Qualified prospects, CRM and invoices — all are words I’ve been surprised to find myself uttering this semester as I delve into the world of sales for the first time, with the launch of Capitol Hound.

Capitol Hound is a service that will offer searchable transcripts and alerts for the North Carolina General Assembly.

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Both of my parents work in sales and they once warned me that no matter the college or major, everybody ends up in sales. Slightly jaded as they may be, (neither aspired to become a salesperson) they aren’t far off. As a journalism and public policy major, I felt confident that money would be far from my arena of academics and work experience. After all, who in news media or government rakes in significant cash anyway?

profitability matters

But if I’ve learned anything from my time with Reese News Lab, it’s that money pervades almost all things worth doing. And if it doesn’t, it is our role as innovators to find a way to be profitable while providing an important service.

Too many journalists give their work away. Journalists are less adept at asking people to compensate them appropriately than someone with a business or finance degree. And publishers and companies often expect this free work and are unwilling to pay up because there are 10 more journalists willing to write free of charge. Journalists are often “compensated” for their work by exposure and the honor of being published. These intangible payments, however valuable, do not pay bills or feed said journalist. And it will require a tangible payment to become a subscriber of Capitol Hound for the upcoming short session of the General Assembly.

As we begin to sell subscriptions to Capitol Hound, I am learning previously foreign concepts about business and sales.

Having been a reporter for years, I am painfully familiar with cold calling — the one sales skill I’ve mastered. I have much experience tracking down sources who would prefer not to be found, so calling up a prospect who has never heard of Capitol Hound or Reese News Lab is pie. More daunting, however, is sitting down with people and asking for their money. I’ve learned that there is no shame in asking people for money when you are offering them value in the exchange. I hope this lesson will translate throughout my journalistic career, reminding me to value my own work and ask for due compensation.

My first sales meeting is scheduled for Friday. I will ask questions and listen to the answers. I will help the potential customer understand the value Capitol Hound offers. I will explain which problems a Capitol Hound subscription would alleviate for them. I’ll ask for the business, and then I will ask for a check.

Corinne Jurney is a junior Journalism and Public Policy double major at UNC. From Raleigh, she writes for the Daily Tar Heel and is a staffer for Reese News Lab in UNC’s journalism school. Corinne hopes to pursue a career in business journalism or law.

This post originally appeared on Reese News Lab.

reese2Reese News Lab is an experimental news and research project based at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The lab was established in 2010 with a gift from the estate of journalism school alum Reese Felts. We develop and test new ideas for the media industry. Undergraduate and graduate students learn about the state of the news industry, pitch product ideas, conduct user testing and develop prototypes. The staff of undergraduate and graduate students are required to document their work throughout their projects, compiling their research, results and recommendations on the viability of their product ideas.