Creating a Culture of Listening

The world’s largest producer of components for industrial assets was facing real difficulty in the years immediately following the last energy sector downturn. Like many engineering-based companies, they had enjoyed consecutive years of growth following acquisitions and restructures, but the downturn of 2014-16 had hit them hard.

A large part of the problem was their inability to adapt to the demanding needs of their customers who were needing more, for less. Despite possessing some of the greatest engineering minds in the world, they were struggling to sell - but why? Feedback from customers told them the high-end technological solutions they were plugging rarely provided the value they needed.

This new context required a change in mindset at this a very traditional, engineering construction and services provider. The Group Sales Director had a progressive idea which supported the CEO’s aim to take his global business on a journey….a journey of better listening and value creation for the customer.

A bespoke initiative to change the behaviours of the global sales team needed to be designed. To do this, consensus on ‘how we do sales’ needed to be reached by the senior sales leadership team - to agree on a set of behaviours to align the teams with.

A workshop was facilitated to produce a set of 6 behaviours, for which an assessment solution was created to be conducted with the global sales and technical-sales team of 205 participants. Each assessment included psychometric profiling, ‘real play’ activities of customer/sales person interactions, and in-depth competency assessment on the 6 sales behaviours.

The programme was carried out face-to-face in some geographies, and via remote video-calls in others. A report on each participant was written, highlighting strengths and areas for development in relation to the suite of sales behaviours, accompanied by an individual action plan, feedback and coaching.

This was a professional development programme, so was promoted as a positive opportunity for the team (rather than a process aimed at reducing headcount - a common fear). It was embraced by them - any initial anxieties were allayed when the personal reports and accompanying development action plans were received.

The results of the 205 assessments were consolidated into a talent and succession planning report of findings, which was presented to the CEO and selected members of his immediate team. This informed organisational changes, some re-organisation of the sales leadership team, changes in recruitment assessment processes and delivered heightened employee engagement. A small number of individuals de-selected themselves and moved out of the business, realising that they couldn’t align themselves with the new way of ‘doing sales’.

The final stage was to create an in-house training programme, delivered by some of the highest scoring sales leaders. It was important to contribute to the design and content of this, which was successfully implemented world-wide.

In the two years that followed the initiative, the client has recovered impressively and is enjoying profitable returns on this investment in its sales people.

"Getting succession planning right is a skill in itself; the right successor can help to maintain growth momentum in a business. We like to plan for companies well in advance so that a transition period can be enjoyable and productive. We understand that sometimes the need for succession comes unexpectedly; as a result, we like to conduct a comprehensive search with speed and accuracy but with the understanding from the client on exactly what is needed."

David Wilson, Co-founder and Director | Hybrid Search

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