Develop a Sales Academy to Drive Sales Performance

The Background

The company operated in an industry characterised by intense competition between four leading companies and a range of smaller companies with differing business models.

Their business sales management team challenged themselves to overcome their customers’ price driven mindset. To do this they knew that they needed to build a sales organisation capable of selling on value, not features or price: a sales organisation readily recognised as a source of value by the customer.

Key Success Factors

The Sales Academy is a project that remains in progress. The key success factors for a Business Sales Academy are:

  • A clear vision agreed prior to the launch of the Academy.
  • A planned series of communications and activities surrounding the launch of the Academy.
  • A client fully engaged in the project, proactive in its development and implementation, and rigorous in ensuring the Academy remains aligned with the business’s objectives. The success of the Academy is a tribute to the very strong working relationship and sense of partnership between the client and service provider.
  • A solution designed fully to reflect the existing competencies and market realities of the client. A series of off-the-shelf programmes is not an option.
  • A significant commitment to reinforcement and coaching activities to drive behavioural change.
  • Outstanding logistical control and systems.

Building a Sales Academy – Typical Objectives

The Sales Academy is a multi-year skill development programme provided to everyone within the direct business-to-business salesforce, and associated sales support and customer-facing staff.

Objectives set for Imparta in building a Sales Academy have included:

  • Increase revenue and profitability
  • Change behaviours through an holistic approach to building sales effectiveness
  • Differentiate by creating value through sales
  • Build deeper, more strategic client relationships
  • Be recognised as world class in sales approach, customer service and sales training

The Sales Academy – Overview of lifecycle phases

Communications are critical to any change process. The Academy launch involves separate sessions with senior and second line managers, ensuring they fully understand, contribute and buy into the goals of the Academy and their roles within it. Online and physical communications are also prepared for all members of the specific sales teams who are the first community to be brought into the Sales Academy.

The Academy lifecycle moves through various phases. The first phase focuses on making sure that the sales force understand why their behaviours needed to change, and then on training them in the core value selling process being built or enhanced by the training.

The second phase is to ensure that all salespeople and managers are applying their new value selling skills. Central to this is the implementation of an extensive coaching programme. During the second phase, the core value-selling programme is being extended beyond the field sales force to desk based sales and telephone sales teams.

The third phase provides the impetus for each salesperson to maximise their sales performance through further targeted training, support and coaching. Each individual receives their own learning plan aimed at bringing all their competencies up to at least ‘good performance level’ by the end of the phase.

Clients may include a fourth phase to focus on identifying the highest performers in the sales organisation and how their skills may be leveraged even further.

Accreditation

Accreditation plays a key role in maintaining the momentum of the Academy. It provides the sales force with clear direction as to the changes in behaviour required of them, as well as a source of motivation to encourage them.

Measurement

Consistent, regular and thorough measurement is central to building and maintaining management confidence in the Academy, as well as demonstrating the holistic nature of the project. Measurements have been based on the Kirkpatrick scale, and all are reported to the Sales Management team on a monthly basis.

The Future

The Imparta Sales Academy is widely regarded in the client community as being an enormous success. Regular reports of business wins being attributed to the training and coaching underpin the Academy’s reputation. The success has reflected well, and raised the profile, of the executives involved in the project.

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