Dragon TV - Building a Professional Sales Team Selling Skills

The rising of Dragon - Building a professional sales team to a world class standard

The impact of change for Chinese TV Media

Following the launch of satellite and in the run up to the millennia Chinese TV media changed significantly. The provincial television channels in China were able to develop their media to begin to provide coverage nationwide. At the same time, media management systems also underwent important reforms – for the first time, new business units were formed and started running as private corporations. On entering the new century, with the development of cutting-edge technology and changes to the audience’s media consumption habits, many of the large TV and broadcast media enterprises were born – competition between them was fierce.

Despite all these challanges, in October 2003, Dragon TV was officially launched.

The rise of Dragon TV

Dragon TV is a great example of its industry. It is the premier channel of the Shanghai Media Group and over the last 10 years it has taken part in both vertical and horizontal integrations.

It presents a fresh, new and metropolitan image, showcasing Shanghai throughout the nation and to the rest of the world. Through its programme innovation and reforms to management systems, the channel has quickly moved to one of the top stations in China.

Facing strong competition from other top channels and new media, Dragon TV looked to strengthen its position in the market.

In May 2010, Dragon TV Advertising Center was established. Mr. Yuan was appointed to the role of Sales Director and his challenge was to build a professional team that could differentiate itself from the competition.

Traditionally, TV sales representatives are very good at customer relationship building and maintaining what the Chinese call guanxi (In China it is the system of social networks and influential relationships which facilitate business and other dealings.), which is highly linked with business success. At that time, the members of Mr. Yuan’s sales team were mostly very young, came from various professions and many of them were new to sales.

"When Mr. Yuan first invited me to join and lead the sales team, I knew I was facing a big challenge. Not only were most of the team members very young, they also didn’t have much sales experience. I found myself in a situation where I was constantly doing tasks for them. Many of the sales people proposed solutions to the Client in the first sales calls, without knowing much about them, and expected an order to be placed. I felt it was urgent to improve their selling skills and capability."Ms. Wan-Jue - Dragon TV Advertising Center Direct Account Team Head

Mr. Yuan has always put talent development and good team morale at the top of his priorities. At the time, the questions he kept pondering were:

● What needs to be done for the team to help them stand out among all the TV media relationship-building experts and in doing so achieve their overall sales goals?
● In addition to better relationships with Clients, what are the capabilities and skills that can make the team more competitive?
● More importantly, what kind of sales team will best represent Dragon TV’s image?
● And, how can they build such a team?

In 2012, Mr. Yuan chose ActionAd Communication Learning Center to be the sales consultancy to help him fulfil his goals. They conducted a comprehensive diagnosis of the team and recommended a highly effective sales methodology from world-renowned Huthwaite International.

The goals of this large-scale talent development project were very clear:

● To build a team that could represent Dragon TV’s positioning and image, that is equipped with a world class standard of selling skills.
● For the sales team to have a common language.
● To change the mindset of the sales team, repositioning them from the traditional relationship-building experts to professional sales consultants who could uncover, develop and satisfy customer needs.

With these clear goals in mind, over the next three years the
following Huthwaite programmes were introduced:

● SPIN® Selling Skills
● SPIN® Follow up Consulting
● Account Strategy for Major Sales
● SPIN® Coaching

Emulating world class selling skills

For over 40 years, Huthwaite International has devoted itself to the research of the verbal behaviours that correlate to sales success. This includes the world-renowned SPIN® model, which is based on unique research of over 40,000 business to business sales interactions. Being able to identify each of the significant behaviours which lead to better sales outcomes means that SPIN® offers a framework for structuring sales conversations to uncover and develop needs and build value for your unique differentiators.

During the SPIN® Selling Skills programmes Dragon TV delegates took part in role play activity to practice emulating the SPIN® behaviour model. Over the course of the three days, delegates were able to implement individual skills, review their learning and receive feedback. This then helped them to generate a clear learning path leading to full absorption of the SPIN® success model.

"The systematic sales training programmes of Huthwaite International are the best I have ever participated in! The real-world research has resulted in training that is very different from other programmes in China - in particular, SPIN® has the methodology, processes and tools.

With the help of the complete series of training programmes and coaching over three consecutive years, my team’s professionalism has improved tremendously. Now we share a common sales language. With various tools in hand and good pre-call preparation, we can understand customer needs better and faster than before. This not only reduces my management effort, but also makes my team more effective.

And most importantly, the sales revenue increased three times in just a few years!" 
Ms. Yun Bing-Shu - Dragon TV Advertising Center Integrated Marketing Team Head

Using real world examples to enhance learning

In preparation for the training, the consultants from AAC conducted interviews with heads of sales and their sales team members to understand the challenges they face in their daily sales efforts. From the information gathered, customized role plays were created for the programmes to simulate real world situations. To have relevant examples with which to practice has contributed greatly to the delegate learning experience. It has allowed delegates to concentrate on developing new sales skills while using them in the context of their own, familiar market.

Reshaping the mindset of sales: Change Behaviour, Change Results

Huthwaite International’s training programmes and consulting services emphasise customer needs as the key to successful selling. These skills have helped Dragon TV’s sales team reshaped their overall mindset, the actions of which have resulted in outstanding performance.

"The way we used to sell was to bring along standard proposals and price listing of various ad spaces. We would constantly tell Clients how good our services were. Now we have made it a habit to prepare thoroughly the questions to ask before the sales calls. Instead of constantly offering solutions, we ask questions and listen to Clients. By doing so, Clients are more willing to tell us their needs, of course this improves the efficiency of sales, and directly contributes to our sales revenue." Ms. Zhang Yi - Dragon TV Advertising Center 4A Team Head

From knowing to doing - to doing it well: Change Behaviour, Change Results

Huthwaite International believes that only by changing behaviour, we can change results. That’s why all our training programmes are designed with the delegate’s needs in mind. With repeated role play practice, delegates can take learning from their sessions and apply it in a safe environment. Gaining feedback from trainers and other delegates then allows the individual to be able to concentrate on specific areas to improve. The outcome is that delegates move from knowing to doing and with follow up coaching, they can then move from knowing what to do, to doing it well. Eventually, these world class sales skills become second nature.

"Previous training programmes were all stand-alone (not systematic). During the training, we might feel that we have learned something new. But after the training, we couldn’t even remember the key points, making it impossible to practice what we had learned.
Huthwaite’s SPIN® programmes are very different. The training was quite demanding and we certainly felt some pressure because we had to practice what we learned right away during the role play exercises and the results were analysed and compared immediately. I think that’s a very good way to learn, and we have indeed learned a great deal from the training. After the training programmes, we also received SPIN® Coaching and follow-up consulting. This helped us remember all the key concepts well and enabled us to actually put them into practice." Ms. Yun Bing-Shu - Dragon TV Advertising Center Integrated Marketing Team Head

"What we learn from SPIN® is much more than selling skills. With the reinforcement of systematic follow-up coaching and consulting, we now make it a habit to actively use SPIN® and closely listen to Clients. I realize that the ultimate goal of sales is not to sell products or services to the Client, but to constantly uncover and solve the problems they face during different phases of development. SPIN® can also be used for self-assessment. It helps me better understand my own problems and needs, so that I can seek assistance from my colleagues and managers, and constantly improve myself and my work efficiency. I think the key success of SPIN® is that both my Clients and I can enjoy the substantial growth together!" Mr. Xiong Zheng-Dong - Dragon TV Advertising Center Senior Business Director