Sales Team of the Year

By The Drum, Administrator

March 14, 2003 | 9 min read

Traditionally, March is renowned for St Patrick’s Day, a celebration of all things Irish and a very valid excuse to drink copious amounts of Guinness and then fall over. In the media industry, however, the month is also becoming synonymous with another major event: The Marketeer’s Media Sales Team of the Year.

Every year the sales teams of the North sweat it out while their media agency counterparts are quizzed on whom they rate across a range of criteria. And every year the tables published over the following pages are scanned, re-scanned and then praised and cursed, maybe in equal measure.

This year heralds the crowning of a new Sales Team of the Year, in the form of Carlton Media Sales, a win that could not be more timely for the team, given the proposed merger of Carlton with fellow ITV company Granada. With the merger approaching, the Carlton team has clearly been pulling out all the stops when it comes to impressing the North’s buyers, as is evidenced here by not only leaping up the TV table, but managing to beat the teams in all other tables as well.

On winning the title of Sales Team of the Year, James Rice, regional sales director, said: “This is great news and a real endorsement of the Carlton team in Manchester. In truth, it's been a particularly challenging year for ITV and we've had to stay very focused as a sales operation and, whilst we've enjoyed a record sales year, it's especially gratifying to have our efforts acknowledged in this way by our customers. We've a great team of people in the Manchester office, very professional, very enthusiastic and a privilege to work with. I've always thought so and I'm pleased our customers think so as well. Thanks to those who voted for us.”

The Sales Team research underwent a few tweaks this year in the interest of gaining the most accurate measure of the industry possible. For the first time buyers were asked to rate sales teams in the areas of Understanding Client Needs and Negotiation Skills as well as the established fields of Innovation and Overall Professionalism. Each team was given a score out of ten in each field and an average was then taken across all fields to provide an overall score. As with previous years, the research was conducted by market research firm Quaestor Research and Marketing, who contacted a list of media buyers supplied by agency managing directors earlier this year.

This year’s tables combine continued success from last year with both improved and worse performances.

Congratulations to all the teams who improved on last year. To those that didn’t ... at least there’s still St Patrick’s Day.

National Press Display

The Telegraph Group is the first team in this year’s review to retain its title from last year. Owing primarily to a very strong performance in the Professionalism category the Telegraph has managed to keep the Financial Times at bay this year, though only just. The FT has this year pulled off a massive improvement on 2002’s performance, when the team failed to qualify in the Top Five Display table. A strong score over Professionalism, Understanding Client Needs and Negotiation skills has established a clear lead on the Metro team in third place, let down only by a slightly weaker score for Innovation. The Mail on Sunday and Guardian & Observer teams have both dropped a little on this year’s table, with low Innovation scores keeping both at the bottom end of the Display table. Conspicuous by their absence in the National Press Display category this year are Mirror Group Newspapers, the Daily Mail and News International, all of whom failed to score high enough to qualify for the finalist table.

National Press Classified

The Mail on Sunday team has managed a jump up this year’s Classified table from third place last year to the top branch in 2003. The Guardian & Observer team takes second place, with a particularly high score in the Professionalism category, while the Daily Mail drops from second place in the 2002 review to third this time round. Despite impressing Northern buyers with its professionalism, the Daily Mail team visibly lags behind on the Negotiation score. The Telegraph, meanwhile, has scored well in the Professionalism and Understanding Client Needs categories but is let down by a poor score for Innovation.

Regional Press

A first on the Regional Press table this year sees independent sales houses Media Link and Media Sales Network take the top two spots. Media Link, which handles national sales for the Evening Standard, received most praise for its Negotiation Skills while MSN, representative for the Belfast Telegraph, scored well for Professionalism.

In third place the newly bolstered Mediaforce team, which now handles sales for all of the Regional Independent Media titles, following RIM’s takeover by Johnson Press, has managed a climb into the Regional Press table this year. The team’s professionalism was its main strength, with respectable scores being achieved across all other categories. The Manchester Evening News team, in fourth place, has turned in a mixed-bag of a performance this year. On one hand, the team has achieved one of the highest scores in the review with an 8.1 for its considerable negotiation skills while, on the other, receiving 5.7 in Understanding Client Needs and Innovation.


BBC Magazines takes home the Magazine Sales Team trophy for the second year in a row, meaning the team has won the entire time it has been operational in Manchester. David Downs, Northern sales manager for BBC Magazines, explains: “I've got a superb team and we try to deliver the highest level of service and innovation. One thing we feel is important is to do exactly what we say we are going to do when we say we're going to do it. We also try to be as visible as possible both professionally, within agencies, and socially at industry dos.”

Impressive scores across most categories lagged slightly when it came to Negotiation Skills, but proved strong enough to force IPC and National Magazines down to joint second place. V Media is a new addition to the Sales Team of the Year this year and turns in a strong performance, securing fourth place on the Magazine table.

Media Sales Network comes in fifth for the representation of the Emap magazine stable. Other companies mentioned included Media Representation Company/Mediaforce and Conde Nast.


Viacom has managed to retain its grasp on the top Outdoor spot this year, and has managed to force JC Decaux down into second place to boot. Last year both teams came joint first, but in this year’s review Viacom was clear winner across all categories except Negotiation Skills, where Decaux has shown particular strength. Viacom regional sales manager Katrina Hutchison said: “In the last twelve months we have successfully focused on trying to get some new business on board, as well as working hard across the board to apply a business approach to the way we operate by knowing our agencies and specialist business. Combined, we work well as a team and aim to do the best we can at all times.”

Maiden takes third place with a big improvement on last year, when the team failed to make the top five.


Carlton Media Sales have reason to be very proud of themselves this year. A strong performance across Professionalism, Understanding Client Needs and Negotiation Skills helped depose last year’s champion, Channel 4, and secure not only the TV Sales Team of the Year but the overall title of Sales Team of the Year 2003. Nevertheless, it was a strong performance from Channel 4 which secured the runner-up place on the Television table while, further down, Granada pushes its way up two places to third place and BSkyB and Channel 5 drop to fourth and fifth respectively.


Another year, another Radio Sales Team award for Capital. Last year the company shared the top spot with Chrysalis Radio, but this year the Northern branch of the country’s biggest commercial radio group has gone it alone. Coming out top of an extremely competitive Radio table, Capital was fighting a running battle with Opus, who narrowly missed out on the Radio Sales Team title this year. Deborah Meek, regional sales director for Capital Radio says: “Change is an inevitable part of business life, and we did see changes across the company last year. It's testament to the quality of the team that they remained positive and focused on our business throughout last year's changes. But it's all about how you see it. Capital people see the glass half full.”

Media Personality

This year the accolade of Media Sales Personality goes to Carlton’s Nick Mullins. Regional account manager Mullins garnered the most votes from the Northern media fraternity, a further success for the Carlton team that’s had such an impact on this year’s Sales Team research.

Mullins began his media career working in ITV sales in London in the late 1980s before migrating north to Scotland where he spent a six-year stint at Faulds. Three years ago he moved to Manchester to join the Carlton team. When asked why he thinks Northern buyers voted him Personality of the Year, Mullins replied: “I’d like to think it was because of client service, that I get back reasonably promptly and with the information that agencies and clients need.”

And as for the next twelve months, Mullins wishes for more of the same: “I think for the next 12 months the goal for us is to keep up the same level of service to our clients while we wait for the ITV sales picture to clear later this year. And also for West Ham to stay in the Premiership!”


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