In today’s dynamic media industry, sales organizations search for the best way to deploy sales resources. How can media companies effectively acquire new business (hunters), manage and develop acquired business (farmers) and support the sale before and after acquisition (sales support)? Newly developed offerings and delivery solutions can blur the lines of responsibilities among these roles. To manage accountability and enhance the customer experience, sales organizations can employ an effective tool: the media Sales Pod.
What is a media Sales Pod?
A typical media Sales Pod (or simply Pod), is a sales team that consists of dedicated hunters, farmers and support team members who work together exclusively, sharing a set of accounts as well as a common goal. Media Pods usually include three to eight team members, including the sales manager and often a vertical (industry) focus.
How Pods operate
In a typical media Pod, the hunter, often termed account executive (AE) works with the pre-sales support team to identify and qualify leads that ultimately become new customers. As the AE finalizes the details of the first campaign that will initiate the relationship between the customer and the media company, the AE will introduce the farmer, often termed account manager (AM) to the customer. The AM will establish the farmer’s role as the person who will primarily own the relationship moving forward in order to deliver the return and results the customer desires. Throughout this process, pre- as well as post-sales support resources assist in closing the initial deal and delivering on the customer’s expectations by launching the campaign, providing real-time performance reporting and optimizing results by ensuring the campaign reaches the targeted audience.
Pros of Pods:
Pods, by their nature, foster frequent communication and a healthy working relationship between specific hunters, farmers and assigned support roles. In theory, this structure creates a bonded and effective team. Valuable benefits of operating in a Pod structure include the following:
When are Pods most effective?
Pods are most effective for accounts that require high-touch; for example, imagine an account that is a large multi-national retailer where the media company is currently doing business with only a handful of the divisions. There is still a lot of green space—thus farming and hunting activities are occurring simultaneously. The farmers would be actively managing the current relationship while identifying new opportunities to transition to the hunter.
Managing and compensating Pods
Pod structures also feature a different sales compensation scheme, one that emphasizes team goals (revenue and campaign delivery). Modern Pods often have a single team revenue goal, while media sales organizations transitioning to Pods for the first time may retain legacy individual revenue goals and sales compensation structures. The key is to manage individual performance so that team members contribute fairly to achieve a team revenue goal.
Pods are most successful when a team can work together against a unified goal; however, when team results do not easily tie back to individual contributions, pronounced problems may arise. Consider the following critical points when managing the Pod and designing and executing an incentive structure that appropriately balances a shared destiny with individual accountability:
Moving to a Pod sales structure can reinvigorate your team’s customer-centric focus, enabling your team to deliver an encompassing sales experience from the initial acquisition through on-going account management–all by an exclusive team with deep expertise. Pod structures evolved from a dynamic media environment where firms were constantly looking for the best way to deploy limited resources to meet customer demands.
Modern media ad sales organizations manage transformation in a more iterative approach. Progressive companies consistently re-evaluate their offerings and how they deliver value in order to differentiate themselves. As sales strategies shift, sales leaders must consider how deployment and coverage need to evolve to keep pace. Moving to Pods ultimately depends on understanding your customers’ needs, the change appetite of your sales culture and how to deliver key value messages to your customers. Pods can help increase focus, enhance team work and ultimately lead to profitable revenue growth opportunities. Is the Pod structure right for your organization?
Co-author: Quang Do is a director in Alexander Group’s San Francisco office.
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