New Acxiom CEO Seeks To Bring Focus to Firm

by Jamie Walden  on Monday, Jul. 21, 2008 12:00 am  

In an exclusive interview with Arkansas Business, John Meyer details his changes at and plans for Acxiom.

Meyer had two reasons for creating the head of sales position.

First, he noticed that sales almost seemed like an ancillary function. "But everything really starts with a sale," Meyer said, "because if you don't have business, you don't have jobs for people. You don't have opportunities to push new things. So I really wanted to raise the profile of the sales function within Acxiom."

Second, Meyer saw that the sales function needed structure.

"We needed some discipline," he said. "We needed some discipline around how we compensated the people, how we measured their success, how we evaluated whether we wanted to pursue things or not, how we collected our pipeline so that we know what we were working on and the things we were working on were things we wanted to work on. And we didn't have that.

"I wanted to create an organization where I could turn to this person and say, 'You're accountable for this.'"

More than just the hierarchy of the sales department has been rewired. Meyer has implemented two different methods of compensation.

"Because of the way we were set up, there was kind of a blending between somebody that would manage an existing relationship and somebody that would be responsible for selling a new relationship," Meyer said.

"And when you do that, what you find - because it's much easier to just kind of shoot the fish in the barrel, do the renewals, than it is to go out and create new customers - if you're compensating people the same, people go to the place where they can get the greatest amount of benefit for the least amount of work."

Meyer, therefore, split the method of compensation into bonuses for the customer relationship managers and commissions for the hunters or relationship generators. "And I'm expecting that this will drive growth," Meyer said.

Growing Pains

For years, Acxiom was a staple on the "best places to work" lists, but that didn't last long after a series of layoffs starting in 1999.

For his part, Meyer said cutting jobs is a last resort.



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