Steve Marx has been selling, helping salespeople, and consulting on the development of sales organizations for nearly his entire career. He conceived and established The Center for Sales Strategy (CSS) in 1983 and has led its growth from a one-man shop to today’s roster of nearly 30 full-time career staff, building CSS into the media industry’s preeminent sales and management consulting and training organization worldwide. Marx created much of the company’s original customer-focused selling and talent-focused management systems and training programs. He has seen the company spread its influence throughout the United States and around the world, with clients in Canada, Australia, Malaysia, and Greece; and he has led the company successfully into non-media B2B sectors.
In 2000, CSS entered the realm of Web-based training through its wholly-owned subsidiary, The Center for Online Learning (coLearn). CoLearn’s total redevelopment and expansion of the original benchmark CSS workshop Customer Focused Selling allows it to make the training available, accessible, and affordable to a wider range of sales organizations the world over. Today, Marx serves as CEO of CSS/coLearn and manages day-to-day operations together with Jim Hopes, president, and John Henley, executive VP.
CSS and coLearn currently provide sales and management consulting and training services to clients worldwide, including benchmark media companies (radio, television, cable, newspaper, Internet) such as Time Warner, Comcast, Cox, Media General, Hearst-Argyle, AutoTrader.com, Bonneville International, Greater Media, Katz, Arbitron, Hubbard, Journal, Dispatch, Emmis, South Central, Federated, Corus (Canada), and Austereo (Australia, Malaysia, Greece).
The company’s services have continued to expand from its original base in sales training, and now include management training and consulting; strategic planning; business development conferences and resources; and talent identification, evaluation, and development services. Not surprisingly, CSS has expanded beyond its historic media base and now serves Manheim, the world’s largest wholesale vehicle auction company, as well as DMX, a world leader in digital music and visual programming to enhance retail brand image and the shopping experience.
Sales and management practices developed by Marx and CSS have enabled clients to achieve business reputations and revenue market shares that make them the envy of their competitors. Under his leadership, CSS has achieved a client renewal rate unparalleled in media sales consulting; he takes great delight in this extraordinary level of client satisfaction.
Marx is a highly strategic thinker who sets both high ethical standards and high performance standards. He is proud of his record in attracting extraordinarily talented professionals to make their career at CSS over the years, and of the company’s very low personnel turnover. Beyond the ranks of CSS employment, Marx has had a strong influence on the personal and professional development of a great many managers and salespeople throughout the world.
Before he founded CSS, Marx was VP/general manager of WAAF/WFTQ in Worcester, MA, for seven years. As a result of his innovation and leadership, the stations reversed their downward trends in audience, service, and reputation, multiplied their revenues nearly tenfold, and moved from red ink to cash cow. He was also a director of the $1.6 billion BankWorcester Corporation and its subsidiary, Worcester County Institution for Savings, and served as a member of its loan workout committee.
In 1979, Marx created Optimum Effective Scheduling (OES) and then developed and enhanced the concept throughout the 1980s. In fact, together with Pierre Bouvard, he wrote the book on OES—literally. Radio Advertising’s Missing Ingredient: The Optimum Effective Scheduling System, published by The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) in 1990, became the NAB’s best-selling publication of all time, reaching more than 15,000 total sales. OES is widely respected among stations, agencies, and advertisers for its ability to produce superior results—without increasing the ad budget.
Marx received a B.S. in organizational behavior in 1969 from Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., where he is involved today in guiding and mentoring the young executives at the University’s student-owned-and-operated radio station, WVBR. He has long been active in industry and community affairs. He was a director and vice president of the Massachusetts Broadcasters Association and a member of the Radio Effectiveness Subcommittee of the Advertising Research Foundation. He was a director of the Worcester Area Chamber of Commerce and served on the city manager’s Special Airport Task Force. He has served as a trustee and a vice president at Congregation Schaarai Zedek in Tampa and is an active supporter and volunteer for Academy Prep Center of Tampa, a school expressly for at-risk inner-city kids of middle-school age. But there’s still time for fun: Marx is a solo-rated Porsche Club driver at Sebring International Raceway and also enjoys getting his center-console boat up on plane on Tampa Bay.
Marx and his wife Merrill live in Tampa as empty nesters. Their son Jeff is a defense consultant in the Washington, DC, area, and their daughter Emily is a publicist in New York City.