When CFO Craig Rucker joined 1105 Media a year ago, it didn’t take him long to pinpoint where he saw an opportunity for modernization at the leading media provider in the targeted business-to-business space. 1105 Media has 58 brands, hundreds of digital & print products and does over 100 B2B events annually.
The company had different management systems for every service they offered. It meant there was one program used for tracking digital ads, another handling the traditional print media ads, while employees used another one for event, booth and sponsorship sales.
“Some were home-grown systems, some off the shelf,” says Rucker. “We needed to get those in one integrated workflow.”
The use of different management systems made it far more difficult – and less precise – when providing forecasting. Without one place for tracking clients from the sales and proposal process all the way through billing, there were areas of the organization that had gaps in its reporting and tracking efforts. It didn’t help that the Los Angeles, CA company also had a separate customer relationship management (CRM) tool. Its CRM could track its sales process, but then when it came to billing, it used a different software system. And, since 1105 Media offers a variety of ad solutions, on a multitude of platforms, it couldn’t track the sales and results of the ads in one place.
“It was really difficult to plan and forecast,” says Rucker, while discussing the downside to having so many systems working tangentially to one another. “It’s easier when you look at a legacy print business, when you’re selling one print ad. When you’re selling integrated packages, with a 360-approach, it’s a little difficult to build a pipeline.”
As a finance lead, Rucker depends on information from the sales team to develop forecasts to how the company will grow moving forward. He does this by understanding what the sales team has on the books and also what’s projected to succeed within the pipeline, what’s already been sold, and what’s billed. Rucker had little access to that information in one defined, easy-to-access location. It also meant the company had few ways to judge the performance of sales reps, other than the “gut feeling” you had about how the employee performs, added Rucker.
He knew it needed to change, and he wanted it fixed fast.
“Having implemented systems before, I put together a pretty aggressive timeline,” says Rucker.
By January – just two months after he started the process – 1105 had selected the Élan Ad software offered by Media Services Group (MSGL), which allowed him to pick and choose which tools and functions the company would need. Since the goal of the system upgrade was to find one unified solution, he decided to move all the workflow onto Élan, including the CRM, digital ad management, credit and collections, financials and reporting, among other areas of the organization.
“We took the whole package upfront,” adds Rucker. “We wanted exactly what Élan offered… from sales to billing to collection management and customer self-service.”
After making the choice, he set a July 1 as the target, which meant finalizing pre-planning, administration training and building the various tools to implement the software easily and securely before the go-live date. Rucker’s controller and digital production manager oversaw 1105 Media’s side of integration and implementation, while MSGL provided their experts to offer solutions and guidance, tapping into their years of industry experience. This was particularly useful in the weeks leading up to July, as training efforts heightened. MSGL’s team was “really responsive, configuring and tweaking the system, to meet our needs,” as sales teams and other parts of the organization got experience with the workflow, says Rucker.
By the July 4th weekend, the company had a fully integrated, and operational management system. This meant it had a single place to organize its business efforts, including:
- Tracking prospective clients, providing insight into the sales process and funnel
- Visibility of proposals, that allowed Rucker and his team to understand the opportunities ahead
- Invoicing daily, as opposed to waiting until the end of the month, which has expedited payments for 1105
- Analyzing results, which provide accurate, up-to-the moment analytics about the ad performance, pipeline efforts, and customer analysis
- Sending and signing contracts electronically, increasing the speed in confirming new projects
Among the most important changes, though, is the improvement in tracking the sales funnel, says Rucker. It not only allows sales managers to better track how their employees perform, it provides Rucker and his team far more insight into what’s happening throughout the organization, improving the data he uses for forecasting so 1105 Media can plan and prepare properly.
“I just think we moved to the 21st century, in terms of tools, technology and information, to make corrective actions early, and support key strategies to address a lot of our customers needs,” says Rucker. “A typical advertiser today is looking for multi-faceted offerings. We have all those [and can] now track, forecast and manage the process more efficiently.”