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Observing a Sales Training Program…

I’m in Boston today and tomorrow observing a sales training program that is being delivered to one of ESR’s smaller clients.  This is not something we typically do at ESR, but these circumstances are special:  Our client is in the midst of a textbook-perfect deployment of a new sales methodology, training and the implementation of some powerful Sales 2.0 technology.  I want to personally document this as we are planning to publish a case study three months down the road.

ESR had the opportunity to perform the needs analysis (we call it a Sales Effectiveness Audit).  The CEO had engaged ESR, looking for a comprehensive and objective view of the sales capabilities of his 22-person team, and options for increasing their performance.  Working closely with the VP of marketing and two regional VPs of sales, we transformed relevant components of that audit into an RFP.

ESR proposed a long list of vendors.  Those firms received the RFPs (after receiving a heads-up from me) and the client culled the list down after evaluating the responses.  It’s important to mention that in the email I sent to the CEOs of the long-listed firms, I personally verified that each vendor had an equal opportunity to win, it was a real, funded opportunity and that no vendors had any input into the RFP or contact with anyone at our client’s company.  That took some of the sting out of the RFP process, although one arrogant, well-known vendor did nothing more than copy and paste from their website into the RFP.  So much for their approach to aligning their selling process with how their customers buy.

The short-listed vendors presented to members of a team consisting of the CEO, the two regional sales VPs, the marketing VP and ESR.  A finalist was selected and contract negotiations completed.

Over the period of two months, the vendor customized their foundation selling methodology and sales enablement technology tools to align perfectly with the client’s customers’ buying processes.  This was done in a way that engaged the client’s executive team and greatly facilitated executive buy-in, all the way up to the CEO.  We’ll cover other facets of this initiative in our case study and several upcoming ESR/Insight Briefs.

ESR watched the vendor’s consultant validate his findings with sales reps in the field, getting their buy-in as well. 

As you can see, this is not a tactical sales training event to fill some time at a sales kick-off meeting.  In fact, the client originally wanted the training to take place during their kick-off in January, but the vendor, along with ESR strongly suggested that that wasn’t enough time for the process re-engineering work.  The CEO relented.  Smart move on his part.

The CEO kicked the training off this morning, recounting much of what I’ve covered above.  He talked convincingly about how his company would support and fund the team’s effort to improve their capabilities over the next three years—that it was a long-term investment.

Then one of the regional sales VPs covered the selling challanges that they had been facing and specifically how the re-eingineered process, training and technology support would provide a new path to winning.

The program is going very well as I write this, five hours into it.  The facilitator is clearly very familiar with the client, the team and the process.  The sales reps (and VPs, who are taking the program) are pumped and already discussing how using their new approach and tools will change the game in the field.  The balance among lecture, team, individual and pc-based learning is apparently working quite well.

If you’d like to discuss any aspect of this, let me know.  You can call or write.

I’ll keep you posted.  (See part 2.)

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