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By Brooke Schleter posted 20 days ago

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MENTOR: @Stephen Danowski 

Director, Business Development & Corporate Underwriting
DPTV | Detroit, MI

MENTEE: @Brooke Schleter 
Director of Corporate Development
WNIN | Evansville, IN 

At PBS CSPI Mentor/Mentee Match Day, September 2018, we recognized both of us loved the “Game of Sales’ and often nerd-out on research in the sales process. A year’s worth of Mentor/Mentee conversations unfolded, and we focused as much on renewal of support as new business. Here are the Top-Ten highlights we learned along the way.


Brooke: First and foremost, my goal was to secure at least 1 sales meeting per month.  I hadn’t been able to get new business appointments and that was a tremendous goal for me.  Now I am often having 1-3 sales meeting per week.

We frequently talked about getting new business appointments at first.  We focused on pulling in the CSPI success formula and finding a relaxed style that felt right for Brooke while incorporating a few tried and true ideas to keep it fresh.



1. Hard sell. Soft sell.
The soft sell keeps a conversation personal as the relationship is built.

e.g. “Hi Mike, great seeing you at that event last week. Here’s a link to a video our education team posted on Facebook, just one of the ways we are continually reaching out to Millennial Moms with trusted PBS content. Take care.”
Lesson learned:  Approach them with hard sell. Circle back with soft sell. Repeat. Get the basic CSPI logic flow down and then add your own creativity.

2. Stay true to the logic flow.

CSPI training equips us to structure logic flows with precise needs identification. But even with casual communication we can use key-word PBS values, e.g. ‘Community-Facing’, ‘Trusted by Moms,’ ‘Reaching an Unduplicated Audience.’ 
Lesson learned:  Keep pointing to the unique differentiator and the close, even if it’s subtle.


Brooke:  My new business efforts took off.  One success I was really excited to share was a local auto dealer at $11,500/quarter – a dealer that had heard (and declined) several pitches over the last several years. Over the course of several meetings with the dealer I got creative with deliverables and closed the deal.  The CSPI training and monthly mentor conversations were what made this sponsorship happen. 
Stephen:  We were excited about this sales victory – and immediately Brooke wanted to strategize towards renewal.  Every success brings with it the pressure to renew.  New players enter the scene, funder budget pressures crop up, and it hurts to say it:  sometimes we get a “No.”



3. Get the sponsor plugged in.
A sponsor had been contributing $2,000 annually. Getting the client involved at the station led to increased support of $11,300 annually, then the client’s parent company came on-air with additional support of $15,000.

Lesson learned:  Employ the CSPI Conversation Model and get the client plugged in with events and volunteering. Develop a relationship.

4. Don’t go down without a fight.

A client expressed their wish to “significantly” decrease their sponsorship. Instead we asked “WHY?” and re-engaged the sponsor. Then we reframed the sponsorship at a slightly lower level – not the reduction originally requested.
Lesson learned:  A client expressing doubts is an opportunity to the redefine their business needs and reframe your solution.  

5. Bring home the bacon with the unique differentiator.

Sometimes we turned the IVS inside out to make it casual and focus on getting the prospect’s attention. But we always sandwiched in a proof point and a unique differentiator. 
Lesson learned:  If the IVS were a BLT, the ‘Unique Differentiator” would be the bacon – kind of the whole point.



Brooke:  One takeaway for me was learning how to tighten the logic flow in my sales presentations and day-to-day communications so that the information I provide is relevant, concise, and connected to the client’s particular business need(s).  That has gone a long way towards helping me build more meaningful relationships with clients.
Stephen:  One of my key takeaways was to relearn those magic little touches that keep prospect and funder relationships fresh. I can get carried away with pushing qualitative research in my follow ups. Yes, that’s very important, but so are the little personal touches.


6. Keep sponsors engaged.
The real work begins after the sponsorship is secured. Keep in touch with your sponsors: spot times, notes, invites, seasonal touches, e.g. herb seeds in spring, a bag of organic apples in the fall.

Lesson learned:  It’s a relationship – not a one-way funding support.

7. It’s not always about you. 
Learning about the sponsor’s needs is the only way to frame effective solutions– which means most of the time you will talk about your sponsor, not your station. 

Lesson learned:  New business and renewals are based on asking smart questions, then listening and delivering – not pushing a sales package.

8. How to Upsell
JarofLightning.pngDon’t just ask for more money. If you’re going to propose an increase, make sure you’ve added something special that truly addresses their needs. In other words, don’t just add an extra ROS spot on Tuesdays.

Lesson learned:  Talk about where the client wants to go.  Pay attention. Somewhere in there is the lightening you can capture in a bottle.

9. Don’t be busy. Be productive.   
Plan your year in sales pillars. It’s difficult to switch from selling PBS KIDS to NPR to Antiques Roadshow in a single afternoon. 
Also, check out David Allen’s Getting Things Done and Making it all Work.

Lesson Learned: Stay in the same lane long enough to understand a category.

Dragon.png10. Gamification of the sales process fights burnout.
At Brooke’s suggestion, Stephen bought a used Xbox 360 and a used copy of the Skyrim game.  He was ready to fight the dragon that was decimating the castle courtyard, but first needed to jump over a log.  Trapped, he was unable to get past this first hurdle.  It wasn’t until Monday that Brooke offered the solution:  Press the “Y” button. It makes the character jump. Brooke was similarly boxed in when trying to get new business appointments. But then came CSPI to the rescue offering its solution:
hit the prospect’s “WHY” button.
Lesson learned: Playing corporate support bingo, offering yourself a reward for every few IVS’s sent, setting mini-goals and checkpoints throughout your day– all of this fights burnout and fosters perseverance.





20 hours ago

I would love to see the car dealer campaign, that's always a tough category for us at MPT. Congrats!

20 days ago

Great points, all!  I am making this required reading for my team.

20 days ago

Great post! I love the idea of gamifying sales to keep it fun and engaging. I also love: "If the IVS were a BLT, the ‘Unique Differentiator” would be the bacon – kind of the whole point." Well done!