May 12, 2011
2011 Sales Hall of Fame
By Mike Grebb
EVP, Affiliate Sales and Marketing
A perennial member of the CableFAX 100 and a winner of our Affiliate Salesperson of the Year (Mid-Size Networks) for two consecutive years, Randy Brown is a veteran of cable sports networks. He spent 14 years at ESPN, helped launch Tennis Channel and has been with Outdoor Channel since ’07. A soft-spoken and humble man, Brown was able to provide distribution growth for Outdoor almost immediately. The Channel added 2.4mln HHs in ’08, up 661% over ’07. Last year began strongly for Brown and Outdoor as the net was named one of the top 5 cable sub gainers for ’09, up 15.3% to 34mln, its best mark since starting Nielsen coverage in ’02. And recently- launched Outdoor HD net has grown 34%. Brown’s also been busy overseas, establishing dedicated networks in Asia and Europe. The affable Brown’s sales philosophy fits his even demeanor: “Do your homework, go in prepared, ask good questions, use your ears more than your mouth, focus on solutions, under promise and over deliver, balance persistence with patience,” he says, adding, “and always follow through on next steps and commitments.”
Mary Jeanne Cavanagh
EVP, Advertising Sales
GMC Cable Networks
When GMC was looking for an experienced hand to guide ad sales, Mary Jeanne (“MJ”) Cavanagh was a natural choice. The 26-year cable veteran, who describes herself as “tenacious,” helped increase ad revenue by 182% and direct response revenue by 250% in ’10. The upbeat Cavanagh also broke new categories for GMC, including pharmaceuticals, beauty and credit cards. How does she do it? “By focusing on the 4 P’s: plan, prepare, persistence and pride,” she tells us. “Sell the value of your brand, not the price. Be prepared, because knowledge of a client’s brand and competitors’ strengths and weaknesses are paramount to building long-term partnerships and getting your deserved brand value.” And one of her most important strategies? “Say no to bad business.” Too many people fail to “think long term and don’t anticipate objections with thoughtful responses prior to a sales meeting,” she says. But there’s also room for fun. “Selling an independent brand takes hustle, persistence, patience and laughter,” she adds. “Every dollar you close is earned.”
SVP, Operations & Strategic Planning
A cable veteran, Steve Feingold is the man who lead creation of the Greater Boston Interconnect in the 1990s and has since continued to deftly tackle any project large or small. “Always strive to deliver the best end-to-end experience, and keep all audiences in mind—agencies, clients and consumers alike,” he told us. In 2000, he brought his skills to Comcast Spotlight where he has guided construction of dozens of regional interconnects. He champions “keeping an eye on the big picture... Always think long term.” And with the industry evolving so quickly, he said that any sales organization must adapt at a moment’s notice. “Flexibility can’t be understated, now more than ever,” he said. “The pace of change is only going to accelerate, so you need to be ready and willing to adapt to new processes, new tools and new ways of thinking.” That became clear last year as Feingold and his team rolled out interactive advertising, which now passes 12mln homes, with hundreds of campaigns and millions of iTV impressions under his belt. And none of that would have happened without the interconnects he pioneered.
EVP, Affiliate Sales & Marketing
The 20-year cable veteran plays an integral role in content distribution, local ad sales and promotions for Comcast networks, including Golf Channel, E!, Style, Versus, G4 and the Comcast SportsNets. A former ESPN staffer and a huge golf fan, Fox serves on the board of CTAM’s Educational Foundation and The Cable Center’s development committee. His sales philosophy derives from the good sportsmanship he’s learned on the links. “Treat your client exactly as you would like to be treated,” he tells us. “A good and fair deal makes everyone happy.” He also emphasizes listening. “Not listening to the client is one of the biggest mistakes a salesperson can make,” he says, noting that “listening to the customer,” is the top personality trait needed to succeed in sales. In addition, he abhors “approaching sales as a ‘one size fits all’” endeavor. And despite many years in sales, Fox is very receptive to social media. “Owing to its immediacy and ability to connect directly with consumers, social media should now be an integral part of any sales strategy,” he says.
SVP of Sales, East Region
Time Warner Cable
Carole Hart has honed her sales techniques for 24 years at Time Warner Cable. And that’s a big part of why she has such a vital role overseeing ad sales for 11 divisions on the East Coast, including the most lucrative market in the country: New York City. “Viewing our business through the lens of our clients is very important,” she told us. “If we ask the right questions as salespeople, the client will give us the info we need to provide them with an effective marketing solution.” As for personality traits that matter greatly in sales, “there are a few that stand out to me,” she said, including curiosity, a sense of urgency and of course “persistence... never give up!” It’s that can-do attitude that makes Hart one of boss/CableFAX Sales Hall of Famer Joan Gillman’s top assets. Meanwhile, Hart notes that the evolving marketplace, including Time Warner Cable’s deployment of iTV wares, has already influenced the way she interacts with clients. “This is a game-changer as conversations with our clients take on a totally different feel,” she said. “Having strong consultative selling skills is more important than ever before.”
EVP, Affiliate Relations
This innovative cable veteran not only understands what distributors need but lately has been instrumental in keeping HSN ahead of others on several fronts, including its HSN Shop by Remote feature, which is credited as the first and still only 24-hour iTV service in the U.S. Other initiatives in his 25-year career include the transition to HD and the launch of HSN2 and HSN On Demand. And he knows how to think on his feet, once merging the sales organizations of USA Networks and HSN—and then building a whole new sales force at HSN after they were separated. When it comes to client relationships, “It’s always important to understand a client’s needs before engaging in a sales pitch,” he told us. “You have to become a good listener and ask questions to truly understand what your clients are striving to achieve.” And despite Ruben’s involvement with so many cutting-edge products, he said that “meeting in person, face to face, and building relationships are still important in this business and can’t be replaced by social media, emails or texting. Using social media, however, to keep building relationships and learn more about clients and their needs can be very useful.”
One of the most visible executives on the cable circuit, many people believe it’s just not a cable event unless Ellen Schned and her camera are in attendance. Summing up Schned’s vast contacts in cable through years at Court TV, CBS College Sports and now Ovation, Time Warner Cable Regional VP Harriet Novet puts it well, saying, “Who doesn’t Ellen know?” On the other hand, “her high standards, excellent reputation and experience are known across the industry,” Novet adds. Indeed, Schned’s contacts helped her secure an additional 2.2mln subs for Ovation within months of joining the network in April ’10. Schned feels “you have to be as creative as possible” and flexible... and listen. “Sales people can’t do a great job… if they don’t take time out to really listen to the clients. I think we’ve all been guilty of it at one time or another. We’re on tight schedules. We have a multitude of points to get across. But, as in any successful relationship, listening is paramount.” Trained as a lawyer, Schned has been a tireless advocate for women and public affairs, serving with WICT, ACC and Florida’s CTAM chapter board, among others.
Turner Entertainment Ad Sales,
Marketing and Acquisitions
One of the best-known and most well-respected cable executives in the advertising and sales community, Linda Yaccarino heads the team that manages advertising for TNT, TBS and truTV. Her team at Turner is known for its creativity through “inContext,” a portfolio of contextually-relevant advertising opportunities. It involves offering advertisers content that echoes brand messages. And then there are the deals Yaccarino has crafted around a late-night talk show hosted by a certain tall, red-headed comedian. “With Conan,” she says, “TBS crashed through the barriers of broadcast and cable and achieved pricing parity for the first time in the history of entertainment.” Yaccarino also heads acquisitions for Turner Entertainment. Her handiwork in that area will be on display when TBS begins running top-rated comedy series “The Big Bang Theory.” Yaccarino has also received numerous awards and honors, including citations from the Association of Women in Radio & Television, Promax and Jack Myers. Her board seats have included WICT, Penn State, Young Audiences of NY and the International Radio and Television Society.