You already know that implementing a CRM is not a technology project and you know the management team have to stand behind the initiative. So what are the things you can do to ensure success when implementing a CRM like RunMags in your publishing business?
Now that CRM platforms have been available and implemented allover the world for over 20 years, it's 'common knowledge' that most CRM initiatives fail. Right? Without reading that Gartner Group report, you've heard it so many times; "55-75% of CRM project fail".
Let's kill the CRM failure myth once for all
So what does CRM failure look like? If you dig a bit deeper, you'll find that this statement originates all the way back to 2001 when Gartner Group published a research paper on eCommerce and Customer Relationship Management. Gartner had surveyed some five hundred large organizations, asking "Did it meet expectations?" The answer they picked up fairly consistently on a scale from 1-5, was that a lot of CRM initiatives failed to meet expectations. The report was published saying that 55% of CRM projects percent failed to meet expectations.
Like in so many cases in research; you get different results depending on HOW you ask the question. Just because expectations were not met, didn't actually mean that the people that took the survey thought the CRM initiatives were a waste of money. It's just that when media picked up the report the headline of failed CRM initiatives was a better headline. In 2001 CRM systems were a new thing for most people so while expectations may have been off, many of the respondents still saw increased sales as a result of the CRM initiative.
What you already (probably) know
If you've been around the block, you've probably worked in an organization that employs a CRM system for the sales and marketing organization to use. You may have seen that junior sales reps use the CRM system while the lone wolves don't - and still get away with it. You may have participated in weekly time-wasting calls where the sales manager is going through the team one by one, updating deal stages, asking about probability for closure, pushing deals out into the future. You may have witnessed IT spend tremendous amounts of resources on 'evolving' the CRM.
This is fairly typical in many organizations, but it doesn't necessarily mean that the CRM initiative is a failure. It is just not effective. Compared to NOT having a CRM system in place, the organization is still likely to be better off serving customers, closing sales orders, forecasting future sales and managing contracts. Serving and selling to a hundred or so customers with only your brain and a spreadsheet is simply not effective either.
So the team need to be armed with the appropriate tools and ways to go about their daily routines. If you teach them how to do their job, they may actually stand a chance to succeed, right? The effectiveness of a CRM initiative will always correlate to the leadership skills and investment in coaching that the managing team provides.
What publishers should do when implementing a CRM
So with that fairly lengthy intro, what should you do when implementing a CRM in your publishing business? And even more specific, what should you do when implementing RunMags in your publishing business? What are some of the most critical ways to secure success?
1. The VP of Advertising Sales should lead the roll-out of your CRM as a tool to increase revenue
The main objective of the CRM should always be to help the ad sales team sell more, access support resources during sales cycles and manage their territory. Remember, the main purpose of the CRM is not for Finance to get accurate forecasting, it's to increase sales. The accurate forecasting is just a byproduct.
The VP of Advertising Sales need to get her hands dirty with the CRM early in the implementation project and truly understand the system so that she can advocate for it to be used to the maximum extent. The VP of Advertising Sales should also collect feedback from the team to tweak the setup.
2. Train the ad sales team first and help them close real deals using the CRM
Since the overall commercial process begin with sales and all other aspects of the business follow, the ad sales team should be the ones to take the lead once you start training and let people use the platform.
After the initial training session(s), provide individual one-on-one sessions either in person or online to make sure each sales rep understand how to search for accounts, add accounts and contact, and most importantly; how to create and close deals.
Don't fall into the trap of letting sales reps continue closing deals "the old way". Close that door hard and make sure that EVERYONE understand that sales goals and commission will ONLY be based on data in RunMags from the day of launch.
3. Respond rapidly to concerns and tweak the system in real time
Once you go live, it's of essence that the sales reps feel like their concerns are being listened to and that action is taken based on their feedback. Fast.
On a daily basis, collect feedback from the sales reps and decide collectively how to change drop down lists, tweak naming conventions for advertising products and customize your email templates so that they follow your organization's tone of voice.
The faster the sales reps see that their feedback is being responded to, the more enthusiastic they will be to use the platform.
4. Use the CRM as a tool to jointly create strategies for major accounts
Your CRM should drive team collaboration and transparency. RunMags was developed for this so that your organization can benefit from healthy competition and a sales team that help each other.
As part of the roll-out of RunMags, talk collectively who your target accounts are. What companies should you specifically target to develop long-lasting relationships with at various levels? How can advertising with you and engaging with your readers grow their business? Ultimately, how can you bring them leads?
Use RunMags as your tool to jointly create a strategy for each major account. Identify who the decision makers and influencers are, study their business model and customer base to identify how you can create value. Set sales goals and help the sales team maximize opportunities by coaching them throughout the sales process.
5. As deals close, let the production team manage fulfillment
In RunMags, as deals successfully close, the production team will be presented with complete information on bookings and will be able to plan the bookings into issues (print, digital, newsletters) and in time (website, social).
Don't wait until the sales team have closed a major number of deals, but rather let the production team be able to see what information the sales reps are providing them with so that they can provide feedback to the sales reps on what's working and what's not working.
6. Invoice as soon as the contractual terms allow you to
RunMags will make sure you don't forget to invoice and also make sure you don't accidentally invoice too early. While in the past, you may have adopted a billing process that was aligned with when you went to print, you're likely to be able to operate your business in a more cash flow positive way when you use RunMags.
Each product booking added in a deal in RunMags will have it's own billing date based on the billing terms and the delivery date of the product. As your web banner ads and social sponsorship offering will be managed in RunMags together with the print offerings, you'll streamline your business processes if you let RunMags govern when to invoice.
Use the "Earliest Billing Date" for each booking and billing item and invoice billing items on a weekly if not daily basis. Also, teach your sales reps that their contractual negotiation will matter greatly for the company's cash flow.
7. Use the dashboards and data tables to develop an understanding of the business
The sooner you begin using the insight tools in RunMags, the easier it will be for you to understand what they tell you and what action you should be taking.
Study the dashboards as deals are created and closed. Develop an understanding of how the status of the deals control your sales pipeline. When deals close, analyze which products that are being sold and which ones that are generating revenue.