Cosector – Sales Development programme
Background & Organisational Objectives
Emerging from the University of London, Cosector has had to develop a far more competitive and clearer commercial focus in a relatively short period. Given this backdrop, Phoenix were originally asked to develop the core skills of their sales team. Cosector was under increasing pressure to reach competitive sales targets and develop new avenues of business development. The sales team was made up of a range of experience and ability levels and it was recognised that if targets were to increase and expectation raised, the team would need to be up skilled to help them succeed. Many of the team were finding themselves in sales situations that were new to them and were finding it difficult to make progress.
The team was effectively a reactive team and it needed to be a positive, skilled proactive team. It was also recognised that the Executive team needed to support this development process and would therefore have to develop their own sales skills in order to be able to support the progress of the sales team.
Crucially, the commercial director at Cosector recognised that this would not be solved overnight. His view was very much aligned to our own that lasting change and ongoing success needs a programme of events and activities and not just an overly ambitious “cure all” one off event.
Through further consultation and discussion, we identified the following areas that the sales team needed to work on to have the greatest impact on the overall objectives for the organisation. It is vital to focus on key skills that will have the greatest impact on business objectives rather than try to cover a wide range of “interesting” skills and techniques that will have negligible level of impact on results.
- Understand and be able to use a effective sales structure
- Questioning skills to identify and develop client needs
- Create relevant and powerful sales presentations
- Close sales opportunities with confidence
The structure and format of the programme was relatively simple and straightforward in terms of classroom activity. We used six sessions, three full days and three half days over a nine month period between May 2016 and January 2017. (We subsequently supported this with individual coaching sessions in July 2017). The key to the success of the programme was that training and development became part of the participants’ role.
The first three full day workshops were highly practical giving the chance for the participants to build their skills steadily and in a controlled environment. Our programmes develop skills around the “crawl, walk, run” philosophy. This platform gave the participants the confidence to go back to the live environment and use what they had learnt, knowing that they would be returning to the classroom to discuss their progress and develop their skills further.
As with most of our programmes, we recommended the use of our learning transfer platform – PROMOTE® which would elevate the learning to another level. In this programme, PROMOTE helped the participants to recognise that their training and development was not all about them attending a few workshops! Through PROMOTE® they were able to begin their own learning journey two weeks before the first session. As the programme went on, they were able to use the platform to complete assignments and tasks that would help embed their learning. The platform also helped us and senior members of the team monitor progress and see how and when the learning has actually been applied – giving everyone a real chance to demonstrate some clear ROI.
An important part of the success of the programme was senior management involvement. James Silcock, the Sales Director, attended every session of the programme and was therefore able to understand the techniques and the language used on the programme. He was able to help with practical exercises and specific problems as they arose. He was also able to operate as an internal “coach” to the programme. We recognise this as a crucial aspect in the success of any programme.
Cosector’s executive team also attended a “lite” version of the programme in order that they too could understand the techniques and know how to support team members. We highly recommend this approach as this level of support demonstrates to all involved the importance of the programme and its objectives.
The results achieved through this programme were two fold; team members regularly reported situations where they had maximised a sales opportunity, increased the opportunity by using their newly learnt questioning techniques, revisited so called “lost opportunities” and created brand new sales opportunities – all of which were reflective of the way the skills and techniques had become part of their way of working.
The second indication of success was demonstrated through the way in which the team have developed a far more commercial approach to their role. They are now a proactive sales team rather than a reactive team. They recognise the need to seek opportunities and not wait for them. This is a significant step forward for the organisation as a whole. The success of the programme reflects the need to work on developing skills, techniques, attitudes and approach over a period of time and not to expect it to change and develop overnight.
Achieving attitudinal change is often harder than simply learning a technique. The technique without the attitude is rarely robust enough to be sustained.
The Sales training programme provided by Phoenix was nothing like my slightly wary expectation of sales training. The course is engaging and interactive and really helped with my understanding of how to approach new or existing customers. The role plays and consistent practice really helped change the way I think about customers and their needs, and often more importantly highlighted what not to do in certain situations. Bill was a great coach who provided useful and constructive feedback throughout the course and really understood the individual styles and personalities of myself and my colleagues, and the different areas we should focus on to improve. I find myself thinking “what would Bill do?” in sales situations, and it really helps to bring me back to the skills I learnt!
Helen Kelly, Business Development Manager