An effective Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is critical to a media organization’s ability to deliver the media solutions that customers need. In many ways, a well-designed and deployed CRM acts as the connective tissue linking customers with lead generation, sales, operations, strategists, optimizers and the various other roles involved in today’s media sales process. Thus, whether a company seeks to “re-boot” their CRM or implement a system for the first time, five key steps at the onset will help lay the right foundation and ensure success.

1. Designate a CRM champion

The champion of the project needs to ultimately own design and execution of an evolving CRM strategy that represents the interests of the business and users of the system. The champion is typically a senior level executive such as the chief revenue officer or the vice president of media sales. This person must be able to engage and rally other business/functional leaders to balance strategic, functional, technical and budget requirements to achieve the strategic CRM vision.

2. Identify and engage stakeholders

To determine who the key stakeholders are, understand who all intends to use the CRM and for what. After identifying all stakeholders, designate primary vs. secondary constituents to help prioritize needs and wants. Then nominate individuals to represent one or more stakeholder groups. Typically, representatives are members of the management team who are able to provide strategic and front-line perspective for their group(s) and support implementation and adoption of the final solution.

3. Establish guiding principles

The champion and stakeholder group representatives can now set the strategic vision for CRM by creating a prioritized list of guiding principles which could include items such as solutions sale orientation, customer-/user-centric design, compatibility with existing systems (e.g., campaign management tools and billing systems), implementation timing and cost. One approach to creating the guiding principles is to brainstorm all the possible principles, group similar ones, have each person independently rank their top principles, and then meet as a group to come to a consensus.

4. Create roles and develop macro plan

Once the guiding principles are established, detail the various roles that will be involved in this process, including the day-to-day project manager, who will be working with the champion to conduct milestone reviews and ultimately approve the final solution–as well as the team that will design and ultimately test the system. It is important to have a mix of media sales management, sales, specialists and pre-/post-support roles involved in the testing process to account for all perspectives. In parallel with the roles is the development of a macro plan that highlights key milestone phases, such as when to evaluate/select vendors, when to conduct “train the trainer” sessions, and what the targeted go-live date will be.

5. Develop business requirements and vendor/partner selection criteria

The next step to ensure that the right foundation for CRM is in place is to detail all of the various business requirements organized by functional area and designated as a low, medium or high priority item. For example, determining how to organize products and manage pricing is a key requirement that requires accurate detailing based on the multi-stakeholders involved. A few iterations of the business requirements document are usually required to establish a comprehensive list. However, it is important to recognize that the business requirements is a “living” document and will evolve throughout the process. Once everyone is comfortable with the initial business requirements, the project manager can then translate the document into the vendor/partner selection criteria to help objectively navigate the evaluation and selection of a CRM platform as well as the appropriate integration partner(s).

There are a lot of things to consider when thinking through how to best leverage CRM to enable your team to deliver at their best in today’s ever-evolving media landscape. Whether you are re-booting your existing CRM system or implementing one for the first time, ensuring a smooth and successful process starts with designating a CRM champion, identifying and engaging stakeholders, establishing guiding principles, creating roles and a macro plan, and then developing the detailed business requirements and vendor/partner selection criteria.

Read more insights on revenue growth strategies necessary to thrive in the digital media age.

Visit Alexander Group’s Media Sales practice page or contact a Media Sales practice leader.

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