E! SELLS TO LARGE AUDIENCES (SEE THE RESULTS ON TV)
Most sales professionals believe they can sell to anyone one-on-one. But that’s often not the case when you put them in front of a whole audience of prospects. Self-consciousness or fear of public speaking can leave even the smoothest sales pro unable to take full advantage of these major opportunities. If your salespeople make presentations to groups, they may benefit from special training. Such training paid big dividends for E! Networks.
One of the most popular entertainment news outlets, E! Networks (E!) comprises the E! entertainment Television cable channel, its companion Web site, and Style, a fashion news cable channel. With its large audience and young demographic, E! has a lot to offer advertisers. Every March and April, E!’s sales force makes presentations to major advertisers such as Revlon, Anheuser-Busch and General Motors. The audience may include representatives of the advertiser, their advertising agency, and other consultants. The success of these presentations has a great impact on annual sales, so it is crucial that E!’s sales reps have sharp presentation skills.
“Understand their needs — and show them you understand their needs — before presenting solutions.”
— Brett Miles
Neil Baker is senior vice-president of sales for E! Networks. When he joined E! two years ago, his primary goal was to build “the best sales force in television.” When he attended his first major sales presentations, he found that his salespeople, although experienced, did not do as well as he expected. They knew how to sell successfully one-on-one, but did not have all the necessary skills to be equally effective in group presentations.
AUDIENCES WANT YOU TO SUCCEED
A firm believer in improving performance through training, Baker consulted Brett Miles of Milestones, Inc. The first step in the process was for the sales staff to complete a “MFS (Managing For Success)™ assessment,” which helped them understand their individual approaches to presenting information. Some learned that they gave out a lot of information, while others went straight to the bottom line. Some learned that they were too talkative, others that they didn’t say enough. The assessments helped prepare them for a one-day workshop created and presented by Brett Miles.
At the workshop Brett concentrated on how to adapt existing sales skills to group presentations. Participants learned to trust themselves as presenters and to acknowledge that audiences want them to succeed. As in one-on-one selling, the key is to connect to the audience by making eye contact and interacting with them. “It’s just as important to establish rapport with 50 prospects as it is with one,” says Brett. “You must understand their needs - and show them that you understand their needs – before presenting them with solutions. I call that selling before telling.”
According to Baker, the group reacted to the clear and direct training with a high degree of participation. “Brett was well-prepared and his execution was excellent,” said Baker. “The net take-away from the workshop was very strong.” Improvement in the sales group’s performance was dramatic. Baker attended all of the most recent major presentations. “I saw people who were well-rehearsed and comfortable,” says Baker, “a big difference over the previous year’s presentations.” Even more telling, many of E!’s advertising clients commented favorably, giving the presenters high marks. That may not seem as exciting as the show biz gossip on E!, but to Baker and his sales staff, it’s hot news.