The Drum — Case Study

How The Drum’s sales team increased its conversion rates by over 30% and average deal values by 25%, in less than 12 months.

The Client

The Drum is a leading global publisher for the marketing and media industries. Their mission is to help 1.2 million-plus readers prepare for what’s next. They specialise in providing actionable insights, guidance, inspiration and creative marketing solutions.

Diane Young, Co-Founder and CEO of The Drum recognised that despite continued business growth, there was an opportunity to improve sales negotiation skills, reduce discounting and focus on higher value, bigger deals within the sales organisation.

Piscari conducted a sales negotiation skills diagnostic and scoped out a consulting project to review various aspects of sales. This involved working with the Head of Finance to analyse previous sales deals, review existing sales dashboard reports and look at the sales process. This resulted in a series of recommendations that would underpin the growth plans for the next 12 months.

“I approached Mike after attending a workshop that he ran for business owners. I was attracted by his process-driven approach to enterprise sales and the negotiation involved. We talked through the specific challenges we face at The Drum and Mike quickly came back with a programme tailored for us which included multiple facets such as team training sessions, systems improvement suggestions and one to one sessions for the sales team members. All of this was underpinned by regular update sessions driven by Mike and produced in conjunction with members of the senior team. The whole process has definitely added value to the business through more confident and equipped sales staff and better systems and processes. Mike has deep expertise on his topic and also a joy to work with.”

Diane Young

Co Founder/CEO, The Drum

“The team were adopting a client’s mindset, as opposed to being a Trusted Advisor to constructively challenge a client’s thinking; this required a new skill set and confidence levels.”

Tehmeena Latif

Head of Sales EMEA, The Drum

The Challenges

There were a number of key challenges that needed to be addressed across the sales organisation:

  • Align sales, leadership, creative and delivery teams to create higher value business propositions to solve more complex problems for bigger clients.
  • Step-up and offer a much more consultative approach with clients within a more challenging pandemic-world. “We needed experience and a fresh perspective on objection handling, negativity and an enhanced vocabulary to position ourselves as trusted advisors.” Tehmeena Latif, Head of Sales EMEA.
  • Develop tailored, sales KPI dashboards from Executive level through to sales individual in order to see real-time positions and be able to react/respond better and measure progress more effectively.

The Approach

Working with Diane Young (CEO), James Le Masurier (Head of Partnerships EMEA & APAC) and Tehmeena Latif (Head of Sales EMEA), Piscari developed a blended learning, development and consultancy programme that consisted of:

  • A series of virtual training sessions over 8 weeks.
  • An 8 month programme of 1:1 coaching/mentoring sessions for each sales person. The key here was having structured discussions around specific sales opportunities. Drawing on Mike’s extensive commercial sales and negotiation experience, client proposals were developed to maintain margins, increase deal sizes and close deals faster.
  • A suite of tailored templates and processes were developed and deployed to improve the quality of sales negotiations.
  • Access to Piscari’s online training courses.
  • A 6 month consulting programme to refine the sales process, stage-gates and Salesforce reporting dashboards.

Outcomes and Benefits

Measured over a 12 month period, the following benefits have been delivered:

  • For complex solution sales, there was a >30% improvement in the number of qualified, live deals in the pipeline.
  • Sales conversion rates for complex solutions increased by 33%.
  • Sales & negotiation coaching on bigger/complex deals resulted in significant wins with aggregate deal values >£200k.
  • Price discounting has now stopped and sales focus is much more around value-add.
  • For product sales, there was a 25% improvement in average deal value and a >25% improvement in client retention rates.

“The one to one coaching sessions with the team helped identify unique sales negotiation training gaps. Mike’s tailored approach to each individual has helped fine tune the sales team’s skills in their very own roles.” Tehmeena Latif, Head of Sales EMEA.

James Le Masurier
Head of Partnerships EMEA & APAC The Drum

What’s Next for the Sales Team at The Drum?

The Drum is set for considerable growth in the coming years. One of the key enabler of this growth will be the ongoing optimisation of the sales function around larger/complex deals. The work done over the last 8 months is one of the cornerstones for this next stage of growth.

“What started as a training/coaching programme to improve the negotiation
skills of the sales teams, quickly turned into fixing a business problem around improving conversion rates and deal values for bigger deals.”

“This programme has really helped to shine a light on how the leadership team can support higher value sales by being more involved in the process at the point of sale. Understanding what the client requirements are vs our capabilities and closing the gaps. If we continue to align ourselves around our customer needs and commit to continuous improvement there is no limit for what we can achieve.”

James Le Masurier

Mike Lander,
CEO Piscari

How is Piscari different from other sales/negotiation trainers and coaches?

We asked the CEO, Diane Young and James/Tehmeena
this question.

These are some of the things they said about us:

  • “The salespeople keep saying “we love Mike (CEO, Piscari)”. The training and coaching was really easy for the salespeople to understand and adopt as part of their day-to-day job”.
  • “The training was very accessible, relevant and tailored specifically to our business challenges”.
  • “You spoke our language”.
  • “The sales team trusts Piscari to engage and align The Drum stakeholders at all levels in the business”
  • “The 1:1 sales coaching sessions were invaluable based on Mike’s wide-ranging experience and expertise. The salespeople felt like it was a safe place to discuss anything on their minds.”
  • “Mike’s ability to rapidly understand the business needs at all levels from Executive to salesperson and convert them into insightful KPI dashboards was invaluable”.

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