Booker is Britain's leading cash and carry operator. It supplies the retailing and catering industries with over 23,000 lines comprising a fully comprehensive range covering grocery, fresh & frozen, beers, wines, spirits, tobacco and non-food items. In addition, it operates a retail symbol group through the Premier brand of stores.
The Booker business had been undergoing considerable change since its de-merger from the Big Food Group plc. Part of this process was to restructure the sales operation to realign sales to its core business channels of Catering and Retail. The sales force of 80 Catering Development Managers and Retail Development Managers were supplemented by over 20 new recruits and then split between those two channels. The management structure was strengthened and rationalized.
It was recognized that a critical success factor in implementing change and then driving sales growth would be a well trained and highly motivated sales force.
Booker approached Metamorphose to explore the possibilities of working together to provide a business solution that would enhance sales performance, maintain motivation through the change process and ultimately increase sales revenue, to ensure company growth.
Working closely with Booker, Metamorphose carried out detailed research to fully understand the critical issues facing the business and get to grips with the reality of the challenges facing the newly structured sales force.
As a result of this work it was felt that the most effective way of developing the sales skills and behaviours needed and creating high levels of motivation would be through a combination of a sales workshop and a Mission Based© Training event. The workshop was designed to cover the skills, techniques and competencies of fundamental sales in the Booker sales environment. The Mission then enabled delegates to practice those skills in a realistic business simulation.
Two 2-day programmes were developed, one for the Catering Development Managers and one for the Retail Development Managers. Each focused totally on effective selling within their specific business environment. The Mission Based© Training element immediately followed the skills workshop and consisted of an approach totally unique to Metamorphose, with an emphasis on experiential learning. This sales simulation realistically mimicked Booker's day-to-day sales processes and replicated the selling environment in which Booker's sales people worked. Professional actors played the parts of buyers and influencers.
The delegates had to plan their approach to each stage of the Mission and their various meetings were filmed and recorded through unobtrusive video streaming technology and were "played back" in reviews enabling the maximum learning to be extracted. Each "selling team" had a performance coach whose role was to ensure each sales person achieved the maximum learning from the event by allowing them to practise, review, repeat and improve each task. Coaches ensured the learning was translated back to the work environment by setting action plans with individuals.
Booker sales management was fully involved in both the development and implementation of the programme. They took part in a 1-day coaching course to enable them to sharpen their skills and continue to "coach in" improvements in their teams after the programme was completed. In this way sustainability was planned into the project from the beginning.
Metamorphose ran a series of these programmes over a five month period and trained the entire sales force of over 100 Development Managers. Reaction to the programme from the delegates who attended was overwhelmingly positive, with them giving it an overall average grading of 93%.
"The programmes were very well received by our sales force," said Warren Thomson, Sales Director. "The courses were well researched and tailored to meet our unique business needs. It realistically simulated our sales process and gave significant in-sights into how each person should develop their sales skills."
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