Media: Five Guiding Principles to Ensure Successful CRM Adoption

By: Yang Liu Media Sales

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a top enablement resource for world-class media sales organizations. Laying the foundation is critical, but successful adoption depends on honing the design, implementation and maintenance phases of CRM. Below are five guiding principles that, if followed, can help ensure sales organizations improve CRM adoption and place users at the center of focus.

1. Establish strategic goals for every stage of CRM evolution; know when to pass from one stage to another

Virtually all CRMs will go through a “crawl, walk and run” stage. For example, establishing a CRM might be the first step in a customer retention strategy; a later stage in CRM development may focus on solution selling at strategic customers.

Figure I: Phases of Growth & CRM EntryFirst-time CRM implementation centers on building CRM “muscle memory.” Sales and sales support teams may not have experience uploading sales collateral into a centralized system.

2. Planning and requirements collection must be thorough and include all key stakeholders

A CRM design requires a task force that includes all key stakeholders. Primary stakeholders could include sales leadership, front line sales and sales support. Secondary stakeholders may also include finance, IT and marketing. This group will be the primary decision-makers for:

  • Contact Management (e.g., Agency vs. Direct Advertiser)
  • Lead Management
  • Account/Opportunity Management (e.g., Programmatic vs. Campaign)
  • Sales Process Alignment–Access, Persuade & Fulfill
  • Products and Pricing (e.g., Digital vs. Print)
  • Team Management & Collaboration
  • Reports & Dashboards
  • Pipeline Management & Forecasting

It is important to prioritize requirements based on needs. Plan the CRM project completely; it will be much harder (and costly) for an integration partner to revert and re-engineer a solution.

3. Focus the architecture and build of the CRM on user-friendliness

If the functionality or process is difficult to execute, then system adoption is at risk. During architecting, building and testing, it is imperative to select a requisite number of users that can provide actionable feedback on functionality. Generally, the more intricate the function or workflow, the more feedback is required during testing. For example, a misstep that media companies can make during design is not considering the necessary collaboration between sales teams, content support, ad ops and campaign support.

4. Data integration needs to be carefully planned and well-scoped

CRM implementation is an opportunity to clean and audit existing data environments in order to maintain the integrity of data brought into the system. Example questions to ask about your data environment include:

  • What are my current sources of data?
  • What is the reliability of the data within each source?
  • Are there data redundancies?
  • Will we use the CRM system to validate sales compensation decisions?

Take caution to balance priority and desire when shifting from “crawl” to “run.” The “crawl” stage relies on baseline data inputted in the system before launch. Future stages, such as “run,” may focus more on multi-directional automation between multiple sources of data.

5. Adoption is not a static event; it requires a dedicated team, detailed work plan and user advocacy/support

While CRM launch may be a one-time event, the adoption and advocacy of the system is more like a campaign. Just like the design team, media companies need a well-equipped change adoption/advocacy group to support new users. This team will differ in structure because it will be comprised of “super users” enabled by leadership sponsorship.

The support structure does not end with an advocacy team, however. A CRM administrative support structure is equally important. These roles should have a deep understanding of the CRM solution, design and capabilities. Typically, these roles do not exist in a sales organization for companies who are implementing a CRM solution for the first time. Often media companies bring in external talent to fill these roles as it is not easy to train individuals for this skillset.

An investment in CRM is a natural progression for most media sales organizations that enter different phases of growth, rationalizing and maintaining their changing customer base. If used properly, CRM can help you stay in front of your rapidly changing environment to maximize customer ROI.

Alexander Group can help you navigate the murky waters of CRM adoption. Contact a media sales leader today.

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Co-author: Quang Do is a director in Alexander Group’s Chicago office.

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Yang Liu

Yang Liu is a manager in the Chicago office. Yang has experience working with companies in a variety of industries including media ad sales, manufacturing, high-tech, medical device and private equity. His most recent engagements include a complete go-to-market strategy assessment, full-scale enterprise sales model design including: job roles, sales compensation and competency model design.


Prior to joining the Alexander Group, Yang was an associate director in a key accounts practice at a global sales consultancy. In his role, he led various consulting and sales teams to implement best practices in executive functional effectiveness, as well as developed and executed strategies to grow the practice through the pursuit of new targeted opportunities. During his tenure as a management consultant at another firm, Yang developed and presented deliverables to Federal Government clientele in improving cost-effectiveness, enhancing efficiencies in asset procurement and lifecycle management, and reducing costs associated to portfolio leasehold management. Yang has a B.S. in management & public finance from Indiana University.


Quang Do

Quang Do is a director in the Chicago office. Quang is a leader of the firm’s Media, Manufacturing and Implementation & Change Adoption practices. Quang leads engagements across a variety of industries including integrated & digital media, high-tech and manufacturing. His most recent engagements have included transforming clients’ revenue growth strategies, structures and management systems and providing full-scale implementation guidance. During times of significant and rapid change, Quang shapes and implements high-impact solutions that deliver sustained revenue growth and drive organizational change.


Prior to joining the Alexander Group, Quang was a member of Ford’s marketing leadership program. Prior to Ford, Quang worked in business development for Eaton Corp. Through 2008, he worked in investor relations for Chevron where he served institutional investors and Wall Street analysts. While at Chevron, Quang also worked and lived in Venezuela and is a graduate of Chevron’s finance leadership development program.


Quang holds an MBA from the University of Michigan’s Stephen M. Ross School of Business, an M.S. in Behavior, Education & Communication from the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources & Environment and a B.S. in Finance from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Quang is also a Certified Sales Compensation Professional (CSCP).


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