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Developing a Sales Academy to Drive Sales Performance Key Success Factors and Objectives

Activatum is exclusive partner of Imparta Our solutions within Sales & Leadership Effectiveness Programmes are based on Imparta’s award winning and globally researched concepts and tools. Our Sales Methodologies and Academy Processes are based on proven approaches within Blended Learning and we work in close partnership with Imparta and their global team of consultants.

Imparta White Paper distributed by Activatum – Developing a Sales Academy to Drive Sales Performance

This information is based on a real case.

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 organization capable of selling on value, not features or price: a Sales organization readily recognised as a source of value by the customer. The company initiated a thorough selection process involving 16 service providers. The Head of Sales

Development who was responsible for the initiative to create a Sales Academy explained his decision to select Imparta: “Our strategy is simply to deliver the best customer experience. We are investing in our business to business sales teams as they are wholly focused on creating value for our customers, their skill and behaviour is becoming more critical as we focus on delivering this. We selected Imparta because they have the technologies, flexibility, creativity and client-focused approach to make the Academy concept a reality. We were looking for a partner who was as committed to our vision as we were. We are delighted with their performance.”

Key Success Factors The Sales Academy is a project that remains in progress. However, to date the results are so impressive that the company’s strategy-makers cite the relationship with Imparta as a source of competitive advantage. The key success factors for the Business Sales Academy (and we believe all such sales academies) are: 1. A clear vision agreed prior to the launch of the Academy. 2. A planned series of communications and activities surrounding the launch of the Academy. 3. A client fully engaged in the project, pro-active 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. 4. 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. 5. A significant commitment to reinforcement and coaching activities to drive behavioural change. 6. Outstanding logistical control and systems.

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Imparta White Paper distributed by Activatum – Developing a Sales Academy to Drive Sales Performance

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 sales force, 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

Meeting the Academy Objectives: A Joined Up Approach to Building Sales Effectiveness Successful sales led organizations ensure a consistency of sales approach, processes and language throughout their sales function. This enables consistent management and reinforcement and allows other connected parts of the organization (for example marketing) to provide the right communications and support. It also provides for a more flexible sales force, with individuals able to move from one group to another with greater ease. This ‘joined up thinking’ is at the heart of the structure and design of an Imparta Sales Academy.

Fig 1. A Consistent ApproachThe Sales Academy – Overview of lifecycle phases

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Imparta White Paper distributed by Activatum – Developing a Sales Academy to Drive Sales Performance

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 organization and how their skills may be leveraged even further.

The Sales Academy – Phase 1: Building knowledge During the first months of the Academy, a core set of value selling skills is introduced into the business sales organization through the deployment of Imparta’s core sales programme, Creating Client Value (CCV). CCV was developed in close collaboration with Neil Rackham, one of the world’s leading authorities on sales effectiveness. The content is based on Neil’s most recent research as set out in the book “Rethinking the Salesforce”, and married with Imparta’s ability to create integrated, technology-enabled programmes to drive behavioral change.

Like most modern sales models, CCV is fundamentally customer-centric rather than product-centric. It equips sales executives to help customers understand their problems and opportunities, identify solutions that closely match their needs, and facilitate the buying process.

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Imparta White Paper distributed by Activatum – Developing a Sales Academy to Drive Sales Performance

CCV combines advanced e-Learning with skill-based workshops and the tailored version was designed to build and hone knowledge and skills in the following key areas: • Needs-based and value-based selling • Influencing (Internal and External Customers/Clients) • Risk Taking

Pre-workshop The CCV programme achieves genuine performance impact with the minimum time away from the field. Advanced e-Learning is used to build knowledge and understanding of new concepts at the individual’s own pace, so that the workshop can be focused on skill building and coaching around real applications.

• Building rapport to gain trust


• Managing Customer Relationships

The workshops are highly interactive events combining theory review with extensive skills practice and feedback. The workshops integrate a compelling computer-based sales simulation with tailored role plays and exercises.

• Strategic Account Planning • Market Awareness The CCV programme is customised to reflect the needs and market realities of each of the different sales groups within business sales. A ‘foundations’ programme is also provided for salespeople who are either early in their careers or needing development in their ground level sales skills. Salespeople are selected for the programme either through poor performance on an online value selling test, or at the request of their managers. In total around twenty versions of the core programme were developed. Observers from areas adjacent to the sales organization, including marketing, channels, and product training are invited to the CCV programme to improve the ability of the wider organization to understand and meet the needs of a value selling sales force. The core components of the CCV programme are delivered in three stages - activities which take place before the start of a workshop, the workshop itself, and post workshop activities.

Post-workshop A committed management recognises that reinforcement is critical to the success of the Academy. More investment is made within an Imparta Sales Academy in post workshop activities (including coaching) than in the CCV workshops themselves. This is a significant departure from most ‘course based’ training interventions. Reinforcement involves the following components. 1. Coaching. No sales training initiative can be successful without the support and participation of sales managers. As an integral part of the Academy, training is provided to all managers in both generic coaching skills, and in specific sales coaching skills. These workshops give all the sales managers the capability to coach their sales teams in the application of the skills and strategies inherent in Creating Client Value. © Imparta Ltd.


Imparta White Paper distributed by Activatum – Developing a Sales Academy to Drive Sales Performance

2. Imparta’s online service, i-Coach. i-Coach is made available to all participants as a reinforcement tool. Participants access all the Creating Client Value theory tutorials and sales effectiveness templates on an on-going basis. i-Coach also provides reactive online coaching in response to participants questions. 3. The development and use of application tools. Imparta has developed a range of easy to use tools to encourage the sales person to remember and apply the taught sales process. These tools are provided online and also on delegates mobile

XDA devices. They are therefore immediately accessible. The tools are built into day-to-day operations, for account review sessions, strategising around problems or ‘stuck’ accounts, and for planning sales meetings. 4. The Sales Way. To create consistency of sales disciplines and behaviours, Imparta will where the client wishes, work with them to develop a framework for best practices and behaviours for the sales organization. Communication and reinforcing such initiatives is now a core activity of the Sales Academy.

The Sales Academy – Phase 2: Applying the value selling skills The second phase of the Academy ensures that new value selling skills are being applied. During the second phase, coaching moves from the classroom into the field. Sales managers receive one to one coaching both in their own performance as managers and in their ability to coach their sales team in value selling. To ensure ongoing alignment with the business’s objectives, a review team consisting of senior sales managers and Imparta personnel meet on a monthly basis to ensure the choice of training activities continue to reflect business priorities.

• Skills programmes for Telephone Account Teams • Skills programmes for Customer Service Teams • Skills programmes for Account Retention Teams • Workshops on writing compelling value creating proposals • Workshops for Product Trainers to help them position products in a client centric (rather than feature led) context. These programmes are consistent with the language and approach of the core CCV programme and extended the Academy’s brief well beyond the ‘on the road’ sales teams.

As a result a series of competency and issue based programmes have been added to the Academy’s activities during the second phase. These include:

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Imparta White Paper distributed by Activatum – Developing a Sales Academy to Drive Sales Performance

The Sales Academy – Phase 3: A top performing sales organization This phase of the programme focuses on moving high achievers (approx top 20%) onto Gold Accreditation status through observed performance and business results. The Academy continues to deepen key value selling skill areas. Each individual agreed a training plan based on their

need to improve any competency areas where underperformance is preventing a higher level of accreditation or improved sales performance. A suite of competency programmes was provided including (among others) strategic account management, negotiation skills, and business acumen skills.

The Sales Academy – Phase 4: Leveraging the highest performers Now that all levels of the salesforce are involved in raising their performance, it is possible to identify those who are truly the highest performers in the sales organization. The intent is to find ways to leverage their talents even further, whilst making sure appropriate

recognition and reward ensures they stay in the organization to push it to new levels of achievement. Top ‘Gold’ level salespeople can apply to join a ‘Platinum’ level group, which will represent only a tiny percent of the salesforce.

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. The accreditation scheme follows the three phases of the Academy. Bronze Accreditation – During Phase 1. To achieve the first level of accreditation each salesperson and manager is required to have demonstrated they have acquired a desired level of knowledge on the core value selling principles. Silver Accreditation – During Phase 2. Individuals in the sales teams have to demonstrate improvement on key sales competencies. Gold Accreditation – During Phase 3. High achievers are invited to apply for Gold accreditation, based on demonstrating and quantifying a significantly improved level of sales performance an agreed period.

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Imparta White Paper distributed by Activatum – Developing a Sales Academy to Drive Sales Performance

Platinum Accreditation – During Phase 4. Top tier Gold standard sales people may be invited to apply for Platinum Accreditation. Those in the Platinum group may be assigned for special projects and receive additional financial reward and recognition by being part of this elite tier.

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. Measurement Level


Level 1: Reactions

Participant reactions to the workshop content, approach and faculty are measured using on-the-spot evaluation forms.

Level 2: Learning

Learning is measured by Mastery tests following the core programmes. The Mastery Test is a scenario-based test that is designed to get beyond whether people have understood the definitions to whether they have learned how to apply the concepts that have been taught. For this reason, scores are usually lower than on a ‘definitional’ test, but the results are more closely linked to actual performance. The test is completed online through Imparta’s i-Coach platform.

Level 3: Transfer

The transfer of learning is measured through the initial benchmarking and subsequent measurement of performance against key competencies . Performance improvement has to be observed by managers.

Level 4: Results

Linking training to the business results is always difficult, not least because there are so many other variables involved. However as part of the Academy’s measurement sales teams are surveyed as to the impact of the Academy training and reports provided on to management as to quantifiable uplifts in actual sales results. Some Examples: In the first 3 months of Academy operation in one client, £5 million ($9 million) of new business was attributed at least in part to the impact of the Imparta Sales Academy training. Tracking research established that a client’s ratio of bid wins was 1:10 before the CCV training, or when CCV methods were not used; compared with an uplift to wins of 3: 10 bids where CCV skills were put into practice. Further uplifts are expected as the training penetrates further and deeper in the organization.

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Imparta White Paper distributed by Activatum – Developing a Sales Academy to Drive Sales Performance

Administration Imparta formed a steering committee to manage the logistics and monitor the ongoing progress and impact of the Academy. Imparta takes responsibility for: • Venue Selection • Invitations and delegate co-ordination • Provision of pre-work • Programme logistics • Monthly reporting • Online tests and results reporting • Collection of competency data and updates • Provision of an online support centre. This greatly reduces the investment of resource and time required of a client’s management team. The provision of a strong central logistics service reduces administrative errors to a negligible level.

How can we help you? Please contact us for further inspiration as to how we can help you grow your business further. Or please contact Managing Director Gitte Ravn directly on Mobile +45 4038 4949

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Developing a Sales Academy to Drive Sales Performance  

Key Success Factors and Objectives

Developing a Sales Academy to Drive Sales Performance  

Key Success Factors and Objectives

Profile for activatum