Communication and Sales Skills
A UK based organisation employing several thousand people worldwide. The company has five divisions operating in the European market. It has been identified that the market structure has changed, with further changes still to come.
Increasingly organisations in this particular financial sector are coming under pressure to perform in a more pressurised environment. They have less autonomy than they had in the past, with technological and legal changes having a greater significant influence over their work practices. As a group, they are expected to demonstrate a greater mix of skills than in the past in order to remain effective in their role.
There were three main issues to be addressed:
How to equip bright people with the skills to be able to identify, open up and harvest opportunities through swift buying of risk exposure. Skills needed are the ability to sell and communicate well, being seen to be assertive and to be professional in their communications with clients and prospective clients.
How to be able to quickly understand the key dynamics of a proposal and to be able to present a compelling case to peers, under the constraints of limited time and information.
How to identify and offer guidance in the core skills and behaviours required by new entrants to the business, and measure their improvement over time.
Our first question is always ‘What’s important to you in a learning process?’ It’s important to us at Management Learning & Coaching to not only understand the ‘what’, in other words the content of the learning package, but also the ‘how’ – how do your people like to learn.
Another thing we make a habit of is designing a staged approach, to ensure that at each stage or gateway, we check back and make sure the process for continued learning is the right one.
What was particularly important to this organisation was that we undertook a comprehensive investigation phase, including interviews with the delegates, their managers and commissioning agents, to ensure we designed the right programme for the stated learning outcomes. It was vital to listen to the feedback from delegates on their learning so far, and ensure that we reviewed their progress against their own action plans at each stage.
Training input was followed up with one-to-one coaching to help delegates implement the behavioural changes they had committed to in the training, and ensure continuous improvement and motivation between training modules. In addition, the whole programme, including the work-based projects, was reviewed by delegates, senior managers and commissioning agents on a regular basis, and improved upon as necessary.
The Client's Success Criteria
When we asked the question ‘What do you want to achieve through the learning, and how will you know when you’ve got it?’ the organisation was very clear about its desired outcomes:
The approach had to result in real lasting, measurable change
Delegates had to become accountable for their own learning and their performance improvement
The changes, particularly in the area of soft skiCaslls, had to be identifiable to others
here needed to be measurable and demonstrable value for money
The results of the training, coaching and project work speak for themselves. The delegates have stepped up to the mark and taken responsibility for their own learning, demonstrating remarkable improvement not only from one module to the next, but in their everyday dealings with peers, team members and clients.
A significant improvement was noticed in the confidence of the delegates. Individuals were better able to find and open out sales opportunities. They were able to make clear and confident presentations with succinct messages, and were able to negotiate better deals both internally and externally. Listening and questioning skills were much improved and this helped underpin much of the above.
Stages of Learning Within Each of the Four Modules
Stage 1 - Training needs analysis
Stage 2 - Course pre-work, articles and case studies, as a prerequisite for joining the programme
Stage 3 - Interviews with delegates to check expectations and pre-course preparation
Stage 4 - Training programme, half day duration
Stage 5 - Action plan implementation, including logging experiences of behaviour and any changing habits
Stage 6 - One-to-one coaching sessions: approximately 1 hour duration
Stage 7 - Review of module and changes as necessary
Stages 3-6 were repeated for each module. The topics covered so far with the group have been:
Selling and communication skills
Persuading and presenting skills
Negotiating behaviour skills