ITN Productions is the creative production arm of ITN. The team produces a wide range of digital content including programmes, films and advertising and does so for a diverse audience including broadcasters, businesses, brands and digital channels.
The UK creative and digital industry is booming. The sector is now one of the fastest growing industries and continues to outperform the wider UK economy. A rapidly expanding sector often leads to increased competition. Strong creativity and commercially effective work are the cut through tools of the most successful organisations, ITN Productions included. With two BAFTAS, an Emmy and a hoard of other awards, the team are leading the way in creative sales excellence.
Why the need for creative sales excellence?
The team has expanded rapidly in recent years. Particularly in business development. Each new person joining has brought with them different ways of selling; some good some less so. With no formal methodology in place to bind everyone together an inconsistent and disjointed approach was starting to emerge. ITN Productions takes the development of its people very seriously and business leaders soon recognised the need for a more formalised and joined-up approach to its business development activities.
Said Simon Shelley, Head of News:
“Selling is important for any business of course, but for us it is more about having meaningful and better client conversations before and during the creative process. The more familiar we are with a client’s objectives the more we can backwards engineer the solution. Our work becomes more effective as a result and that supports both existing and new client acquisition. We needed a selling methodology that could help us identify and examine those objectives.”
Why SPIN® Selling
Like many of Huthwaite’s clients, some members of the ITN Productions team were already familiar with Huthwaite’s behavioural research and the SPIN® Selling book written by Huthwaite’s founder Professor Neil Rackham. They attended an Open course first to ‘test the water’ before deciding SPIN® was right for them.
“Sometimes clients come to us knowing precisely what they want. Other times they invite us to guide their thinking. But whatever the circumstance, we could see the value of SPIN® in helping us to uncover those deeper insights that can make or break the commercial outcome of a project. SPIN® could also teach us how to properly listen, prepare and plan for client meetings, in a consistent way.”
The SPIN® delivery method chosen for ITN Productions was Huthwaite Collaborative™. It’s a next generation collaborative learning programme which combines virtual and physical classroom. Unlike other collaborative methods or virtual learning tools, participants have the support of a SPIN® expert to guide and monitor their progress from start to finish. For ITN Productions it consisted of a 7- week programme with 2 days in the physical classroom mid-way through.
The structure allowed the team to first learn the fundamentals of the SPIN® methodology ‘on the job’, and therefore use the physical classroom time in a more targeted way - for practice, role play and expert coaching. The weeks following then focused on reinforcing the theory and practical learning and integrating and embedding both into every day practice.
Said Simon: “Huthwaite Collaborative was different to any kind of training we’d had before. It gave us the time to properly understand and reflect on the key SPIN® concepts up front and in our live working environment. Then when it came time for the classroom we were ready and eager to put it into practice through roleplay. It was a highly effective use of everyone’s time. After that we focused on embedding what we had learned and we remembered far more as a result.”
With the 7-week programme only just completed it’s still early days for the team but improvements are evident. Said Simon: “Conversations have massively improved. We’re having more constructive and meaningful discussions about solutions. The great thing about SPIN® is that as business leaders we can analyse what’s going on in a consistent way. If a meeting didn’t go so well we can quickly see why.”
Advice for other creative and digital businesses
People may regard a selling methodology such as SPIN® to be irrelevant to a creative and digital business. “Not so”, says Simon. “The success of our work, and therefore our business, is built on properly understanding what a client wants to achieve. That means knowing how to uncover and listen for valuable intelligence and expanding on it if necessary. SPIN® helps us do that. It’s not just a toolkit, it’s a change in mindset.”