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Case studies

SAE Media Group

How Flow State helped SAE Media Group increase rebookings by 300%


YoY increase in rebook rates

SAE Media Group, a London-based subsidiary of SAE International, connects over 5,000 senior business professionals at more than 60 networking conferences annually around the world. With a keen focus on Defence, Aerospace, Pharmaceutical and Medical sectors, they equip attendees with new and innovative solutions to overcome their biggest business challenges.

The company continues to develop the portfolio today, focusing on US expansion (with plans to open a New York office this year). The sales team has also grown rapidly, tripling in the last year.

For Miles Dixon, the Managing Director of SAE Media Group, it was clear they needed to deploy a unified sales methodology — one that could be scaled across different regions, leadership teams and sales reps.

“As you bring in new sales individuals, they have different ways of selling, and that’s great,” explains Miles. “Successful salespeople have a variety of backgrounds, methodologies, processes and frameworks. However, we wanted one common language and an efficient way for the sales director and the leadership team to manage the sales function. We needed to freshen things up.”

Having worked at several other conference companies over the years, Miles knew about the different sales methodologies used in the industry. However, he wanted an outside perspective from someone familiar with the best practices across a wide variety of sectors, and use that knowledge to create something bespoke for SAE Media.

To get that expertise, Miles turned to the team at Flow State.

Putting the foundations in place


As part of Flow State’s initial engagement, Aaron and Raff soon found that the sales team hadn’t yet fully implemented two of the fundamental pillars of sales excellence:


  • A sales competency framework, defining the desired skills, mindsets, knowledge and practices necessary to drive top performance.
  • A guided sales process, outlining the exact activities required at each stage of the buyer engagement cycle, from initial contact through to contract approval.

Rather than simply delivering an existing competency framework, Flow State worked with the sales team to help them develop their own. With Flow State’s guidance, the team discussed the different potential competencies that would benefit a high-performing sales team.

Flow State used a similar approach to build the sales process, helping the sales team put themselves in the buyer’s position. As each participant mapped out the key moments in their buyer interactions, it soon became apparent there was no consistent sales process, leading to a lack of alignment.

To bring everyone onto the same page, Aaron and Raff presented the team with the typical actions and steps that happen in the sales process, but in a random order. The participants then had to plot the actions against the early, middle and late stages of the sales process. Again, this exercise prioritised collaboration, with the sales team working together to decide on the optimal sales process in an interactive, engaging way.

Building on the foundations


The SAE Media sales team now had a documented competency framework and sales process, one that they’d help create themselves. To ensure that the team got the full benefit of their work together, Aaron and Raff carried out a series of group coaching sessions, roleplaying some of the steps and reviewing the team’s results.

Implementing the new processes was a challenge for some of the reps, requiring them to overcome certain limiting beliefs or embrace a new way of doing things. However, with additional coaching, Flow State was able to continue building the team’s confidence while still holding them accountable.

Flow State also worked closely with the sales leadership team, warning them of potential challenges in advance and collaborating to find a solution. Sometimes, this meant taking a stand. “What I liked about Flow State is how they weren’t afraid to challenge us,” recalls Miles. “For example, the sales director and I thought we could reduce some of the suggested training that was going to be difficult. Sometimes, external experts and consultants will quickly fold at the first sign of resistance, but Raff and Aaron were firm about what they thought would work, why they thought it would work and how it would drive greater value in the future. It was very much a collaborative experience.”

As well as high-level guidance on competencies and processes, Flow State also helped the team with specific practical ways to improve their sales and close more deals.

For example, Aaron and Raff helped the team refine their Decision-making Criteria Unit and Process (DCUP). By using what he’d learnt from Flow State, one of SAE Media’s sales reps was able to rebook 60% of the sponsors at a major conference within just two weeks. Overall, the rebooking rate has increased by 300% year-on-year.

In the weeks after launching the new sales methodology and process, Aaron and Raff played a critical role in ensuring it was smoothly and effectively adopted. They scheduled weekly check-in calls with both the sales director and the full team. On these calls, Aaron and Raff provided feedback on how well the process was being implemented, highlighting what was working and what required additional attention.

Through this consistent monitoring and open communication, the Flow State team helped guarantee a successful transition from the old selling approach to the new unified sales methodology. Their hands-on guidance after the launch was invaluable in cementing the changed behaviours and mindsets within the sales team.


The benefits of outside sales expertise


Looking back, Miles was particularly impressed with how the training was delivered, such as the way Raff helped the sales team improve their discovery process “Both the sales director and I have been managing sales teams for over 20 years,” says Miles, “and there was definitely stuff in there that was new to us.”

Miles also appreciated how Flow State provided a tailored experience that actively involved the sales team. “We could have easily gone to a company and asked them to create a sales methodology and process,” says Miles. “Lots of people can do that. But having a couple of leaders like Raff and Aaron come in and create that alongside the team had a lot of impact. The team bought into the methodology because they were involved in the process of creating it.”

The most important result for Miles was the sales team’s improved level of engagement and skill after the training. Flow State’s consultative approach actively involved the team, encouraging them to share their insights. As a result, the team now has a clearly defined and documented sales process, one that Miles and the team can reference and use every day. “It’s a key tool in our strategy to ensure that we continue to grow the sales of this business.”

Miles recommends that other sales teams look beyond their direct competitors and bring in experts with experience in different industries. “I think companies that fixate on how their competitors operate are missing the opportunity to see what’s out there and what could work uniquely for their type of business.”

For anyone looking to scale up their sales team and improve their engagement, Miles wholeheartedly recommends Flow State. “They’ve done a great job and they were very helpful, working with us to provide exactly what we needed, rather than just what they thought we needed.”


“Both the sales director and I have been leading sales teams for over 20 years, and there were definitely concepts in the training that were new to us.”

Miles Dixon
Managing Director, SAE Media Group
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