Back-end sales software has evolved from simple tracking spreadsheets to full-blown customer relationship management systems. But day-to-day, which systems (and features within those systems) are the most helpful to magazine salespeople? This article asks a selection of salespeople what they find most useful and why.

Web-Based Systems

Web-based systems are gaining prominence, particularly as the demands of selling go beyond the office. Physician’s Practice has used Salesforce for the past five years. Two years ago the magazine was acquired by CMP Medica and, based on its experience, the rest of CMP Medica is now implementing Salesforce as well. “It’s all online,” says Physician’s Practice associate publisher Eric Temple-Morris. “Anyone who needs information can dial up and we share information in real time. It allows us to automate and customize messages and instead of sending out one mass e-mail, we can segment. We can tell who’s opening e-mails, who clicked on what. We do all reporting and orders in Salesforce; there is no manual reporting.”

The Magazine Manager has developed a following among both small and large publishers and recently launched a new version that offers production and circulation management and plans to add a digital edition soon. Regional title 417 uses the system for contact management, contract tracking and ad production. “Unlike a lot of magazines whose ads are delivered by an agency, we’re in a smaller market and we create at least 90 percent of the ads ourselves,” says general manager Joan Whitaker. “The production process is pretty cumbersome in terms of contacting advertisers and getting ads produced. The Magazine Manager has helped our salespeople as a sales contact system, letting them know when they were last contacted but also helps the production side by enabling them to pull down the ads that need to be produced for that issue.”

Northern Colorado Business Report uses The Magazine Manager for its “Flex Reports.” “We have three different journals and only one database and it’s a challenge to pull and sort the data by product and rep, with comparisons to goal,” says publisher Jeff Nuttall. “Each journal also has ancillary products like directories and events. But The Magazine Manager contains built-in Flex Reports that allow you to build what you need on the fly.”

The Balance Between Enterprise and Individual Solutions

Publishers should also consider that enterprise solutions may not necessarily deliver the right service for the individual rep. “I’m an ACT guy and McGraw-Hill uses Siebel,” says Keith Gregory, online sales manager at Aviation Week. “You tend to get two different mindsets for what salespeople need. Management wants reporting, while salespeople basically want smart index cards. The systems don’t always line up.”

Gregory likes ACT because, he says, it’s easy to use and lends itself to customization. “One thing I try to do for my contacts is create a source code of where that contact came from,” he says. “You can look at all the people who came from a certain source. ACT can create groups at tradeshows, find out who’s exhibiting, filter and then group, and when I walk the floor I can see which person I should ask for. There are some great things about Siebel, like the ability to see other reps and what they’re doing on the account but if I want to create a new contact, it takes 15 minutes. In ACT, it takes 30 seconds. If you want to help salespeople, I would recommend ACT, and then look to get an ACT Consultant and create a networked version for management. If you want something for management, that’s a different story. Then you are looking more along the lines of Salesforce or Siebel.”

Wish List

Like many publishers, The Atlantic is holding off on investing in an updated system this year. But as publisher Jay Lauf and his team assess systems, customization is high on their list. “The more customization they can allow, the better,” says Lauf. “I find that a lot of these systems are too stilted. Many just aren’t helpful enough. Salesforce seems to be one that offers flexibility and strong features and the ability to manage contacts on the fly on mobile devices.”

Emmis Interactive sales director Tricia Clarke-Stone wants to see a traffic system that goes beyond DART or Atlas. “Whether you’re local or national, most publishers are tied to display ads,” she says. “When you work with display ads, you hit a ceiling because everything is based on impressions. We’re not Google or Yahoo or AOL. We’re not going to generate more revenue than the impressions you can deliver.”

Instead, Clarke-Stone wants to see a system that can accommodate the multi-faceted programs publishers are now offering. “A lot of what we do is tied to high engagement programs and inventory,” she says. “That doesn’t necessarily need to be handled by an ad server. Those are sponsorships, mobile apps, etcetera. It would be great if there was something beyond the display ad system that could track some of the high engagement inventory and be used as part of the production arm.”


Sales Solutions Roundup
An overview of some of the leading sales software providers.

Clients: Reed Business Information, Smart Money
Client Quote: “I’ve used Salesforce and found it to be of tremendous
benefit. I know it can be pricey but it’s a complete solution and one
on which I successfully rely.”

The Magazine Manager
Clients: Renaissance Publishing, Financial Advisor
Client Quote: “It’s much more than a CRM. I wanted my CRM to interface
seamlessly with all my other functionality across the business and
that’s MM.”

Clients: Maitland Primrose Media Group, Print Solutions Magazine
Client Quote: “It is an affordable CRM that is easy to work with. Their mail merge system is great.”

Clients: Salem Press
Client Quote: “We use GoldMine for contact and lead management. It’s very good.”

Clients: McGraw-Hill
Client Quote: “The best I’ve used so far.”

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