Major Media and Entertainment Conglomerate
Cable TV Network
Director Sales Planning and Sales Planning Operations
Search Based - Chicago, IL - USA
FMS OIC reporting to - President Network Sales - New York, NY - USA
Client: Viacom is a leading global media company, with preeminent positions in broadcast and cable television, radio, outdoor advertising, and online. With programming that appeals to audiences in every demographic category across virtually all media, the company is a leader in the creation, promotion, and distribution of entertainment, news, sports, music, and comedy. Viacom's well-known brands include CBS, MTV, Nickelodeon, Nick at Nite, VH1, BET, Paramount Pictures, Infinity Broadcasting, Viacom Outdoor, UPN, TV Land, Comedy Central, CMT: Country Music Television, Spike TV, Showtime, Blockbuster, and Simon & Schuster.
Search: Director Sales Planning and Sales Operations – DSP
Client Situation: The President was seeking greater efficacy on a tactical and strategic level to enhance revenue.
Executive Search (ES) Member Industry and Sector inclusion:
- Cable TV Network - Multiplex
- Broadcast TV Network - Major
The President identified Filcro Media Staffing (FMS) and Tony Filson (TF) functioning as Officer in Charge of Search. The firm has conducted numerous similar searches “above, on and below line” in the past and the familiarity with the ideal skill sets, culture and strategic initiatives relevant the Network’s practices were advantageous the the Network and assuring an expeditious search.
FMS was retained.
FMS Officer in Charge of Search worked entirely with the President of Network Sales to establish a consensus of the type of improvements that were needed to enhance sales operations that could facilitate revenue growth. The President was very clear as to the specific functions and areas of concern that needed to be addressed in this geographic.
FMS was provided with technical, sales, operational, organizational, financial, cultural and creative overviews requested to evaluate all hard and soft assets as they relate(d) to the skills and experience required of the new Director of Sales Planning and Sales Operations (DSP). Specific tent pole events and preemption of programming in the past were examples of areas where wanted someone with a calm and collected demeanor when rapid changes were required.
The current DSP was not appropriate based on the growth the Network had experienced recently and the additional growth that was anticipated in the near future. The President wanted this position to become more strategic as opposed to tactical and to grant greater autonomy across all traffic, planning, inventory, reporting, training and associated sales functions would be mandatory. By utilizing previous documents from other similar searches, a compilation of appropriate skill sets was utilized with latitude during universe compilation and tiering.
The hierarchy of desired skill sets and industry experience established placed great emphasis on the new DSP taking initiative and formulating practices that would increase efficiency across all areas relevant to Sales Operations and establishing enhanced lines of communication with Programming.
The building and mentoring of staff to proceed with strategic initiatives involving the Midwest and West Coast was essential. Greater stewardship was needed in the development of soft and hard assets reporting into this DSP.
New software being reviewed at the time involved contract negotiations and establishing a new vendor relationship key to planning across three media platforms.. This technology upgrade required a person who was familiar with the review and implementation of new sales systems. The President wanted a Director of Sales Planning and Operations with the capacity to take ownership of the process as it related to a new joint IT and sales planning initiative where this new DSP would work as a committee member with the Network’s IT staff as they transition and train the sales assistants, sales planners, inventory, traffic and account executives over to the new system. The ability to set a a clear syllabus with benchmarks for HR Training and Development would also fall to this person.
Universe compilation and tiering had to be setup in multiple frames for this search. With so many variables involved it would ultimately be a compilation of skills and experience as opposed to specific weighting. It was essential to give the President everything he needed with different weighting variables so he could determine the strategic value of each candidate that we “first tiered”.
FMS was very fortunate to have a President of Network Sales who had such a clear vision of where he wanted the Network to be from a market and revenue perspective in the near future. As opposed to him giving the search to a EVP, SVP or VP he opted to to take a hands-on approach to assuring that the person was proper strategic fit for his expansion plans.
Geographic issues were few. Chicago offered many choices as to where and how the firm would start universe compilation. Since relocation was also an option we started with the four primary markets relevant to a DSP and worked outward from Chicago. Proper attraction on this market has generally been through relocation.
Of the targeted environments we established nationally as primary for universe compilation all were positive and relocation proved to be a moot point in the end but many of the candidates exhibited everything the president wanted in his “ideal”.
Some of the biggest challenges facing the new Director Sales Planning (DSP):
- Change Management
- Ad Sales Planning
- Ad Sales Systems and IT Acumen
- Ad Agency Accountability
- Client Accountability
- Strategic Partnerships
- Financial Controls
- Optimization of Revenue
Solution: FMS proceeded to Identify "DSP’s" with proven efficacy in every area relevant to the President’s initiatives. Subs and revenue targets were matrixed to allow greater access to high-pot Senior Managers as well as Directors. The Network is very much in a growth mode with 90MM+ subs and going strong.
An executive capable of focusing on sales operational team development and sales infrastructure was essential. The client base, advertising agencies, account executives and sales planning staff had to witness a “clear” difference in the policies and procedures being brought in that would enhance efficacy as well as the bottom line. This new Director’s soft skills were of key importance.
The strategic skills required would prove to differentiate the top four candidates but the tactical reviews we conducted offered greater insight into day-to-day running of the department and those that really understood the strains of an upfront, preempted programming, make goods and presenting the proper plan the first time. Avoiding ADU issues by improving process was something we wanted to accomplish not just through proper assimilation of media metrics but by properly applying these analytics.
Successful candidate identified:
The new Director we identified was very hands-on. She was a skilled teacher in every area of concern to the President as confirmed in our skill set reviews:
Her ability to quickly review plans prior to being presented to the account managers for submittal to the client/agency and identify potential issues was exceptional. She was known for accurately monitoring the reweigh / remix of all Upfront plans without the prior Director’s shortcomings.
Experience and Proven Capacity
- Distribution of all MSA’s as well as overseeing client receipt of them in a timely fashion.
- Monitoring/approving the re-expressions of dollars.
- Monitoring/approving all sell-off requests.
- Monitoring/approving all cutbacks
- Monitoring/approving all planning rates
- Monitoring/approving the distribution of ADU schedules
- Monitor and prioritize sales planners’ workload and distribute work accordingly
- Supervise all sales assistant and sales planners
- Providing post summaries of all accounts
- Handling excess inventory and oversell situations
- Consultation and interaction with account executives regarding research materials, programming, added-value (vignettes, billboards) advertising needs.
- Interaction with network traffic department to gauge inventory availability, restrictions, specials, etc in determining make-up of proposal.
- Liaison with various departments on client's behalf when requested.
- Keep abreast of industry news via “trades” to increase and strengthen knowledge of Network position and get a general/broad understanding of what's going on in the industry.
- Resolve order/invoice-billing discrepancies.
- Invoicing: research discrepancy, advise client, management, and finance by correspondence on results and if necessary adjusting.
- Daily review of national missed spot list to modify accounts by either makegoods or clients.
- Client correspondence and direct contact as necessary.
- Weekly group meetings with supervisors and staff to discuss weekly activity, resolve problems, and forecast.
Everyone involved in the search felt that all of the above should be second nature to the new DSP and that ultimately led to the identification of an extremely talented new Director for the Network. The new Director had functioned as the National Sales Planning Manager for (4) four Networks as a (multiplex) owned by a direct competitor of our client.
She was responsible for managing and training the Chicago Revenue Planning staff as well as being a liaison between them and various departments in New York including, but not limited to, the inventory control department, the traffic department, and invoicing department.
She created and tested reweight/remix template for the various Networks new planning systems, trained Sales Planners to understand template, and continued to utilize templates to build plans as she Directed this environment.
Implementing office procedures to organize flow of information along the lines sought by our client and creating proposals for media buyers at advertising agencies by analyzing data and customizing it for demographic goals and budgets of specific clients were all part of her responsibility.
She also Analyzed and incorporated these demographics based on MRI data as well as other research tools in order to optimize our clients’ buys. Being extremely proactive and involved with the process of developing and maintaining client relationships to facilitate future business she was also responsible for overseeing the maintenance and delivery on all accounts and overseeing/executing cutbacks, sell-off requests, planning rates, added value requests, and re-expression of dollars.
Her ability to negotiate deals and present sales presentations to assigned sales territories and work with AE’s, V.P’s and above was proven. Her development of four National Revenue Planning Departments to develop upfront and scatter planning strategies to maximize sales and meet the company’s annual goals were just what the President wanted.
This new Director was identified in Chicago and no relocation was required.
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