Why One Champion Sales Organization Trains Its Team for the Long-Term

The last two weeks I had the privilege of being asked to participate as a sub-contract trainer on a major corporate training initiative with the Influencing Skills program for which I am a licensed facilitator.

The 20-plus training sessions were done simultaneously, nationwide in a variety of US cities where the organization’s American “sales clusters” operate. I facilitated two trainings on opposite ends of the country (Norwalk, Connecticut & San Francisco, CA).

We were working with Diageo, a multi-billion dollar consumer products goods (CPG) company committed to improving on its place as the 16th

CPG firm in the world with a market cap in 2009 of $54 Billion. The company manufactures and distributes some of the top spirit brands in the world, such as Johnny Walker, Guinness, Crown Royal, and Smirnoff Vodka.

As part of the firm’s strategy for 2010, their corporate leaders had the vision and forethought of those that I identify as a Champion Leader.

They invested in a program for their sales professionals not usually viewed favorably by many sales organizations, influencing skills. Most sales organizations focus on the philosophy of ABC (Always Be Closing) and bringing home the deal or the contact.

Champion Leaders look for ways to differentiate their organizations from the competition. And, in a highly competitive CPG industry, one way to differentiate a sales professional is to teach them how to positively influence by building long-term relationships based on trust.

This is what we call thinking about the 10th sale first.

Some organizations give lip service to the concept of relationship building in sales but end up creating sales goals and expectations with compensation plans that sabotage the effort and keep sales professionals in an old model.

Champion sales organizations know long-term success and market differentiation in the 21st Century must be built on developing a high-trust relationship with prospects and clients. Based on the feedback from the Diageo workshops I delivered the last two weeks, the Influencing Skills program is a solid way to do it.

What we all learned is that this program has applications beyond leadership and management skills and translates tremendously well to sales organizations, too. Hmm, may be something to think it about?