When Reputation Is Not Enough
Peter Priebe, EVP and CFO for WATG, a global architectural firm, had a challenge that many executives face. He had a highly motivated team of exceptional professionals. However, the team were predominantly architects who are inherently creative in nature, which created great value for their clients. However, the firm had a need to strengthen the commercial skills of its team to adequately drive new business. “For so many years, our growth was driven by our reputation. But like many industries, ours has become increasingly competitive. When once we were one of three firms bidding on projects, we now face six or more firms competing each time. Our team had to reassess how we were targeting, winning and retaining clients.”
Peter, along with senior management, consulted with Steve Giglio to create a training program that would increase the company’s business acumen and understanding of market conditions. “Steve immediately engaged our senior leadership team and determined how they went about pitching our value proposition. He quickly realized that while each office’s markets were nuanced, many of the issues were the same. He set out to resolve those common issues so that our teams would have more confidence when in front of clients – current or potential.”
Steve created a program that required WATG professionals to actively listen first, determine the client’s pain points and “stay in the pain” to help find a way to overcome the challenges. As Steve notes, “I advise clients frequently that they need to become trusted advisors or they risk being commoditized. The latter was happening to WATG but it wasn’t too late to reverse that course.”
Peter reports that the team reacted very positively to the training. “One of Steve’s great strengths is being able to assess individuals and groups very quickly. He captured our team’s attention within minutes, earning their trust. After that, we could get to work and make the most of the time we had together.”
The WATG team is now delivering presentations with greater confidence in a single company voice while also tailoring recommendations to their clients’ needs. “Perhaps the best thing Steve imparted to the team was that clients already know how good we are because of our reputation and experience, so we don’t need to tell them. What we need to discover is how our expertise can help them. That is what will set us apart.”
Simplifying Core Values
Laura Davidson knows how to attract and close business. She’s been doing it for more than 20 years and has built Laura Davidson Public Relations (LDPR) into one of the country’s leading luxury travel PR firms. Just check out their client list!
But, her concern was that her team, made up of strong publicists who regularly garner press coverage for clients in national and international publications, lacked the skillset to do what she does….sell LDPR! “I needed a clone of me…maybe two or three…so that I didn’t always have to be in the room when initially talking to potential clients. I had all this knowledge from past experiences in my head but they didn’t. I needed some way to script my pitch for my team so I could set them up for success.”
Steve and Laura set to work on the company’s value proposition and new business presentation. They analyzed competitors to understand how agencies were presenting their capabilities. Steve then distilled LDPR’s core competencies into those representing a true competitive advantage that would translate to client value. “We had four slides in our deck about our skills and values. Steve refined it to one, and those key points – ie our ‘DNA’ — really are the difference between us and our competitors.”
Steve then re-engineered the way LDPR conducted conversations with potential clients. He knew it was important for them to listen first, sell second. “We would spend far too much time talking about ourselves in the first 15-20 minutes. Steve turned that around so that we would be able to understand what was mission critical to our clients first and then be able to deliver what they wanted. We crafted a solid list of probing questions to draw out even more key information. From there, we would have a much better understanding of what clients needed and could make more strategic recommendations.”
Since working with Steve, LDPR has closed 90 percent of new business opportunities.
“We secured a great new client just weeks after working with Steve. They said we demonstrated a better understanding of their business, asked intelligent questions and made strong, realistic recommendations. I was quite impressed with my team, they took the training to heart and it made a difference. Steve has given my LDPR team the tools to help drive the business forward.”
Sell to the Toughest 100 Customers
American Express had challenged their sales team to sign the top 100 companies that were NOT currently accepting their card as payment by customers. In fact, these big name brands had declined several attempts Amex had already made to sign them up. Jim Berrien, then the head of New Business Partnerships at American Express, knew he need help developing a team that would achieve that seemingly impossible goal.
“I brought Steve in but I was a demanding client,” said Berrien. “Very quickly, he impressed me with his knowledge and forthright manner. I argued with him and it never threw him off center. He remained focused. We got to work.”
“My team rallied, took the coaching in stride and signed all 100 of them. Steve was an integral part of that,” says Berrien. He explains that AMEX had several new sales people who simply did not know how to sell. Steve instructed the whole team about how to create a story based on the customers needs so that they could be matched to AMEX’s core value proposition, which he helped the team define clearly. It worked. Most of those “hard to get” clients remain AMEX clients today, a lasting legacy of Berrien’s determination and his decision to work with Steve…a decision he made several more times throughout his career.
“Steve’s humor, his resiliency and his ability to disarm skeptical teams who then accept him as being on their side is incredible. Every time I’ve hired Steve to work with my sales teams, they have made the company money. It’s that simple.”
Fear of Public Speaking
Dena Young, Integrated Account Director for Allure Magazine, has confidently led successful marketing teams for many years, all the while hiding a fear that many share: public speaking. Young dreaded speaking in front of groups and lacked the confidence to feel she could do it well.
“I’ve never been comfortable with public speaking. It’s something that is a part of my career but I can’t say that I liked that aspect much!”
Young knew she needed to overcome this fear and thought it would be a good opportunity for her and the rest of the team to improve their skills as well. With that as a goal, her management leaders contacted Steve Giglio for an outsider’s perspective and presentation training tips. Within the first hour, Steve let the team know that he would be using videotaping as a tool for helping them learn their own delivery style and see where it could be improved. Young had one reaction to that: “Ugh!!”
Many on the team, including Young, had never seen themselves deliver a presentation or conduct a sales conversation with a client. “Seeing is believing,” says Giglio. “The camera doesn’t lie so, it gives us a foundation that breaks the barrier between how effective people think they are versus what they are really doing.”
“Immediately, I was impressed with Steve,” said Young, “and knew that this was going be public speaking and sales training at a much higher level than I had expected. He had done his homework and was able to talk our language, which got everyone’s attention…especially with the ‘threat’ of videotaping!”
Videotaping is just one part of the sales training program that Steve created for the Allure team. “My overall goal was to create more confidence for the individuals on the team,’ Giglio says. “They all knew their stuff and are very smart people. They just needed to have confidence in how they delivered their recommendations so the could do so strongly and with authority.”
Young says it worked. “I feel like I really own what I’m talking about now. The structure for meeting preparation Steve guided us through made a difference team-wide. And the videotaping showed us how to improve our delivery. Personally, I have a lot more confidence now with speaking in public because of his training and I see it in the rest of the team, too.”
“I think that Steve is amazing and has a great talent. Whenever I have a challenge, including when I’m speaking publicly, I hear him in the back of my head. His tough love challenges me to be better, even when he’s not in the room with me.”
Asking the Right Questions
Vanity Fair’s advertising sales department is regularly called on for services normally reserved for advertising agencies. Clients demand full marketing campaigns, from creative design direction to online banners to interactive marketing campaigns. This new paradigm means a new language for the sales team, something they needed to master quickly. “In order to the get the right answers, we had to be asking the right questions. We brought in Steve and he made that happen,” said Edward Menicheschi, Publisher. Steve’s goal was to alter how the sales team was viewed, moving from product vendors to trusted business consultants.
Vanity Fair’s team now finds news sales opportunities beyond its traditional channel of ad space. Team members consistently ask 20 to 30 questions when addressing a new client or handling a request from an existing one, uncovering new revenue generating sources. They excel at understanding clients marketing goals and can tailor programs that meet those needs. “Steve has provided new language that has allowed our teams to find sales opportunities and grow our services to increase our relevancy, which is so important today. Our teams communicate our value better and it has lead to many more closed deals.
A Change in Direction
Executives at the Harry Fox Agency, the premier music licensing agent for music publishers in the United States, needed to enhance their current revenue stream with alternatives. The music industry has been evolving and they needed to provide sales training to key staff and ultimately the whole company, to be ahead of the changes. They faced a common challenge: creating and communicating effective messaging about their value proposition that would resonate with both their current and potential clients.
Michele Olton, Senior Vice President, Human Resources, and Administration brought in Steve Giglio to help address the company’s directional shift. Steve worked with the firms executive team creating key messages and storyboarding the company’s core values. Message points were boiled down to five key elements. A presentation was crafted for the company’s staff that work on publisher affiliation and new business development. Steve lead sales training sessions focusing on active listening, probing for understanding and effective and consist delivery of the presentation.
Using videotaping and peer critique, Steve raised the team’s confidence, making it easier to deliver the content. “They loved it and found Steve to be very effective,” said Olton.
“He used direct feedback, insight, expertise, and humor to get our team engaged in the training. Quickly earning their confidence, he set to work on getting results. It worked.” The Results Response to Steve’s training was music to Olton’s ears. “Our team saw that winging it just wasn’t going to fly. They needed to work at due diligence, understanding our clients’ needs by asking the right questions. They could then tailor the message to the “pain points” that most addressed the client’s situation. The presentation Steve helped us craft created an invaluable foundation for all our sales calls. Our team put it to use right away.”
Selling with a Process
Ted Gramkow, Vice President, Strategic Sales and Marketing, InterMedia Outdoors, has worked with Steve Giglio while at several companies including American Express Publishing and Red Herring magazine. And it was always for the same reason: “consistency. “Our teams were successful but they had a ‘selling by the seat of their pants’ approach,” says Gramkow. “It was working but no one knew why and it could not easily be replicated by new team members.
Gramkow now relies on Steve Giglio’s sales training programs to convert salespeople into business consultants, with far more emphasis on learning the client’s business rather than aggressive selling. And the result is that his teams create relationships with senior decision makers, deliver consistent messages and ultimately drive more sales.
More Sales for Time Out New York
Time Out New York, the definitive magazine and online source covering everything there is to experience in New York City, had grown its sales team from 5 to 10 people. Alison Tocci, Group Publisher, knew her whole team would benefit from sales training. “I believe in proper and ongoing sales training. Otherwise, salespeople are put out into the world without the tools they need to succeed.”
Steve Giglio tailored a sales system for Time Out New York that focused on taking time to research current and potential clients and the competitive landscape. He also developed a customizable list of probing questions that helped teams determine areas of opportunity. “Steve created the process in which our salespeople ask at least 10 questions before talking about Time Out,” says Tocci. “It engages the client and lets them know that their business is important to us.”
Sales improved immediately. “I give Steve Giglio a lot of credit,” says Tocci. “He helped our team members benefit from the investment we made in their future. I would highly recommend Steve to anyone.”
Pascal Guignard of American Express Europe has known Steve Giglio for more than 15 years. “Before I first worked with Steve Giglio, I thought I was a very good salesperson,” he says. “I had a great deal of confidence in my abilities. Then he showed me the reality and I knew I had some work to do.”
Guignard was communicating different messages through his words, body language, eye contact and attention to client questions. Steve started by honing sales fundamentals, something he stresses in all of his sales training programs. He created a system for preparing for each sales call, learning about the client’s business and competition, and how to tailor a sales presentation.
Guignard increased his confidence, generated more sales and quickly grew his role at Amex. Having personally benefited from working with Steve Giglio, Guignard brought him in to work with his teams. Now the Amex teams are well prepared, effective, assertive, motivated and, ultimately, more confident.
“I am continuously amazed at the level of detail Steve brings to his training sessions,” says Guignard. “He knows our business. And that inspires our teams to mirror Steve’s level of professionalism and integrity. Steve makes a big difference long after he’s done with the training.”