Training Top 125 Best Practice: Van Meter, Inc.’s Sales Collaboration Project
At electrical and mechanical parts wholesaler/distributor Van Meter, Inc., Learning and Development (L&D) partnered with the Chief Growth Officer to identify the biggest disconnects between the Core Sales and Product Divisions, which both work with the company’s largest accounts. L&D facilitated a session to explore what was working and where the issues were between these two groups. A core gap was identified and a project team was put in place to identify how to address the issue. L&D led this project team comprising Sales leaders, Account and Product managers, Continuous Improvement, and Marketing.
Over several months, the group developed four specific expectations that needed to be carried out by the Sales teams:
- A pledge that defines the individual responsibilities and commitments of Core and Product Sales groups to Van Meter’s customers and to each other
- A list of five core questions Account managers can ask customers to gain insight on needs the Product Divisions can help with
- Supplemental questions to dive deeper to better understand customer needs
- A standard template for internal product training that is application focused
These outcomes and expectations were shared with all Core and Product Division salespeople at an annual sales meeting in April, where a video showing Account and Product managers reciting the pledge and its importance was shared. Business cards with the five core and supplemental questions were given to all salespeople. The product training template was reviewed with an example product training given. All materials shared also were made available on the company intranet. Initial formative evaluations were given to achieve Kirkpatrick Level 1.
Following the meeting, the project team joined the sales team again at their meeting in June. During this meeting, the organization assessed how the questions and product training were working. Results were positive from both Account and Product managers.
L&D also partnered with one of the larger Product Divisions, Automation, which is a technical group and trains core sales Account managers on product to sell to customers, to help them be more effective with the application training. A train-the-trainer session was held with the group to ensure their ability to effectively train. Kirkpatrick Level 3 results were achieved through the observation of better training delivery by Automation leaders and Core salespeople. Automation sales profits increased by 35 percent, and 40 percent of salespeople reported the product trainings were application focused.
The Project Team followed up with the Chief Growth Officer and Sales leaders to further assess progress. They observed that the company was making significant headway with this initiative through the questions and training template. Sales managers observed changes in their salespeople. Sales profits increased by 20 percent, and Product salespeople were brought into conversations with customers at an increase of 15 percent over a four-month time period.