Telluride vs. CSPI

Flashback to 14 months ago:  I am giving up my trip to Telluride for what: CSPI?

CSPI training promised DPTV’s corporate underwriting team would gain insights to presenting the PBS Value Proposition, increase critical product knowledge as well as learn about the media environment, and help us get underwriting contracts.

There was no way this could be worth giving up the hikes to the waterfalls, gondola rides through the autumn foliage and catching up with friends.

Plus, DPTV’s team already had a strong sales background, knew the media environment and was doing pretty well bringing sponsors to the station.  How could this be that new or different?

Here is the reality: things are different now than when I started. It is a flat-out trickier environment:  Decision makers are swamped, lots of media out there can offer solutions to client needs, and there isn’t the traditional gatekeeper to help you get to the right person.  (I remember when they were the enemy).

Problem 1: It’s not that we have too little to offer.  Quite the opposite.  The PBS portfolio and our community driven engagement brings an over-abundance of benefits we can present to a client.  Sometimes we end up throwing the kitchen sink at a prospect.  That’s a mission fail.

Problem 2: “IT’S A NUMBERS GAME,” right? Well what happens when you don’t get a reply to the first, second, or third email or phone message for dozens of prospects.  Like the cartoon in the New Yorker when the prospect tells the seller:  “How about never – is never good for you?”  You might start to question your ability to “do the job.”

CSPI training helps with both problems:

  1. Most importantly, the workshop trains you to understand the media environment and carefully consider PBS’ UNIQUE benefit to solving a problem for the client.  What can only we, the PBS station, do for them?  There is true magic to that.   Suddenly we have no competition.
  2. Prospects demand you now speak to them through email, but what do you do when someone doesn’t reply?  Based on the CSPI training you send them an IVS.

IVS stands for Initial Value Statement.  You do some research on their industry, their company and their job role.  You write a few sentences conveying that you feel their pain.  Yes, you have solutions that only PBS can bring.

And here is the thing: CSPI training arms you with pages of compelling research from which you choose specific proof points to back-up your claims and address client needs.  It helps you understand the best fits based on case studies and your own prospect list.  Then you practice in teams and get good at pulling this process throughout the entire sales cycle, past “message approval” and all the way to renewals.

It results in an extremely professional approach and the client rewards you with a reply, and much of the time – an appointment.  You already dug deep to write the IVS and that creates a framework for the conversation you will have over the desk.

Two examples:

  • DPTV had tried repeatedly to get a meeting with a major automotive equipment manufacturer in our area – a huge company that seemed to support every non-profit under the sun except us.  Emails, phone calls, VP to VP contacts all went unanswered.  I will never forget the moment I sent an IVS to the CMO and my phone rang literally only seconds after I had hit “send” on the email.  They called me!! The conversation went on to detail the hidden parameters we needed to fit within for their support.
  • And a few months ago I was close to budget but needed one more big win.  I teed up an email to a major manufacturer’s community giving executive.  Their money is invested globally and we just happen to be local.  Prior results had been very hit and miss with them over the years and face meetings notoriously difficult to schedule.  IVS #1 sent to key person:  No reply.  OK, let’s change the value proposition, that must not have been on target.  IVS #2 sent:  Immediate reply, phone conversation scheduled, then face meeting, then order.  And right on time for the budget deadline.

PBS has so much to offer a client.  This training gives you the tools.  It’s fun and pays dividends day in and day out.  It puts an end to procrastination because you have the confidence and the skill to get the appointment and the sponsor support.

This year, in Telluride, chilling after a grueling hike, someone asked me where I was last year.  I told them ‘I was at the best sales training I had experienced in 30 years.’  They gave me a look like they didn’t believe it.  I wouldn’t have believed it either.

Stephen J. Danowski | Director of Development, Corporate Underwriting | Detroit Public TV

If you have questions or would like to know about upcoming sessions of CSPI, please contact Beth Drake.