The proliferation of online news outlets has arguably turned the internet into the most competitive media market there’s ever been. “We can write great stories, and we can offer keen insights,” says Gareth Codd, Commercial Director for Fairfax New Zealand (NZ). “But, online or offline, we’re still going to need people to read them – and that means creating healthy, long-lasting customer relationships.”
“We were using Salesforce in some locations, different systems in others, and an alarming number of spreadsheets and Rolodexes too,” says Codd. “What we really needed was a single system to capture information about every customer interaction and make it available across the entire company.”
An internal study at Fairfax NZ found that the sales people were spending 56% of their time on administrative activities. Much of this time was spent trying to understand advertisers’ challenges before matching them with specific audiences – a process Codd was sure could be largely automated.
Codd hoped that an integrated platform would give Fairfax NZ a top-down view of its nationwide sales pipeline to help generate more accurate financial forecasts. He was also optimistic that a mobile solution would allow his employees to flexibly pursue new opportunities.
Fairfax NZ developed the ‘Licensed to Sell’ course – a three-day training program that all employees, from sales interns to the CEO, had to complete before using Salesforce.
“The initial trial, which had about 50 people, went remarkably well,” says Codd. “We initiated a nationwide roll-out, and now all 450 of our employees will be using the Salesforce Sales Cloud.”
According to Codd, the benefits of Salesforce were clear even during Fairfax NZ’s pilot. “For the first time, our Auckland manager had a complete view of his sales pipeline, including new leads, promising opportunities, and recent sales,” says Codd.
Importantly, with Salesforce, Fairfax NZ can identify standout sales staff members, as well as those who might need additional training. “We redefined the sales role to emphasise the pursuit of sales goals,” says Codd. “At the same time, our sales managers became more like coaches, using Salesforce to monitor their team’s performance and offer assistance when necessary.”
“Salesforce has allowed us to be more focused and supportive. It’s been a significant, but overwhelmingly positive, cultural change,” adds Codd.
“Before adopting Salesforce, it was often difficult for Fairfax NZ’s salespeople to see where they were in relation to their targets,” says Codd. “However, the Salesforce dashboards have brought an unprecedented degree of transparency to what was formerly a confusing process.”
Fairfax NZ has developed a ‘sales success index’ that takes into account the number of opportunities a salesperson has dealt with, the size of those opportunities, the salesperson’s win rate, and the number of days in each sales cycle. “Our algorithm turns this information into a score on each salesperson’s Salesforce dashboard,” says Codd. “So pursuing sales targets is as easy as ensuring that the number is kept within an optimal range.”
Codd stresses that the adoption of Salesforce at Fairfax NZ really has transformed the way he manages sales. “We’d love to talk about improved close rates, increased pipeline efficiency and so on,” he says. “However, the truth is that we had no way to even set benchmarks before adopting Salesforce.”
When asked about the mood at Fairfax NZ, Codd responds without hesitation. “We’re hugely optimistic,” he says. “We know the market, we know our customers and we know how best to pursue our sales targets.”