Zero, nothing, certainly no more, and sometimes less. Zero is often the number you hear at this time of year when you find yourself in the heart of budget season. I am talking about zero expense growth from this year to next. That is the mandate from the corporate office or owners. In some cases, it is actually a negative number that comes down, meaning you again have to do more with less.
If you have been in the media sales business for the last five or six years, you survived September 2008 and the ensuing months of contraction in advertising spending due to the economy, and have probably realized that the growth that we were used to for many years in traditional media has evaporated. Add to this the rapid digital evolution that has many customers’ attention, focus, and budget, so real organic market growth has been very hard to come by.
You also can reasonably expect that along with the news of zero-growth expense budgets comes some type of communication that sets an expectation for a year-to-year sales increase. In reality, if you live in a market with flat market conditions, increased sales productivity is an integral part of creating profit for the organization. Whether you work for a Wall Street-backed firm or a private owner, the job in the sales world is to grow revenues month to month and year to year.
So how do we create more with less? You just have to be more efficient and effective at everything you do. I recently wrote a blog that touched on leadership. It addressed three components of leadership: creating a strategic plan, establishing a positive sales culture, and having the best talent on your sales team. Now let’s talk about day to day execution. Each member of your team needs to be more productive to produce more sales. What tools do you have that will allow this increased execution and effectiveness?
A great place to start realizing this increased sales productivity is with a quality media sales management CRM. Naturally, budget season is also the time of year that we at Efficio get increased interest from many different broadcasters about how a CRM can be optimized to assist in their sales departments. If you are a sales manager who needs to be more productive in 2014, let me highlight some ways an industry-specific CRM can provide ROI:
- Categorize all of your accounts from top to bottom by revenues and focus first on your top customers. At Efficio we define top customers as Key accounts. These customers will generate 75-80% of your station revenues. Pareto tells us that this top 75-80% of the revenue is generated by 20% of the accounts. So if you are a typical FM station with about 500 accounts, roughly 100 of those accounts may fall into that Key account spending level.
- Once you have identified your best accounts, make certain that you have a solid relationship with each decision maker and influencer at these businesses. Use your CRM to input all of your activities, track needs you uncover during CNAs, understand budget timing and investment levels, and focus on the needs identified by the client that you believe your station can uniquely provide solutions for. Do the same for your remaining accounts once you are confident in your strategies and tactics for those Keys.
- Track your pending sales proposals by confidence level or basic overall pending and track closing ratios. Identify all of your sales opportunities by package and track how much is in your funnel at any given time to make sure you are hitting your primary and secondary budgets, such as digital and NTR/event. This will also provide you with a trustworthy re-projection tool to provide intelligence to superiors at reforecasting time.
- Finally, collect what you do sell and decrease DSO. I have had financial executives at several clients communicate that the increased revenues collected and the decreased collections costs easily pay for any investment of the CRM itself. As a rep, this aging tool is a great way to track commissions, and to make sure you are presenting enough business to hit your individual sales goals as well as your financial goals.
If your plan for next year requires more efficient and effective selling by your entire sales organization, now is a great time to investigate a media-specific CRM that integrates with your traffic system and will provide metrics and intelligence to allow you to accomplish zero-expense growth, and at the same time be the revenue hero by hitting your revenue goals.
By Chris Crawford, General Sales Manager, Efficio Solutions