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February 11, 2021

Why Many Ad Sales Executives Are Lax In Optimizing CRM

Jill Dignan

As tenured consultants in the CRM for media space, we are all too familiar with technology indifference at the executive level. There are a range of reasons why this is all too prominent, particularly in ad sales.

Five reasons why ad sales executives may be lax in optimizing CRM:

  1. Ad sales organizations typically have a history and culture of creative dominance where a more disciplined process and systems-based approach may not always be as valued.

  2. Ad sales organizations may have a predominance of more “old school” sellers who have risen the ranks independently “without needing a CRM system” to succeed.

  3. Some ad sales executives may fear that forcing top sellers to leverage a CRM may prompt them to leave the company.

  4. The ad sales industry in general is somewhat frenetic and more traditionally reactive, where agencies constantly push the limits of rapid RFP turnaround times, leaving little time to slow down the process with CRM data entry requirements.

  5. Ad sales has been trending toward more transactional buying behavior, particularly given the growth of programmatic ad buying platforms, leaving many wondering how and where CRM really fits in.

As consultants, we’ve patiently listened for years to well-intentioned explanations. In the end, it’s up to each and every media executive and ad sales organization to make a choice: continue down a path where ad sellers and management can choose, at their discretion, whether to provide transparency and accountability in a consistent manner, or make a conscious decision to set a higher, but reasonable, bar in the interest of running a more productive and profitable company. We believe, however, that the future viability of ad sales organizations across any segment will largely favor organizations who have committed to resolving operational inefficiencies around people, process, platforms, and data over a sustained period of time.

Running a highly successful advertising sales organization has its challenges. Chief revenue officers, by nature, typically are not inclined to invest in activities that are perceived to slow down or hinder their seller’ performance. CROs and other tenured sales executives will say, and we would not disagree, that revenue is the lifeblood of a company. Oftentimes a CRO’s success, however, has not been attributed historically to adoption of systems or established processes. Instead, they have relied upon leveraging long standing relationships with advertisers and agencies, working in a crafty manner to get IOs in the door, and ensuring their top sellers are happy and remain within the organization—until it no longer works.

It is our opinion that media operations executives will play a critical role in the long-term health of ad sales organizations. Combining a business transformation framework spanning people, process, platforms, and data with a commitment to leveraging a best-in-class CRM system such as Salesforce is a proven recipe for success. Careful analysis of the prospect-to-cash flow, then breaking it down into sub-flows, and determining how to best optimize those flows using systems, will be necessary to realize gains. Multiple systems spanning marketing automation, CRM, OMS, ad serving, print production, BI, and others will need to be tied together with a coherent Cloud architecture strategy. Data cleansing will be imminent as will new data governance policies. Refinement of roles and responsibilities, especially as it pertains to data entry and upkeep, will be necessary.

It’s a tall task, but there's light at the end of the tunnel. We’ve seen clients embark on this journey and realize measurable results within a reasonable time frame. But transformation does not happen overnight; it undoubtedly takes time, a commitment of resources and perhaps, most importantly, a willingness to be resolute and confident when your organization is resistant to change. Others have done it, so can you.

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Jill Dignan

Jill Dignan

Jill Dignan has over 10 years of consulting experience running large-scale transformation projects in media and other industries. During her tenure at V2, she has developed a passion for process improvement and change management. Jill has helped clients in and outside of media devise winning strategies around process improvement, architecture, design, data, and integration. She currently serves as CGO of V2.