Over the past few months we’ve written about how a poor or incomplete digital workflow and process can be costly to your business. It results in employee frustration, unhappiness and malicious compliance. Or, in the worst cases, you get non-compliance, difficulty in managing employees, loss of products and revenue, additional cost in dollars and logistical issues.

In these blog posts we highlighted different parts of workflow, what parts of your organization are affected and the negative aspects when it doesn’t go well. In the next few posts we’ll flip the script. Let’s discuss how a digital process and workflow system can help your business.

We will give you the key to fixing this problem once and for all, so you stop throwing good money after bad. Enough of the workflow patch job! Invest in a system that works.

We’ll start at the top, for simplicity. In our first blog post we laid out the issues in depth: the effect workflow has across the organization, from sales to local and corporate teams.

Good Salespeople Want to Sell!

Salespeople, though often the loudest when things don’t go well in your organization, are typically the easiest to help. To do so, simply make their lives easy. I will say this again and a little louder, MAKE THEIR LIVES EASY! It really is that simple.

When thinking about workflow and the sales organization, don’t make your salespeople duplicate work. Simple tasks become overly-complex, like logging into more than one system or platform. Don’t make them fill in fields more than once. For example, if they enter clients’ names somewhere, it should carry over everywhere. It’s a critical and important piece of workflow.

Your salespeople are just that, salespeople. They need to sell, not sit at their desk tied to paperwork or on the phone explaining how to manage processes. Good salespeople want to be on the street selling. The bad ones, on the other hand, use your mountain of forms as productive procrastination.

A good workflow platform solves these problems. Your good salespeople sell, and make more money for the organization. And the bad salespeople are exposed, so you can replace them with good ones. Win-Win-Win for everyone.

I know what you’re thinking: “It’s not that easy.” True. If it was, this wouldn’t be an industry-wide issue. But, with the right system, creating a solution doesn’t have to be difficult.

Let’s Break It Down

Workflow has three main parts:

  • The Inputs – The information your salespeople, planners and managers enter into the system
  • The Work – What happens to that information, who acts on it, and how specifically do they use it?
  • The Outputs – What does the system give us to share with our salespeople and their clients? As a manager don’t you want to know, in one keystroke, what products make money and which salespeople sell what they should, and at what rate?   

For the remainder of this post we’ll focus on inputs and your salespeople. Later posts will cover the importance of what happens in the middle of the process, and the numerous available outputs.

Inputs and Your Salespeople

Order Entry

The first, and most basic, input is the client entry. There are basic systems that organize the name, email and phone number, all the way to systems that function as a true CRM. There is probably value in both. However, for our conversation, does the information entered into the client database or entry tool go somewhere else?

Once this data is entered, does the system allow your salespeople to input the rest of the account information, like what was sold and how to run it? If not, it’s probably not a good solution for workflow. Trying to make it one will fail.

No one sells just one form of media anymore. Even if you want to simplify and sell digital only, there are hundreds of options, and an equal number of platforms and tools.

  • When your account executives sell your owned and operated inventory, do they have to enter that into a different ad server than the extended display and/or video? Or must your AEs enter the revenue in one place, and the order in another?
  • What about targeted email? Is that the same platform and O&O?
  • Social media advertising: What about social media management or reputation monitoring?

This list goes on, with all the different digital products.

Many people don’t just sell digital advertising, but also have a traditional media budget utilizing newspaper, radio or television. Most traditional media AE’s have both a digital and traditional budget. They are trained to sell this as one solution or one media plan.

But can they enter this into your systems that way? Or is it just that system, where they must enter their traditional piece of the media buy into one system and the digital into another?

At the end of the day, why do you need a different system for traditional media and digital? Isn’t it all media, bought similarly enough that an SAAS system could do the calculations and make it work? If not, are you using the correct system?

You Need a System That Works

Asset Collection and Direction

Executing media campaigns of any type, for advertisers of any size, requires many pieces: logos, colors, URLs, product descriptions and photos, UTM codes, logins and passwords, zip codes and demographics, etc.

Do your clients want a designated DMA or city, or a radius around their location? Or some combination? Who do they want to target? Is the target differentiated by creative? By product? By each location being targeted?

There are so many specific instructions. And getting just one wrong can ruin a long-standing relationship. When the process is this important to the client relationship, and to your business’s success, do you want salespeople, or worse yet a coordinator, entering information more than once? Or even more mistake prone, using the “Save As” function on a Word or Excel document to save time?

If your workflow platform doesn’t allow for asset collection and campaign direction to happen one time, in one place, find one that does.

Some systems not only do all of this, they also let you easily get a second set of eyes on all inputs. How nice would it be to have your key stakeholders approve insertion orders before they move to the next level? Or have your ad operations or account management teams ensure you have the creative and direction your teams need before work starts?

The definition of insanity is said to be “doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results.” Isn’t this what we do: expect old or cobbled-together workflow systems to do the work needed today?

Stick with us for the next month and we’ll pull the whole workflow picture together for you.

In our next post we’ll explore the “work” part of workflow. Once all the client, account and campaign directions are collected, then what? How do we assign work, make sure work gets done on time, and make it completely transparent to stakeholders?

         INPUT                                                      WORK                                               OUTPUT