Having all of your program book advertiser accounts closed on a timely basis is a very important part of your advertising sales canvas. But sometimes loss accounts can become a problem. And now is usually the time where you could start to see a lot of loss being dumped if you’re not managing your program book canvas properly.

By cleaning up your program book market, I’m referring to making sure none of your program book reps are holding onto loss. You may have heard this before, but never quite understood the importance.

Having your reps hold onto loss will kill your market quicker than you think.

Holding onto loss is simply when one (or more) of your program book reps know an account is coming out (cancelling their advertising), but they hold onto it instead of acknowledging the loss and turning it in.

They do this because they’re hoping that they will sell a new account to cover this loss. But the danger comes if they never sell that new account. So what do they do? They hold onto it.

Meanwhile your program book sales manager is looking at the sales reports. They see all the renewals from last season still not closed yet, and they are thinking that these will eventually come in. But then the shoe drops, and suddenly they’re looking at a big loss in their program book market.

The way to avoid your program book advertising reps surprising you at the end is to manage the loss throughout the sales canvas, and also build it into their compensation plan.

All of our program book sales reps at Onstage Publications are gauged on many different measurements, and loss is one of them. They need to maintain a certain percentage of loss. Loss accounts are inevitable in any program book market, so this needs to be considered. We like to hold our loss at no more than 15-20% during any one season.

There will always be markets that will have more or less loss in them than our target of 15-20%, but our experience has shown this to be a good gauge.

It the market is experiencing more than our 15-20% benchmark, we can be pro-active so that we’re not coming in flat footed. On the flip side, if we are seeing less loss than our 15-20% target, we dig a little deeper to see if there is anything that we can learn and implement this in other markets.

Another benefit of getting your loss closed in a timely manner is the chance to re-service these accounts. This is when you go back to the now previous advertiser, and offer them a smaller program book ad so they don’t lose a year of representation in the program book. Many times, you may have caught the advertiser on a bad day, but when you re-contact them, they’re willing to take another look. A smaller piece of the pie is better than no pie at all! Good selling.

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