Endeavor CRO details how the company now sells very successfully – and profitably – across brands

SIIA Media Alert: In the press release to announce your recent promotion, it said you had established a unique framework for selling across brands. Can you talk about that?

Paul Andrews, CRO, Endeavor Business Media: Sure. [Endeavor CEO] Chris [Ferrell] engaged with this consulting firm out of New York, and one of the key findings was that they recognized we were leaving a lot of money on the table because we were so siloed. If you were a seller representing this brand, yes, we had somewhat of a spiffed type of program that if you let your colleague in another organization or vertical know about an opportunity, we hopefully got that business. And as a result of them saying literally, one of their top three key findings was, you need to do something about that? So they tapped me on the shoulder and said, ‘Paul, figure it out?’ And having been in sales and marketing for my entire career, I knew that all roads would have to start with the compensation plan.

So I created a structure where it was all carrots, no sticks. It involved our sellers who are on the street, our publishers, our executive team, where we were all driving for the same thing because the key was, we knew we had to change behavior. Here are folks—legacy sellers that have been on brands 10, 15 years—and they didn’t even realize… we’re now up to approximately 150 brands, 80 of which are media. And then we have live events in all different formats, trade shows, conferences hosted by our summits. And we had to figure out, as I said, how do we get that person thinking of 149 other brands?

What did you do next?

Paul Andrews: I created [a plan], with a lot of input—I literally interviewed 65 people internally, of all different persuasions and disciplines and saying, ‘Hey, this is what I need to achieve. Give me your two cents.’ And we came up with a framework that basically said, when you sell outside of your own brand, you are going to get a piece of the action toward your comp plan for that first year. So instead of just a $300 spiff, the more you sell in that first year, we’re going to put that 50% of the revenue toward your own compensation plan and the receiving party whoever’s territory that is on that other brand. They’re going to get the other 50%.

We don’t split commissions. We split revenue because everybody has different comp plans. Right? So we did that. We incented the publishers from the perspective of, ‘Hey, Mr. Ms. Publisher, the more your sellers cross-sell, the greater your bonus structure will be as well. So everybody was working in the same mode from a compensation perspective. But then we also knew, okay, it’s one thing having a great plan. Now, what do we do from here? And that included things like, just tremendous amounts of collaboration and really getting that shelf space where we were utilizing every means possible to train them on the program, and then to reinforce the program so that I had a bi-weekly, corporate-wide sales message. We have approximately 150 sellers at Endeavor now. So I was routinely communicating with them—the wins, [etc.]—just to build momentum up. [There’s a] Leader Board letting you know who has cross-sold the most.

Was that the key, the communication?

Paul Andrews: It was that constant reinforcement of the program in our corporate newsletter—and then we started doing all the reports and share on a minute-by-minute basis. I know who originated the most cross-sell revenue. I know which advertisers are doing the most business throughout all of our brands. So we’re slicing and dicing all of those results every minute of the day. And what was really, I’ll just say amazing, because nobody was more surprised than me—sometimes you build the plan and sometimes it falls flat, and other times it works out well. Not only did we, as of this morning from the inception which was last January, [do] millions of dollars in new business number one, and number two, just as important, we did not cannibalize one penny of our existing business with an organization. In many cases all we had to do was go to an existing customer.

What information did you need to give your sales reps?

Paul Andrews: Part of this success was giving our sales teams the necessary and appropriate tools that they needed to cross-sell. Our secret sauce, as simple as it is, was sending a nice one-pager slide that, by industry, reflected all the brands we own both media and events. And 95% of the time when our customers saw that, the common response was, ‘I had no idea that Endeavor was this big.’ So that slide alone opened up so many doors. But then we got smart and provided other tools where we said to our event sellers, ‘There’s no product that’s not allowed to be cross-sold. May be research, live events, media marketing solutions, etc. We gave them the tools like, for example, one tool is, if you are an event seller of this event, here are all of the media brands that could relate to you as that person who sells sponsorships and booth space. You could now create a referral to all of these other media properties.

And I had to keep reminding folks internally. This program is nothing more than a referral program on steroids. I mean, it’s as simple as that because some folks would get confused. And they’re like, ‘But Paul, you know this happened.’ I’m like, ‘Stop, it’s just a referral program.’ There are a lot of nuances to it. But our customers have truly just embraced it. And not only has it helped us with increasing the footprint of our existing customers, but for new customers, when you go to a manufacturer’s website, invariably, you’re going to look at the navigation on their website. And you’re going to see the link that says markets we serve. And as soon as you click on that link, what we do is match that to all the markets we serve, and then we have the typical sales pitch of ‘Hey, do you represent these markets as well? If not, please introduce me to your counterpart in the oil and gas industry,’ and then the rest is history. So that has been phenomenally successful.

So previously a salesperson for you would say, ‘Here is my one event. Here is my one brand that I’m selling to you’?

Paul Andrews: They would. As you know, Endeavor is made up of quite a few acquisitions. So there may have been a couple of buddies alongside where Jim would tell Mark, ‘Hey, I just got off the phone with this person, you may want to follow up.’ But there was no accountability. There was no closing of the loop. We track from the moment—I call it the birthing stage, where we have lots of rules of engagement. Is it truly eligible to be a cross-sell or not? But when that person identifies an opportunity, we track that opportunity all the way to close. So that we cannot only obviously confirm that it was actually sold, but that we get the appropriate attribution to both sellers, because there could be a lot of money at hand. But to answer your question directly, there was hardly any cross-selling happening.

Amanda Darman-Allen, who runs Future’s B2B, also mentioned to me the importance of getting out of their silos. Is there now more interaction between folks?

Paul Andrews: Put it this way. Last year we just started the program with $0 in revenue. We went into this year on January 1, with well over a million dollars in cross-sold revenue that was booked for this year. Because people got it. And that was the key message. One of the things we looked at very closely was our renewals. Here’s Company X. They bought into three new brands they had never worked with before. Did it work? The answer is yes; not only did they continue with those brands, but now they’re starting to expand.

We figured this out just maybe four months ago. We now have an internal policy that says whenever a seller receives an RFP, they must send it to our sales enablement team and what they do is they review the RFP. It was usually sent to maybe just one particular brand, because that’s who they’ve done business with historically, or maybe even three or four. And we have found that in 90% of those RFPs, yes they’ve targeted the appropriate brand. But we go back to the agency and say, ‘Hey, based on your criteria, your target audience, we’d like to respond with these other five brands. And literally 90% of the time we are now adding multiple brands to every RFP response—just because our sellers are sharing the RFP. It’s basic sales 101. But it just was never done before.

Part of the key seems to be that a salesperson isn’t saying, “Hey, that’s my thing, or you’re stepping in my area,” so it’s all kind of convivial?

Paul Andrews: Well it depends. For example, in our rules of engagement, one of our key factors is, if you, as the salesperson, have not had an interaction—and not just a one-way, howdy-doody call—with your customer within the last 90 days, it is eligible to be cross-sold into. If you have had that interaction or you have an active campaign going, then we say what it really isn’t. It is not a cross-sell, and we just let that person know about the opportunity and go.

So that that kind of keeps it fair.

Paul Andrews: It’s also created a sense of urgency, where people have to cover their territory, and we have a saying internally: Don’t be upset that you miss the opportunity because you were getting nothing from nothing. Now you’re getting 50% of something. And the other person’s really doing a lot of the work for you.

Thanks Paul. 

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