Study Shows Teams Hit Hard by Job Losses Expect Recovery

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A new annual study shows while some media sales/​executive managers are optimistic about emerging from the COVID-​19 pandemic in the next 30–60 days, the pressures of the coronavirus and sales environment are creating nearly historic levels of unhappiness and potential churn for media sales teams. This is likely because the ad industry was hit hard by job losses this year.

These are just some of the findings in SalesFuel’s “2020 State of Media Sales” Study. SalesFuel, a leading firm of sales, marketing, and management strategists, surveyed 820 self-​identified media sales professionals in mid-​April 2020 about the past year and current, unusual conditions. The results are a real-​time eye opener to the current snapshot of the media sales environment.


About 35% of sales managers believe their April revenue drop will exceed 50%. For March 2020, 33% of sales managers expected a 20%-50% hit to revenue. Digital media sellers, those with revenues streams of more than 50% from digital formats, were gloomiest about March with 46% anticipating a 20%-50% hit to revenue that month after being hit hard by job losses. Keep in mind that the average media property counts on digital for about 30% of revenue overall. Significant data points about recovery from COVID-​19 include:

  • 21% of respondents expect the economy to begin to recover in June.
  • 18% say July and 16% say 2021. 
  • At least 21% of print sellers say they don’t expect to see the economic recovery until 2021.
  • For digital media selling, 24% also believe recovery won’t start until 2021. 

Current State of Media Sales Professionals

April’s study data shows managers must be alert to rep frustration and stagnation. The data, some of it showing extreme job dissatisfaction, points to a possible upcoming “brain drain” and exodus out of the space. Significant data points include:

  • 45% of media sales managers voiced their concern about a lack of general sales talent or competency. Digital sales managers, with a score of 58%, are particularly concerned about this topic.
  • Some of motivational problems may stem from reps’ belief that it is harder to get new business (81%) or upsell existing accounts (70%) than it was last year. 
  • About 57% of media sales professionals say with complete confidence (a score of 9 or 10 on a scale of 1 to 10) that they will be working for the same organization 6 months from now. In the print and direct mail sectors, areas that may have been hit hard by job losses, those numbers are 43% and 41%, respectively.
  • Average Net Promoter scores for current employers are at 15.85 but for print and direct mail organizations the numbers are shocking at -15.4 and ‑5.48, highlighting the need for increased manager outreach coaching.
  • Millennials are struggling. 69% of millennial managers are having trouble motivating their team members, versus 57% of all sales managers.  

SalesFuel CEO C. Lee Smith says “What this shows us is coaching amid coronavirus needs to be greatly stepped up to retain talent and any new hires? You simply cannot afford to get those wrong given the conditions.”

For more data on study results on opportunities by vertical, communication style challenges in prospecting, upselling and more, download our “2020 State of Media Sales Study” Special Report HERE