My experience in the CSPI Mentorship program was informative, inspiring, and encouraging. I was paired very well with my mentor, Kim Shefferly, who guided me through rough patches, advised me on making the most out of renewals, and celebrated my successes with me.
Having come from fundraising rather than a strong sales history, I needed Kim’s help frequently to polish my approach to clients. Kim helped me think of creative ways to package opportunities and approach specific clients. She advised me on communication styles to better set meetings, and ways to create a sense of urgency to close deals when I wasn’t getting a response.
From Kim, I learned a lot about adding value and creating opportunities for clients that maximized their partnership with the station. I secured many new clients we’d been working on for years because of her help.
It’s also important to note that having Kim as a mentor not only taught me technique and planning; it gave me someone to commiserate with over industry-specific issues no one else at my station could fully understand. Kim was a mentor in just about every way; a teacher, a therapist, a counselor, a coach, and a peer.
I can’t recommend this program enough. I will take the skills I acquired with Kim’s help and be able to apply them to corporate support, and all facets of fundraising as well.
What an amazing and fulfilling year it has been in the inaugural PBS Mentor Program! I was fortunate to become paired up with April Pendergraft from KNPB in Reno. Upon our introductory meeting at PBS in September 2018, we both knew we would be a good match.
April was fairly new to KNPB, being in her position less than a year – and eager to grow in her corporate support role. With her background working at other non-profits (including public radio), April said she “found her calling” with focusing solely on corporate partnerships. As a mentee, the areas April wanted to concentrate on were: effectively communicating the value of PBS, overcoming discouragement of rejection and most importantly-closing the deal. April expressed that she had some “relationship repairing” to do with past sponsors, as she filled a position that had been open and somewhat neglected for quite some time. Unlike most stations, April operates as a team of one as KNPB’s only Corporate Account Executive.
To kick things off, April and I came up with a game plan for our upcoming year. We’d hold a phone meeting at least twice per month, where April would “have the floor” to let me know what she needed help with. I’d follow up each call with an email to summarize our conversation for record-keeping purposes and also to provide insight and suggestions tailored to her specific requests. I made it clear to April that she was welcome and encouraged to reach out to me anytime between calls – if she had questions, needed assistance or simply wanted to “vent”.
During our early months in the Mentor Program, April and I strategized ways to come up with new leads, qualify prospects, secure meetings and effectively land new sponsorships. Based upon my personal experiences, one of the first suggestions I gave April was to refine her focus on targeting prospects most likely to purchase certain programs/packages…the “low-hanging fruit”. In other words, have something very specific in mind when making the initial contact-to grab their attention and stand out among other sales reps. One way to do this would be to take a particular program (like KNPB’s Wild Nevada) and block time to reach out to a list of the most qualified and fitting prospects.
From the beginning and throughout our mentor/mentee relationship, April continued to express to me her biggest frustration-a prospect showing a lot of initial interest in what she was selling, only to have things fizzle out and not come to fruition. So, I helped April craft unique strategies for “creating a sense of urgency” with her pipeline of prospects. This really paid off for April-literally and figuratively-as she used these tactics to secure a $22,000 contract with a new client! I believe this was a real confidence booster for April, as she continued to improve her sales numbers.
One of the key takeaways of the Mentor Program is finding out that we all share many of the same struggles, obstacles and frustrations across the board – and across the country. By mentoring April, I was able to grow in my own professional development as a manager, incorporating a new confidence and set of skills for leading my team. Thank you, PBS!