Why advertising agencies need integrated CRM to be successful

Fact is many Agencies do not manage their new business processes with any efficient or effective behavior. Often it is personalized, local and isolated, making the process and success of new business in the agency environment a very expensive commodity. Integrated CRM adoption with Social Networks across the agency network will resolve two immediate problems, global forecasting and global pitch management; providing C-level access to more clarity, transparency, accountability and openness, words I hear rarely in agency new business meetings! So stop pouring $M’s down the drain on your current New Business processes and start thinking about new business as a business in itself and ask yourself as a CEO, why don’t I have a dashboard on my customer relationship world?

This is a familiar story to the global head’s of new business of some agencies, you find out that 5 of your regional people have requested the same RFP five times from your prospective client, however you only found out when the CMO of the client rang you and told you so!

Not a good start.

This story may appear strange to you, in what is believed to be the smooth running of the agency new business funnel, but in fact it happens all the time.

Agencies are not the natural home for “new business processes”, generally their people have achieved their status though contacts and relationships, this is why new business teams and accounts move around the industry so easily. But when it comes to tactical and strategic selling, the skills and processes to make this happen are just not skills that agency new business people have! I know, I am trained as a huthwaite sales professional and my world was very different!

My first hand observation of this behavior highlights one striking issue, “how much time new business people waste” in just trying to find out where things are or who is working on what. Generally this involves loads of emails, with large file attachments of previous RFP responses and excel spreadsheets for revenue and forecasting. It’s a real horror show. Take it to a larger extent with major groups and you have global co-ordination and collaboration chaos with your new business. If they are lucky, new business may have an area to store and share files, but that’s about it.

So what should agencies really be doing to make new business the animal it should be?

1). A new business process, procedures and strategy.

2). A reflection of number 1). as a New Business Dashboards, that monitor the performance of your financial funnels, your global, regional and local forecasting (broken down by whatever metrics of business structures you need), providing profitability by client, brand etc etc . . . this will keep the CFO happy.

From a new business prospective, organizations need CRM to give you a competitive buzz/rush in your new business, (it needs to feel like and act like a first date, new business is about adventure, entering the unknown and winning!). You don’t believe me?, well then you have never employed a sales “hunter” before!

CRM empowering people to be better, leaner and meaner in the new business process, where client conversations, email conversations, documents, meetings and activities are all logged not just for now, but for later. Building new business intelligence is one of the best ways to learn from your mistakes, it also enables organizations to refocus on previous areas of success, and to expand current relationships through “global sales extension”, i.e. you win business and publish to your global community, for regional and local new business adoption and localization (yes, don’t just think that your creativity has to be localized for relevance, so has your new business processes).

So Customer Relationship Management systems (CRM) do exactly what the agencies believe they do, but don’t actually practice! Selling is about defining your processes, mapping the significance of each of these stages to your business and financial outcome, then moving step by step to a final “mutual exclusivity” of being the preferred supplier.

Now in the past CRM solutions were clunky, often independent of other systems, duplicating much information from financial and ERP systems, so the “user experience” of the agency was so poor, no matter how much you tried you couldn’t get the business to adopt such strict processes. This is all changed now with the introduction of “social network connectors”, like Yammer, Jive, Chatter and others. The EXPLODE the user experience of CRM into threads of conversations, insights, intelligence, collaboration at lightening speeds. Once I connected my CRM though a “social network channel” our worlds took off and my users ravished the information for competitive advantage.

So my tip, you want CRM to work in your agency, do your social platform first, then define your “New Business” processes followed by CRM, then integrate them both.

Agencies need to implement CRM to enable global, regional and local client customer relationship management, adding knowledge, professionalism and accountability to a crucial part of their businesses. Your agency will be smarter, your people more connected and aware of what Customer Relationships mean and you will retain all of these insights, strategies and knowledge long after your favorite head of new business left for better shores!

Executive’s check out your CRM providers, get them in to talk about how to be successful in new business process adoption and even get them to bench-mark similar sized and market positioned companies. But please do one thing, get your CRM sorted and watch your new business successes rise and your teams perform to levels you never believed possible.

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