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After a banner year of high growth in 2021, 2022 has been a wild ride for media companies. For most, high growth has slowed to normal levels or decelerated even further. The war in Ukraine, explosive inflation, mortgage rates topping 7%, and now the prospect of deflation and a broader slowdown in 2023 are on everyone’s minds.
Recent conversations with media leaders have elevated concerns beyond softness in automotive advertising earlier in the year to a noticeable decline in RFPs over the summer. The mood seems to be cautiously optimistic that Q4 will be decent with political budgets, although some aren’t seeing the typical demand. There’s also been a “wait-and-see” attitude from marketers with budgets on the sidelines for Q4.
This is where the conversation becomes alarming. Almost universally, everyone is worried about Q1 2023 and wondering if 2023 will be down, flat, or up from 2022. If only there was a crystal ball.
Navigating these stormy seas has many media leaders feeling nervous. Without good visibility, they don’t know what’s in their control and where to step on the gas or pump the brakes. Steering a ship through stormy seas to safety starts with having a great periscope for navigation. Every media revenue leader should be assessing their periscope by asking these questions:
1. Do we have strong pipeline visibility?
Unfortunately, many ad sales teams have difficulty getting good pipeline insights due to low CRM adoption, data quality issues, and limitations with information capture such as detailed product and budget information. Use this checklist to beef up your pipeline visibility:
- Adoption: All sellers have every open deal in the pipe. Review closed-won cycle times where the average is less than 20 days. These are sellers who only put in deals at the last minute to get orders booked, severely impacting forward visibility.
- Data quality: Ensure all accounts have categories and/or subcategories. Ensure the agency data is clearly notated by location, with decision-makers identified. Make sure all the campaign start dates are in the future and the sales stages are accurate.
- Minimum information: Make sure you have the correct baseline information, such as campaign objectives, RFP due dates, start dates, etc. Verify that you’re able to capture product-level monthly budgets to track what might deliver when and if the team is pitching the right solution or missing opportunities.
2. Are we meeting the right brands and agencies?
Have a plan and communicate expectations to the team. Give clear goals for how many weekly meetings are expected and where to focus. Is your revenue strategy dependent on growing spend with key accounts, finding new logos, maximizing seasonal spenders, pushing new products and solutions, etc.? Set the goals, publish weekly scorecards to drive execution, and help sales managers coach for results.
One of the Q1 killers for most sales teams is they’re closing their pipeline from the biggest quarter of the year in Q4. Too often, they’re not proactively working on building next year’s pipeline. They’re busy and not always confident about next year’s goals and account ownership. Great revenue leaders help their teams strike the right balance between pipeline building and closing without fear for what will happen next year.
3. How are we pacing compared to last year?
Don’t get caught flat-footed when your CEO asks, “Are we going to be up or down from last year?” The best practice is knowing how much pipeline and bookings you had at the same time last year and knowing which categories, accounts, and products were driving it. Another key metric is the percent booked for the quarter at the start. Are you ahead or behind?
Focusing on the fundamentals is a winning strategy for navigating the stormy seas ahead. Slowdowns usually expose a weak foundation, so fix it now. Your team will appreciate you for it.
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It’s tempting to think everyone is struggling with accurate forecasting in ad sales. Sophisticated organizations have found ways to get highly accurate forecasts daily - they know how much revenue is expected for the quarter as of yesterday. To schedule a free consulting call to discuss ad sales forecast-ing challenges or see the only software that solves all these problems now, contact us for a demo today.