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Advantexe Learning Solutions - Sales Training or Coaching Program of the Year

Gold Stevie Award Winner 2018, Click to Enter The 2019 Stevie Awards for Sales and Customer Service

Company: Advantexe Learning Solutions, West Conshocken, PA
Company Description: Advantexe is an award-winning training and performance improvement organization that designs and delivers customized, live and web-based learning solutions in Business Acumen, Business Leadership, and Strategic Business Selling learning solutions. We utilize sophisticated business simulations as the catalyst for learning and we enable participants to "learn-by-doing", retain knowledge longer.
Nomination Category: Sales Awards Achievement Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Sales Training or Coaching Program of the Year - Business Services Industries

Nomination Title: Developing empathy skills to build long-term customer relationships

Tell the story about your organization's sales training and/or coaching program since the beginning of July 2016 (up to 650 words). Focus on specific accomplishments, and relate these accomplishments to past performance or industry norms. Be sure to mention obstacles overcome, innovations or discoveries made, and outcomes:

A leading human capital management services company had a group of 250 sales associates, comprised of recent college graduates, focused on selling their solutions to small businesses. The team was under performing and missingrevenue goals.

The company identified that clients and prospects felt that the sales people did not understand their business, and more significantly, did not understand the financial pressure and time constraints they were under. Customers thought that sales professionals were too transactional and just pushed product.

The company also conducted an assessment of the group and identified that 59% of the group was lacking in emotional intelligence and nearly 65% of the group had a significant gap in general business acumen and critical thinking skills.

In order to provide their clients with greater value and to achieve revenue goals, the company partnered with Advantexe to create a learning journey and business simulation where sales associates could interactively “walk a mile in the shoes” of a small business owner. The goal of the program was to expose learners to four sales competencies:

-Understand the financial pressures of their clients
-Personally experience their clients’ world to develop empathy
-Create emotional connections with clients
-Build business acumen skills in order to have business dialogues that positioned the value of their solutions

The Learning Solution

Advantexe created an interactive learning journey that included;

-Four foundational eLearning courses
-A one-day Business Acumen learning workshop
-A customized computer-based business simulation
-Five interval-based reinforcement scenarios delivered through mobile devices

The pre-work and one-day learning event provided learners with a necessary foundation of business acumen concepts including strategy, marketing, and financial management. To ensure stickiness of the learning, a custom computer-based business simulation allowed learners to experience the challenges and opportunities of what it is like managing and running a small business. It centered on a business called Brew² that sold specialty coffee in the morning and craft beer in the evenings.

In the simulation, learners ran Brew² for four simulated quarters, making operational business decisions to drive revenue, manage cash, reduce costs, and turn a profit. In addition to making day-to-day decisions such as pricing and marketing, learners were challenged by business scenarios that focused on such issues as debt obligations, investing in new ideas, competition, and managing employee engagement. Each of these scenarios had financial implications that immediately impacted financial forecasts.

To reinforce the learning, learners also received new business scenarios that continued the simulation story-line after the event. Learners were required to respond to the scenario by posting a video response. Responses were made available for peer and coaching review and scored based on the learning competencies built into the program.

Results

In a post journey survey, 86% of the learners felt that the program met their objectives and will help them understand the challenges of a small business owner.

87% of the learners indicated that the simulation allowed them to clearly see how their cash flow and profits fluctuated from all decisions and issues that they had to address. There was one quarter where a team experienced a negative profit and cash flow due to the level of investments that they had to make to deal with a crises with their food supplier. Another team learned the importance of long-term investing in a new HCM system to reduce costs and increase needed cash flow.

“The simulation was amazing. It was interesting to experience the pain of my customers.”

“All we do is focus on our numbers. I lost sight of how hard running a business is.”

By providing insights into the mindset of their customers, learners indicated the program resulted in:

-Developing more empathy – 94%
-Better able to provide ideas – 83%
-Creating stronger positioning statements – 94%

The simulation received a 98% Net Promotors score and is now being rolled out other sales departments within the client organization.