Many organisations recognise that they need to change the way their consultants and sales people sell, but often they don’t recognise how fundamental a change this is to the business. Instead, they try to fix things by running a training program but doing little else, which rarely works.
Culture change is profound and many things need to be changed in order to make sure everything is aligned with the ‘new way’.
Our services to assist with sales culture transformation:
- Market research:
- qualitative and/or quantitative research of clients and key internal stakeholders to identify the organisation’s current position and relationships, desired future relationships and position in the market, and current client perceptions.
- Development of a research report that highlights the key findings and provides recommendations on critical focus areas for sales culture change.
- Review and definition of sales roles:
- Development of new role descriptions for the entire sales force and support functions based on the organisation strategy and the outcome of any market research conducted.
- Development of new sales competency frameworks:
- Development of a detailed breakdown of the knowledge, skill and behavioural needs of all levels of staff in the sales force and support functions to ensure that all the expected responsibilities within the new roles can be fulfilled.
- Full sales training curriculum design:
- The identification of all training programs and modules, whether self-paced, training room or online, that are needed to develop the necessary knowledge, skill and behaviour expected in the role descriptions. In our recommendations we always consider and recommend in-house and other third party training providers, as applicable.
- Design of training support programs to embed the training that is implemented, including:
- Communications plans – for training participants (or alumni) and whole-of-business to support the culture change.
- In-house coaching.
- Refresher training.
- Reward and recognition.
- Design and implementation of an alumni network for training participants, and a coaching network for in-house coaches.
Case study – Changing the sales culture at VWR in Europe
The client: the European arm of VWR, a global organisation that supplies equipment to science labs throughout Europe (everything from high tech to glass beakers).
Work undertaken: sales team restructure, ENGAGE B2B sales training, sales culture transformation program.
We first began working with VWR after they recognised that their traditional way of selling, with a heavy reliance on their online catalogue and physical brochures, was extremely risky. They were feeling significant price pressure across many of their divisions as their customers did not often differentiate them from other providers of similar products, who were increasing in number due to the globalisation of supply chains. They realised they needed to change their approach, but they were not clear on exactly what the change was.
The initial focus of the project was to determine exactly what change was needed. To help identify this, we conducted qualitative research of both customers and key internal stakeholders to identify what their customers wanted from an organisation such as theirs now and in the future, and how that compared to what they were currently getting. The research indicated that customers wanted to work with a partner who would help their business, but felt that instead they were currently getting nothing more than a distributor or ‘box mover’.
The change project:
A key element of the success of the project was the appointment early on of a Change Project Director to oversee all aspects of the change, together with a Project Manager in charge of the human elements such as training and role descriptions. It was recognised that the changes in behaviour expected from the sales team would be profound and therefore everything possible was put in place to help embed the change. Essentially, six streams of embedding activity were undertaken.
Job descriptions: based on what the customers had said they wanted, all job descriptions across the whole sales organisations were changed. From originally having dozens of sales role that varied in every office, these were cut down to 12 roles which were made consistent across all European offices.
Skills development program: this was developed to provide the knowledge and skill training appropriate for every role in the sales organisation. This covered everything from product knowledge and relationship building, to presentation and negotiation skills, with both internal and external facilitators appointed for a range of online and in-person programs. To ensure the sustainability of the new approach, internal resources have been trained to deliver the training internally thereby removing the reliance on external providers and making the training ‘simply the way we do things around here’.
Review service offerings and marketing materials: the BD/Marketing teams re-visited and focussed on market segmentation and their service offerings. This included looking at which new services to offer and what to stop offering, and which new customers to focus on and which customers to potentially move on to other providers. A program of work to change the way marketing materials were written, to be more customer centric, was also undertaken.
Adapting the CRM: the commercial excellence team looked at other elements of the business to determine what could be adapted to drive and support the needed change. As a result, they customised the CRM system to: 1. incorporate the language and tools used in the training programs. 2. added the facility to measure relationship strength in addition to pipeline. 3. added the ability to identify the behavioural preferences of the sales team in order to match better with customers.
Coaches: a network of coaches have been trained and developed across Europe covering the key nine languages, allowing approximately one sales coach for every 10 – 15 sales people. The coaches are promoted and recognised within the organisation to ensure they have high visibility.
Communications: communications channels have been established to connect the sales teams or ‘alumni’ to support them post-training, such as the creation of a Yammer community to both share stories and seek instant support.
For an insight into the outcomes of this project, hear directly from some of the VWR team in the following videos.