Sales Effectiveness Case Study
Company: Large manufacturer and distributor of scientific equipment and supplies. Company is publicly traded.
Assignment period: January 2003 to present
Number of Sales Professionals: More than 110 plus 30 technical service professionals who provide ongoing service and calibration to the products that the sales team sells. They are organized into vertical and regional markets. Average tenure is more than 8 years – sales force is 60% male. Service team is 100% male.
Situation: Company was looking to alter the thinking of its sales team - from order takers to fully engaged sales professionals who are looking to elevate profits (not just the sales). The company had a bad reputation for service. Sales and service were two independent operations that often engaged in finger pointing. Selling synergies between the two teams were not being identified or capitalized upon. Technical service team members were often in the best position to influence a sale or to suggest an upgrade but were defaulting to a “that’s not my job” approach. The company dominates its market but has a number of smaller competitors in segments of its markets. In FY 2003 the company’s Canadian sales were 75 million CDN$. The annual growth rate in the industry is estimated to be around 7-8%. Company sales in Canada were more than 145 million CDN$ in 2007.
Scope of Assignment: Reporting initially to the Director of Sales (who has moved to VP Marketing and Sales, then to President of Canadian Operations) we were requested to assist them in developing and executing a sequenced training plan that will ensure the following:
Company will meet its sales targets
Company will identify and re-deploy underperforming salespeople
Company service technicians will see themselves as salespeople – equal partners with the sales force
Company reputation for service will improve based on measurements in the customer CS annual survey
Company will develop sales managers to coach and train their people leveraging the training experience
Company service will improve and the customer’s perception of the company’s service will improve
Actions taken: We ran two sales effectiveness training sessions for all salespeople each year and one management training meeting. Since the start of the assignment we have completed 10 separate 1 day training programs incorporating our Sales Performance materials having completed almost all relevant modules with them. We also used our preference based individual communication style profile to personalize the training. At the same time, we organized a customized version of our Service Performance program for 6 one day Service Effectiveness sessions delivered at the regional offices across Canada. We also delivered a customized Coaching and Sales Management program to all of their sales managers and held numerous coaching sessions with individual sales managers by telephone and face to face.
Outcomes: Company sales have risen at a high rate, outpacing market growth. The training sessions were very successful and ongoing monitoring demonstrates that the behaviours and skills are being applied. Next steps include planning their January 2009 sales meeting with them and designing a formal coaching program for the sales and service managers (some of whom are new and did not participate in the initial sessions).
Deliver service effectiveness in tandem with sales effectiveness in instances where the service professional has the potential to add an enormous amount of overall value in the client relationship. It is important to create a culture where everyone sells (and knows it)
Develop consistency in the training program. The sales team expects us to be at each of their national meetings and we have become a part of their world. This leverages the learning and engages the people over the long run.