Media Sales Imperatives for the Digital Revolution

By: Matt Bartels Media Sales, Revenue Growth Strategy

The digitalization of the buyer journey across industries is similarly forcing media organizations to rethink every element of their go-to-customer model. This reimagining includes the way customers are segmented, the messages delivered, the combination of roles deployed, sales motions and performance management expectations.

Alexander Group recently engaged with senior media executives and sales leaders in a series of discussions and roundtables about the transformation to digital. What is the impact on existing customers, potential customers and media organizations themselves—from the sales leader to the marketing VP to the CRO? There are several important insights gained from these frank, thought-provoking and ultimately optimistic talks.

Highlights

Implications for a digitized world

With few exceptions, the ascendance of digital media continues to accelerate. The fundamental implications of the digital shift for sales teams, financial leaders and any senior executive who has a precise interest in revenue growth are becoming clear and increasingly urgent.

Senior media executives recognize the need to embrace the digital transformation. Though the sales organization wants to transform in a way that best meshes with their existing processes, it’s important to look externally, at the entire buyer journey—especially in marketing and post-sales collaboration.

Many media organizations are finding that as the buyer journey continues to evolve, their sales teams struggle with accessing senior executives they’ve lost touch with or have never met. The tip of the spear that used to be sales is now a multifunctional head with non-traditional sales roles.

The upshot? Someone outside of marketing needs to pay attention to what prospects are learning, and where. Roles across the organization need to be engaging with prospects and customers before, during and after the sale.

New reality, new P&L challenges

The digital reality presents numerous challenges for the media CFO. To afford new upstream coverage and investment, CFOs must balance the critical need for new revenue streams with the risk to the existing business. The evolution of new go-to-customer models also means that they need to find the budget for new internal roles.

As media companies prioritize new digital services, with revenue streams coming from video, mobile and display advertising, CFOs are forced to manage resources in a way that promotes growth and addresses the potential impact of declining margins.

To allocate more resources upstream effectively, senior media leaders need to focus on customer segmentation. Organizations should prioritize resources against prospect and customer opportunity. Companies also need to deploy incremental pre-sell and post-sale resources against higher-margin business and cross-sell opportunities. Meanwhile senior media leaders need to continually streamline transactional processes. By finding customers who want to partner, companies can make the right bets on spending time upstream and cultivating relationships.

All this, plus the imperative for simplification. Over-engineering of process and strategy leads to more levels of complexity, confusion and complication—all which devour time, resources and budgets.

But with increased investment, what is the risk? New business models require new skills.

Not to be overlooked: talent and training

As companies shift away from transactional, relationship-based sales, they require even more experienced sales professionals, with the ability to leverage insights, deliver outcome-centric value propositions and build relationships with senior stakeholders.

A perceived lack of talent and training exists among many senior media executives. Often this perception is quite accurate. In today’s market place it is a struggle to find talent who can articulate a complex (multi-product/multi-platform) value proposition in the face of advertisers who are screaming for total transparency, real-time performance measurement and immediate ROI.

Media leaders need to open themselves to not only locating and acquiring leading-edge talent, but to training hired potential to become the next wave of digital connoisseurs.

The transformation of roles and skills must be accompanied by new performance expectations. New sales compensation plans may be required to drive desired behaviors and business outcomes.

The front end implications of digitalization are apparent—but what about the back end? And in particular, the back end of the sale. Many media companies struggle with post-sale relationship development because of an internal ecosystem that is not set up to fully embrace digital and its consumer demands. Sales forces are so focused on closing, post-sales service gets relegated to a lower position of significance.

In the new digital world, sales and marketing must work collaboratively with the back-end service to create a consistent and unified customer experience throughout the buyer journey.

Next steps

There is light on the horizon. By forging reimagined partnerships and recruiting leading-edge talent with particularly attuned skillsets, the digitalized universe presents enormous opportunity.

Contact us today to schedule a 45-minute highlights briefing and to learn more about our 2018 media sales practices research.

And don’t forget to join 300+ revenue leaders November 7-9 in Naples, FL for the 2018 Chief Sales Executive Annual Forum. To learn more, check out the Media Track and speaker roster.

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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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