The 2021 State of Media Sales report, published by SalesFuel in conjunction with BIA, includes responses from 394 media salespeople working in all areas of broadcast. The objective of the survey was to discern trends and gauge optimism and challenges for those salespeople.

Because this represents most of our customers, we wanted to review the report and provide context for media sales professionals.

Industries Seeing Gains

The report goes into several specifics around industries that are increasing spend despite the challenges regarding COVID-19 and other economic fallout. The survey found increases in these verticals:

Recruitment: Sellers expect employment sales revenue to increase over 2020, with the most optimism for over-the-air TV and digital. It was the leading vertical for growth.

Local services: Sellers expect it to be 45% greater than 2020 numbers.

Entertainment: Sellers expect it to also increase by 45% over 2020.

Retail: It’s rebounding from 2020, with the most optimism from digital sellers.

Government and nonprofit (excluding political): There is only a 29% growth anticipation by salespeople.

Auto dealerships: Sellers had the least optimism here, at only 19%. This industry is also having supply chain and inventory issues.

Health care: The sector had increases pre-pandemic, and salespeople expect it to keep going up. For hospitals, salespeople in over-the-air TV, cable TV and digital expect the most significant gains. For medical clinics, digital sellers have the most confidence.

Hiring Salespeople Is Harder, and They Are Leaving the Industry

Most in the industry agree it’s hard to find talent. For sellers in all categories, 78% say it’s much more difficult than in previous years. That view was even greater for digital. With digital being the hardest to place, media companies can consider upskilling existing employees with digital sales training so they can sell across channels.

Hiring those with a good foundation of business skills and then investing in their digital sales literacy is another option. If companies want to build a new workforce, they’ll have to expand outside their traditional requirements.

Overall, the retention rate for sales in 2020 was 73%. However, the NPS (net promoter score), which measures a salesperson’s job satisfaction , dropped to 4, from 16 in 2020. That indicates that many could be leaving. The survey also revealed that 23.9% plan to leave their role by August 2022 voluntarily.

Media companies should be aware of this for two reasons. First, they’ll need to jumpstart recruiting. Second, there may be time to retain those who want to leave.

The Pandemic Is Still Impacting How Sellers Sell

The pandemic changed the way the world buys and sells. The survey asked sales professionals how they connect with prospects and customers. Here are some key findings:


of salespeople engage in person for 20% or less of their calls.


of salespeople don’t use email at all.


of salespeople use video chat for 20% or less of their contacts.


of salespeople use SMS or texting for 20% or less of their connections.


of salespeople don’t use social selling.

Based on this information, sales professionals have a significant opportunity to re-engage or make the first touch through email marketing, which routinely outperforms calling. Further, social selling has a low adoption rate, which means savvy media sales professionals could leverage this to differentiate themselves from others.

Are You Optimistic, Challenged or Both?

Every organization is unique, but this report shows how the industry feels about the year ahead. You may feel optimistic, challenged or both regarding the topic. Ultimately, building a sales team and their skill sets is critical to their success and the company’s.

If you have questions about sales enablement resources for your team, check out the tools and training we offer

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