I first completed the CSPI training as a salesperson in 2017. Having spent many years on the public radio side, I was very familiar with the value proposition of public media, but PBS and television was new to me. I found using the IVS process very helpful in focusing the scope of “why I’m calling” a particular industry. Plus, it was easily transferable from one industry/business type to the next.
So, when I heard that the CSPI program was creating a mentor/mentee program I was thrilled to be able to offer myself as a mentor.
I was matched with Crissy Nettles, from WSRE in Pensacola FL. WRSE had been without a FT corporate support person since 2011. There was no formal infrastructure or “sales” culture at the station. Further, there was no CRM, prospect list and very few current on-air clients. The bulk of their current clients were event based, tied to an annual weekend fundraising event.
The good news about this situation: Nowhere to go but up!
The bad news about this situation: A lot of time spent on more fundamental, internal things than mastering the IVS process.
For example, I worked with her to help figure out the best way to have a CRM system since there weren’t’ any at the station. I guided her through a free online CRM that she could use. I suggested ways to input information, where to place notes and schedule next steps. We also spent a fair amount of time discussing the internal station issues she was dealing with. Since her position was for all intents and purposes, a “new” one, she was often placed in the position of asking for help with things such as order fulfillment, accountability, and deadlines. There were also unclear expectations on her role as it pertained to things outside of her sales measurables and responsibilities. (i.e. “We need you to spend two days helping us set up for an event.”) And of course, no PBS corporate sponsorship conversation would be complete without discussing copy. So, yeah, we discussed copy.
All of that being said, we were able to spend some time focusing on prospecting, brainstorming, IVS, and general sales mentoring! This is the fun stuff!
I would say that the successes fell into two categories: getting familiar with the behaviors selling public media and getting familiar with the best techniques of selling public media.
The behaviors included setting up a CRM, establishing a prospect list, understanding the value of public media, understanding the process from cold call to seeing the client on-air. She did create an online CRM to take ownership of her business and help organize and plan her behaviors. After understanding the unique value of PBS, she could connect that with her understanding of the business landscape of her area to best create a prospect list. After understanding what she needed to do internally to execute an agreement she had the confidence to move forward.
We then focused on the techniques. The CSI training was paramount to us having a clear understanding of how to get new business. It provided us a common language. We were able to collaborate and create IVS’s that were focused on the PBS value as well as the unique opportunities that were in her geographical area. Of course, there were industries that are SOP for a PBS station (healthcare, education, senior services, etc..) but we also created IVS’s for industries such as amusement parks and vacation rental properties which are plentiful in the Pensacola area.
Unfortunately, the lack of internal sales infrastructure, limited sales experience and an industry learning curve placed Chrissy at a slower growth pace at no fault of her own. Chrissy was all-in and a diligent professional. While we didn’t have one stand-out IVS success story to tout, she accomplished a lot and planted seeds that I’m confident would have led to even more significant growth in underwriting for the station.
Let’s look at her growth numbers even with what she had to work with:
For entire fiscal year of 2017-2018 (June-July) WSRE had 43k in underwriting. In only nine months of fiscal 2018/2019, Crissy sold 62k in underwriting. That’s a 45% increase in a shorter amount of time.
During the same comparison, Crissy sold 40k in their Children’s Event Sponsorship, compared to only 5k the entire fiscal year before she arrived! That’s a 700% increase, for the record.
Although our Mentor/Mentee relationship ended early when Crissy moved on to another opportunity in March, the experience was valuable to me as it kept me sharp and provided opportunities to think about my business. Sometimes when we’ve been doing something for a while, we can forget the basics and best practices. Being a mentor for Crissy helped keep me focused on ways to improve my own business. As they say: the best way to learn is to teach.