When markets change quickly, a very common approach I have seen in many organizations is to rely on the sales team to drive growth. On paper this sounds like a no-brainer, but is just pushing for more sales enough?
In my experience, the companies with the most effective sales strategy don’t just increase the quarterly targets, but instead first invest a lot of effort in making sure their salespeople have the best tool to handle the market: understanding the financial reality of their clients. This way, the sellers are equipped with a new arsenal of sales arguments, based on practical and specific financial benefits rather than depending on product specifics.
Henrik Olofsson is a learning specialist with a passion for business simulations. With Celemi HQ in Sweden as a base, Henrik helps large MNC to make change happen and get the most out of their L&D initiatives.
Client-centric value selling
For instance, one of my clients has been implementing this model quite successfully. A Fortune 500 global leader in power and automation technologies wanted to boost their growth by enhancing their overall sales effectiveness. Creating true customer value is a central part of the company’s sales approach and having the right knowledge to understand and the right terminology to speak business finance is fundamental is this.
Based on a needs analysis conducted internally, the HR team discovered that in many situations the sellers were not always able to put themselves in the client’s shoes, missing the opportunity for potential deals. The HR Director and talent team therefore devised a learning program specifically focused on increasing the level of business acumen within the sales population.
Partnering with Celemi, the organization developed a series of learning opportunities centered around our Celemi Apples & Oranges™ business simulation with one crucial goal: understanding of how their products and services impact the client’s P&L and Balance Sheet. Throughout the initiative, learning the basics of reading and analyzing financial statements provided the account managers with a variety of different financial sales reasonings and made them more confident when addressing the clients’ C-level decision makers or the purchasing/finance department. Deep-rooted familiarity with concepts like credit lines and working capital could now help salespeople empathize with the internal struggles of their prospects and find the solution that best fits their needs.
The results of a program follow up survey made the HRD’s day: empowered sales teams, progress in the company growth and increasing employee engagement.
In the end, people development is about giving teams what they need, not necessarily what they think they need. I think that even self-proclaimed “not-finance people”, regardless their department, will benefit from looking under the monetary hood of a company to see how cash flow impacts everyday decisions. In some cases, as witnessed by a colleague of mine, it might also be possible to turn an HR admin manager who, upon entering a business simulation workshop, said “Oh no! I HATE finance! I’m out!” into an account manager with huge budget responsibility.
In 2018, Celemi Global is launching a knowledge sharing project with industry experts on the ongoing trends, starting with profitable growth, the holy grail of every organization.
What challenges do you face in your company to successfully develop your workforce? How do you provide inspirational practical learning opportunities that make a significant impact in your organization?