A Fortune 500 agriculture corporation and leader in the global fertilizer industry with a largely commoditized product set.
The business challenge
The client had a strong track record of success, but was looking to elevate its competitive advantage by introducing a premium fertilizer product to the marketplace. The introduction of this type of premium product set was a first for the entire industry. It prompted a major shift in the client’s corporate strategy and presented a number of strategic challenges for their sales organization.
This shift was particularly challenging for the Argentina and Chile or “Southern Cone” sales team where commodity-based selling was deeply imbedded in the sales culture. Specifically:
- After decades of selling commodities and building client relationships, Southern Cone sales leadership quickly realized that their current sales strategies would be significantly less effective in an environment that required selling the value of a premium product.
- The sales team needed to learn how to sell value to their client base; a premium product in a commoditized market.
- With a lack of experience in value selling, sales managers also needed to adopt the skills in order to coach their teams on value selling.
- The new country manager established significant growth targets for the sales of this new premium product set.
The Baker Tilly solution
The Baker Tilly sales effectiveness consulting team used the following methods to position the Southern Cone sales team to sell the premium product more effectively in a commoditized market. Methods included:
- Competency study and gap analysis: A proprietary sales competency assessment exercise was conducted to identify trends and competency gaps amongst sales team members. The results showed that while each sales rep had a different set of competencies to focus on for improvement, a few common themes across the entire sales team surfaced.
- Personal assessment reports: Personal assessment reports for each of the client’s sales reps provided visibility into individual opportunities for improvement. Each rep worked with their manager to create personal development plans with distinct competency areas to focus on along with specific metrics and actions steps to work toward improving those competencies.
- Sales competency training: On-demand, electronic training materials were developed to facilitate the personalized learning process. Robust in-person training sessions were also conducted on value selling, pre-call planning and demand forecasting to address larger, organizational competency gaps identified in the gap analysis.
- Sales manager coaching clinic: Sales manager training was conducted to help managers learn how to be more effective coaches as well as how to develop team members’ value selling competencies. A coaching “toolkit” was developed that included specific talking points for sales managers to utilize in future meetings with team members. Sales team plans and metrics were also defined to measure progress.
- The training materials and clinics have facilitated sustainable, long term sales performance improvements within the Southern Cone sales team.
- The client was able to exceed growth targets in the specific regions of the Southern Cone, where the premium product set was launched.
- Post-completion of the sales competency analysis and training, the client’s sales team is not only positioned for continued success in value-based selling, but is also more agile and able to adapt to future strategic shifts.
“Customers are seeing a change—they are seeing a different level of professionalism. The larger the customer, the better it is received.” – David Lee, Country Manager, Southern Cone
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