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“There is a lot of buzz about Exceller8, that it’s this amazing program that’s landed well for sales reps and managers. Suntory is a multinational so other parts of the business want to adapt Exceller8 for their market too.”

David Brindley, Sales Capability Manager
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Challenge

Over 300 sales reps operate in 14 territories across Australia and New Zealand.

These reps visit up to 30 small business customers each day. They’re well incentivized to maximize orders from these customers, but when David first spoke with Inspire Group, it was common for the reps to be ‘order takers’ rather than ‘value makers’.

They rarely seized the opportunity to cross-sell and up-sell, nor were they building the sort of strong relationships with store owners that would give Frucor Suntory an edge over competitors.

Frucor had also recently been acquired by Japanese multinational beverage company Suntory. The new business, Frucor Suntory, had new strategic imperatives. Sales reps were expected to shift from being order takers to value makers – trusted drinks experts advising small businesses on the beverage market, helping them make sodas and energy drinks a more profitable part of their business.

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Approach

The partnership is marked by close collaboration, and a willingness to challenge each other to push beyond the status quo. Inspire Group designs sales training programs using a three-step approach.

  • Collaborative design session. This brings together all stakeholders to explore challenges and learning needs and define how success will be measured.
  • High-level design document. This outlines the insights captured in the Co-Design session, documents deliverables and the learning architecture for the program.
  • Design, delivery, and logistics. Maps out design and delivery phases, responsibilities, key milestones, and delivery dates. Deliverables are designed in agile sprints.

The new Exceller8 sales training performance program has six parts.

  1. Six e-learning modules.
  2. Six podcasts.
  3. Two virtual peer-to-peer learning conferences.
  4. Yatte Minahare progression program.
  5. A social community for sales reps to share learnings.
  6. A landing page hub for all sales learning content.

A few years ago, the interactivity of e-learning was a welcome relief for sales professionals bored by interminable slide decks. But e-learning has become standard, and familiarity can decrease e-learning’s effectiveness as a learning tool.

Inspire Group met that challenge by innovating a richer learning ecosystem, from videos to podcasts and games, to reflect the diverse ways people like to learn in their own time. They also created a more relevant learning ecosystem by using real life scenarios that learners recognize and respect.

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Diversity and Inclusion

It was also important to represent the diversity of their customers. The previous Exceller8 sales course represented their customer archetypes as birds. Inspire Group evolved this into real people. Store owners included an Australian, a Kiwi, a recent immigrant from Argentina and a non-binary person, all aligned to Frucor Suntory customer personas.

Giving customer archetypes names and back stories made them more compelling and created empathy to help sales reps build better customer relationships.

Podcasts for On-The-Road Learning

This innovation was driven by the insight that, for sales reps, their car is their office. The time spent driving between sales appointments is the perfect opportunity to listen to an entertaining, bite-size chunk of learning.

To make the podcast more than passive listening, Inspire Group created ad breaks between each segment, with calls to action encouraging sales reps to implement their learnings immediately. This brought learning best practice to life in an audio format.

Reps enjoyed digestible chunks of learning followed by an activity and reported putting their learnings into practice faster in the field.

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Outcomes

The overall impact of the new Exceller8 sales training program has been to elevate the culture and the performance of the Frucor Suntory sales team in Australia and New Zealand. When it comes to the three key success KPIs established for the program, Frucor Suntory have seen ROI in all three areas.
  1. Sales results have improved 15% since the program was rolled out.
  2. Retention of sales staff has improved 60%, falling from 30% turnover to 12%.
  3. Sales skills have improved 2 points from 5 to 7.58.

“One of the big things from sales reps, is they like that Exceller8 is adapted to all learning styles. I got a message from a new rep saying, ‘I love this program. I don't have to read every word. I can hear the characters talking.’ And reps appreciate the real-life scenarios and relatable customer characters. For example, we’ve an interaction with Ivan, and English isn't his first language. So, his dialogue isn’t perfect, and you get the sense conversation is difficult because there's a bit of a language barrier. That's what our sales reps deal with day-to-day.”

One big takeaway from this program is to think outside the computer. E-learning is at risk of becoming as predictable and one-dimensional as a PowerPoint deck. Multi-layered sales programs are more effective, not only because they’re more engaging, but also because they provide access for all learners, including the neuro diverse.

The success of this program comes down to Frucor Suntory and Inspire Group’s willingness to push boundaries, invest in innovative content like podcasts, create opportunities for peer-to-peer learning, celebrate learners and subject matter experts, and make learning content relevant with realistic scenarios learners encounter every day.

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Some awards we’ve won

platinum-award brandon-excellence-award human-resource-vendors golden-globe-award world-training-development excellence-leadership-award Brandon Hall Group HCM Excellence Award Gold 2022