business and it allowed me the opportunity to research and design a new product proposal and enhance my relationship with the client. Although in the end I didn’t win the new show guide business for this year, I improved my business relationship with the customer and obtained valuable leads that will help me be successful next time around. Sometimes you learn more from losing the deal and the information obtained and lessons learned always help with future opportunities.