The purpose of this case study is to show best practice being applied to improve business development skills.

Workshop Design

An externally qualified business development specialist held reviews with the internal trainer and team managers. This identified their priorities and their perceptions of team development needs and ensured a clear link between their training needs and organisation objectives. A follow up review with representatives from the sales team identified their perceived needs, and tested their perceptions. This allowed proposed changes to be understood and accepted by all participants. It also checked their knowledge of key processes, and the most appropriate training methods linked to their learning styles.
Recorded observation of customer contacts enabled explicit behaviours on the job to be assessed. Team members were allowed to record calls with customers and were given feedback on behaviours they were unconsciously exhibiting. This identified role models of specific competencies and showed where people unknowingly needed to improve. Their own observations made them aware of additional areas for improvement, as well as where they could contribute as successful role models to the planned workshop.
A proposed course outline was then shared with managers and team-members. This gave all participants a final say in the design and obtained full commitment to the programme before roll-out. Objectives included:

* Planning calls in line with their customer development strategy
* Resolving challenges for rapport-building, fact-finding and personalising relationships
* Increasing the number of qualified new appointments with decision-makers

Before the event each participant prepared a role-play simulation using a model framework. This allowed them time to prepare for challenges relevant to themselves, and gave the team a range of issues to resolve.

Workshop Delivery

This was held in short modules locally to avoid unnecessary team accommodation costs. The team managers acted as co-facilitators. It began with everyone role-playing a situation, recording themselves, and then critiquing playbacks. This built awareness of vocal clarity and content on telephone, and how customers perceived them. The group then agreed customer qualification criteria and committed to update the database records with account information which had until then been kept “off the record”. Exercises took place to talk “benefits and outcomes” to remove neutral or negative language from conversations. They practised techniques of structured questioning to build relationships and win commitment from customers. A checklist of key behaviours, objections and responses was also created and used in the simulations.
Participants own psychometric personality profiles were then reviewed, identifying individual behavioural strengths and weaknesses. Strategies were agreed by each person to enable them to modify and adapt their behaviour traits to match customer styles. Each person profiled a customer to discover how to change the way they needed to communicate using neurolinguistic techniques. They then practised behavioural changes based on their own case studies. They agreed the best way to collect personal biodata, how to identify the values of each client, and how to relate appropriately to client values and motivations. Participants then created network maps of people with whom they had relationships. Plans were drawn up to protect from losing key contacts by spreading their links in each account. Communication plans and targets were also drawn up for new prospects.

Follow Up

Individuals wrote up key actions for their follow-up, sharing these with each other for mutual support at work. Everyone received learning support material published by the workshop leader, Clive Bonny, as an aide on the job. He met the team managers to monitor progress and design a follow up session. The follow-up “Action Learning Sets” with the team focused on behavioural practice in small syndicates recording, critiquing and improving outcomes. Within a week of the workshop one of the team closed the biggest deal the team had ever won – over one million dollars.