I’m going to focus this blog post on a topic that sales leadership often relegates to afterthought: How well do you deliver on the promises you sell?
Given the multitude of products and services a multi-media advertising organisation is offering today and the pressure to deliver revenue growth, getting the order is too frequently given far more attention than fulfilling it.
Consider all the effort expended in the customer acquisition process. Most media organisations have refined the procedures involved in the sales side of CRM:
- Creating a pool of prospects.
- Qualifying/researching target prospects.
- Contacting/debriefing targets.
- Developing and presenting of proposal(s).
- Closing the sale.
It is at this point, when the sales person has closed the order, that sales leadership frequently fails to take into account two points of consideration:
- Is the client resourced to meet our expectations in the fulfillment process?
- Are we, the media organisation, structured to fulfill?
Let’s face it, in today’s rapidly changing technological marketplace, local advertising clients (and many regional advertisers) are unable to sustain the learning curve necessary to survive. It ceased being about banner and tile ads years ago.
Today our clients (and our sales teams) struggle with the multiplicity of the tools available: proliferating social media channels, re-targeting and geo-fencing, content marketing and long-tell phrasing, SSL requirements, responsive design vs. mobile apps, etc.
Just understanding the tools available and selecting the optimal mix to meet client needs is a challenge, as discussed in my October 2015 blog post.
Having done so, however, additional skills and knowledge are required in order to properly execute and fulfill on the inherent promise: delivering the return on investment (ROI). In some cases, the skills and knowledge are expected of the media organisation, but in other cases the client is expected to deliver.
Most, if not all, media organisations of sufficient scale have developed a client services team whose purpose is to deliver on the promise. Properly organised, resourced, and empowered, this group can not only execute the anticipated tasks required, it can serve as a secondary sales organisation working in concert with the client’s account executive.
Incremental revenue streams can be generated by offering fee-based services where the client resources are inadequate to the need.
The most obvious example is content marketing. In most sales scenarios, the media organisation provides the platform and delivers the promised exposure, and the client is expected to deliver the content (i.e. the blog entry/article) to be featured.
Frequently, however, the client is hard pressed to sustain the flow of content on the agreed upon deadlines.
Content generation is not a core expertise for most clients. It is for the media organisation. So develop a fee structure for your content generation services and develop a new revenue stream.
A typical fee structure is to use billable hours. Take the hourly rate you are paying the employee providing the service and multiply it by three (3), and you have a typical billable rate. The first third is the employee pay. The second third is the cost of benefits and allocated overhead associated with the employee. And the final third of the billable rate is your profit.
There is a wide array of skill sets inherent to today’s multi-media news organisations that can be deployed as revenue generating services.
Ironically, many of these skills — multi-media/video production, SEO, social media utilisation, etc. — were first developed in the newsroom as content and audience development tools.
Savvy advertising/marketing executives have developed similar staff skills and resources and created fulfillment teams. Even more visionary leaders have positioned the fulfillment teams with the revenue model described above.
Less desirable is the outsourcing of these skills/services to third-party vendors. Outsourcing creates its own problems. The media organisation is still left with a skill/knowledge void, and that means you don’t necessarily fully understand what you are selling.
And the revenue stream that fee-based services can drive is drastically diluted by the vendor compensation, which is usually charging you the billable rate outlined above.
If your organisation has successfully structured a fee-based support team, please share your example by responding or commenting to this blog post.