Building a solutions-driven sales culture. Can you handle it?
Liquid Telecom had six months. Kyle Whitehill — then CEO — entered an organisation that was facing crisis. Refusing to be distracted by the symptoms, Kyle recognised the cause: An organisation that should have been entirely focused on its salesforce was placing its efforts elsewhere. To realign the company he had to solve the deeply complex problem of transforming an existing sales team, operating in a faltering culture, and he had to do it in six months.
Lucky for Kyle, TPA has close and personal relations with deeply complex problems of this nature. Working the time pressure we developed a tactical game plan that targeted Liquid Telecom’s leaders, salespeople, processes and environment. Our objective: To engineer a culture of sales and build a confident, competent, solution-oriented salesforce.
We gave ourselves 100 days to do it.
A tailored profit service model governed the change management design and the measurement, connecting the future to the people and the people to the future. Design the right context for the desired performance and guess what, you’ll get it.
Adapted from Heskett, J.L. Sasser, W.E & Schlesinger, L.A. (1977), The Service Profit Chain. New York: The Free Press
Leadership is the single biggest influencer of culture. To change the behaviours of a 200-strong salesforce, we invited leaders to breathe deep, fit their boxing gloves and step up. Through a series of leadership engagements, and a pioneering programme we named SalesUp, leaders owned their responsibility, in turn encouraging their teams to own personal and organisational objectives. Leaders became coaches, trained to guide, inspire and support the Liquid sales team. Using sport as a parallel for business performance, we communicated the concept of marginal gains — or the 1% factor — which celebrates incremental improvements and the importance of better decisions, better choices and better actions, daily.
An epic goal was to be achieved. Grand intentions were set. Leaders had to show up and stand up; communicate granular tasks so as to keep their teams focused and on course. Priorities were clear. Obstacles identified. Learning noted. Soon, the organisation was able to share a narrative of what success looked, smelt and felt like, and knew exactly what they had to do to realise it.
- Sir Dave Brailsford, General Manager, Team Sky, Advocate of the 1% factor
We share the above belief with Liquid. To realise tremendous change, it needs to be by design. Only when visible, obvious and personal does change begin to infiltrate individuals. Change begins with a person! We considered all touchpoints.
Hygiene factors and daily rituals were addressed. Positive, unapologetic language encouraged uptake and bravery. When environmental concerns were raised, we joined the dispersed salesforce on one floor, so that they may recognise their role as one team realising one value proposition. The pull quote: The CEO changed his title to Chief Sales Officer. We created a context in which people felt respected and appreciated, and prompted a culture that inspired people to live into aspirant possibilities.
Unprecedented. Conceptually, emotionally and practically,
Liquid Telecom turned itself around. Targets spiked within the 3-month period TPA was on the ground, and organisational sentiment improved fundamentally, with the biggest gains in leadership confidence and brand ambassadorship. No more apologies and no backing down. Liquid Telecom became an army of lionhearted salespeople on a mission: To connect with one person, so as to connect Africa.
Individual coaching sessions held
Percentage of increase in gross ACV over a 3 month period
Percentage of increase in pipeline over a three-month period
Percentage of brand ambassadorship of Liquid Telecom employees
Percentage of improvement in organisational sentiment
– Kyle Whitehill, Former CEO of Liquid Telecom