Media Case Study: Unlocking Hidden Sales Capacity

By: Tyler Miller Digital Transformation, Media Sales, Sales Process, Sales Productivity, Sales Strategy

Integrated media company improves sales efficiency by more than 10 percent without adjusting headcount.

Media sales organizations and publishers across the spectrum are experiencing evolving workload demands. The required pre- and post-sales work, effort and expertise is constantly shifting. Multiple factors drive these changes:

  • Decreased demand for print advertising/publications
  • Increased pricing pressure and commodification of traditional digital media
  • Constantly evolving technological advancements
  • Growing supply of customized campaign solutions, often commanding relatively higher profit margins for publishers

Alexander Group (AGI) recently partnered with an integrated media company that felt the impact across each of the above dimensions. The company’s sales organization aligned to the new strategy of maintaining traditional print and digital business while driving focus towards high profit, custom solutions. Although custom offerings accounted for only 20 percent of revenue, AGI found that the proportion of time allocated toward custom offerings across the sales support organization exceeded 50 percent. With revenue from custom offerings expected to nearly double by 2021, the organization needed to establish clarity around current processes to understand true capacity and avoid potentially overinvesting in the wrong types of resources to handle growing demand.

Capacity issues drove an increase in “Shadow Operations”: task owners pushing accountabilities toward others when assistance was needed and capacity was low. Over time, true role accountabilities became unclear as task orientation and role accountabilities blurred. Processes documented years ago no longer conformed to reality and how things were executed today.

These shadow operations limit accurate process mapping and identification of process bottlenecks. For example, deficits in trafficking capacity may motivate digital ad operations individuals to traffic ads. This can reduce ad operations’ capacity for campaign optimization and reporting, resulting in a misdiagnosed need for additional ad ops resources. Identifying inefficient shadow operations and determining pre- and post-sales process bottlenecks will enable prioritization of efficiency generating opportunities. By standardizing role definitions and eliminating “shadow operations,” AGI found the company could increase capacity by approximately 10 percent without adjusting headcount.

Demand for new products means potentially volatile pre- and post-sales workload requirements. To fully realize a strategy and maximize ROI requires support and operational capacity. The transition from legacy revenue streams to new and more profitable alternatives may require new sales management and sales compensation program elements. Just as important (if not more) is eliminating shadow operations, driving consistency of process execution and role deployment, and quantifying available capacity. Without a consistent approach and strong understanding of current capacity, it is impossible to understand the capacity requirements to manage and execute against an organization’s future strategy.

Is it time to reevaluate your media sales organization’s sales processes, efficiency and capacity? Contact a Media Sales practice expert to learn more.

Explore Alexander Group’s perspective on revenue growth.

Co-author: Matt Bartels is a principal and leader of  Alexander Group’s Media and Implementation & Change Adoption practices in the Chicago office. He is also a prolific blog writer on media industry topics.

Read Part 1 of this 3-part blog series.
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PUBLISHER’S CORNER: Related Resources

  1. Media Sales: Structuring Pre- and Post-Sales Roles
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    What directives are required to win in the face of changing client demands? Discover the top leadership mandates for the Media Ad Sales Force of 2020.
  3. Three Key Areas of Enablement to Support Solution Selling
    How can media sales leaders effectively enable solution selling while demonstrating ROI for the unique needs of customers?
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Tyler Miller

Tyler Miller is a consultant in the Chicago office. As a consultant, Tyler works with client leaders in sales, marketing, finance and human resources to solve revenue growth challenges. He designs and conducts fact-finding activities to understand client objectives and issues. He participates in and leads client meetings to present recommendations and consulting deliverables. Tyler manages business analyst and associate consultant resources at the Alexander Group on project engagements.


Prior to joining the Alexander Group, Tyler was a regional sales engineer for an industrial manufacturing company. He established and managed a distribution network and handled direct sales for large customers. Previously, Tyler worked as an executive recruiter, focusing on managing client relationships and creating hiring strategies for sales, marketing and engineering management teams in the industrial automation and medical device industries. He holds an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and a B.A. from Illinois Wesleyan University.


Matt Bartels

Matt Bartels is a principal in the Chicago office. Matt is a leader for the firm’s Media and Implementation & Change Adoption practices. He also has widespread experience in a variety of industries, including technology, manufacturing and health care. Matt has a proven record of working with clients to develop actionable growth-oriented strategies, go-to-customer transformations and productivity enhancements. In addition, Matt is an expert in global and domestic sales compensation design. He is a leader in the revenue growth space, and a frequent speaker and author of thought leadership content.


Prior to joining the Alexander Group, Matt was a management consultant at Deloitte and IBM Business Consulting Services. He earned his B.A. in economics from the University of Chicago and an MBA from Indiana University Kelley School of Business. Matt is also a Certified Sales Compensation Professional (CSCP), WorldatWork.


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