Communications/Media: Case Study
This leading on-line global social networking service had provided several waves of sales training for both its large corporate and small and medium sized client teams. However, none of the earlier programs had provided the foundation in selling skills or a branded, consistent approach to selling that the company was looking for. Sales teams were still "winging it", relying too much on charm, relationships, and product knowledge and moving too quickly to talking about solutions. Although they had learned in the past to focus more on listening and understood that there was a clear shift in selling away from leading with product to leading with insights, the company's explosive growth and commitment to exciting innovation made it challenging for salespeople to put the customer at the center of the sales conversation -- using a consistent approach to the sales conversation across all verticals and regions and remaining focused on becoming experts on their customers' businesses.
With input from over 60 top performers who provided over one hundred best practices, we designed several successive waves of training, beginning with the primarily telephone based small and medium sized business sales team, followed by vertical specific sessions for the large corporate field sales team. We introduced foundational selling skills, providing salespeople with a framework for selling into advertisers and agencies. The training included links back to previous training sessions delivered by other learning providers, where relevant, in order to minimize confusion and reinforce desired behaviors that had already been adopted.
Because the audience included a high percentage of millenials, we offered the option of a modular approach to training rather than spending a full day in the classroom. We also incorporated activities drawn from the world of improv to add an element of fun to the classroom and help teach concepts using examples outside of the work environment before applying those same concepts within the work environment. For the large corporate teams that focus on specific verticals, all case studies and practical application exercises were customized to each vertical. All cases and exercises were customized to the specific role(s) of the participants.
To further embed the concepts throughout the organization and ensure that these foundational skills would truly become this organization's branded way of interacting with clients, train-the-trainer sessions were delivered for facilitators in each region globally and managers received toolkits that armed them with the material and direction they needed to run reinforcement sessions for individual teams on all of the concepts introduced during the training and gave them a suggested cadence for delivering those sessions. In addition, an abbreviated introduction to the core concepts was included in the onboarding program for all members of the sales team and reinforcement modules were developed and delivered across all regions on key concepts from the training, such as objection resolution and questioning and listening. Top performing teams also made a commitment at the leadership level to reinforce the training, scheduling office hours for rotating members of sales management where salespeople from any team in that vertical could work with a manager to prepare for upcoming client meetings with an emphasis on applying the concepts and skills introduced during the training.
The training has been offered for three years and the language and process introduced have entered the corporate vernacular. Teams that have consistently implemented the training concepts have rebranded their customer interactions based on the concepts introduced and experienced a 10% increase in revenue on average within six months, along with deeper, broader client relationships, and improved customer satisfaction scores.