Technology to make sales team smarter

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How do publishers use technology-from contact management and customer relationship management (CRM) systems to the Internet-to help their salespeople learn more about their customers?

"I really emphasize to people that they need to know everything about their clients-who the key executives are, when their fiscal year ends," said John Taggart, exec VP-group publisher at MediaTec Publishing. "It's with that depth of information that salespeople can think through a program that's unique to the advertiser and drives ROI. The Internet is a great tool for researching that information."

Ascend Media, which acquired Medical World Communications in late 2004, has been rolling out the IMS (Inquiry Management Systems) ad tracking system to its newly acquired nonmedical publications over the past year. "IMS has incredible depth beyond simple market share tracking," said Ascend President-CEO Cam Bishop. "

Salespeople can slice and dice the information in many ways to find out how their customers are spending in the market-by dollars, by pages, by month, by publication."

Matt Morollo, associate publisher for 1105 Media's (formerly 101communications) Redmond Media Group, pointed out that it is "mission critical" for his salespeople to share information with one another in real time, especially on the availability of inventory. "After two or three years, our sales people have gotten so good at maximizing our inventory opportunities that I'm actively looking to develop some next-generation products for them to sell," he said.

While most b-to-b media companies don't have enterprisewide CRM systems, Reed Business Information is nearly finished with its rollout, said Jeff Greisch, division president for Chicago, the first division to deploy the system in 2004.

Among other benefits, Greisch said, is improved coordination of sales teams for several sibling publications, which in the past might each have visited the same client but rarely communicated among themselves.

"Now, each person can access any customers of any publication and see what they're spending, how they're spending and read call reports filled with information that would never have been shared before," Greisch said. Equally important, there is now a single database that is updated by multiple people. "That improves the quality of the database incrementally," he said. M

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