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Blended Learning Boosts Sales Skills at IBM

Wednesday, September 21, 2016
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The marketplace and client mindset are constantly evolving, and the sales function must continuously evolve as well. Enter sales enablement. The ATD Excellence in Practice Award for sales enablement is presented to a practice that fosters and enables world-class sales competencies and standards that guide and empower sales leaders and sales training professionals to develop the next generation of sales people. 
 

ATD Excellence in Practice 2015 Award winner IBM, based in Armonk, New York, partnered with Executive Conversation (now part of Corporate Visions International) and FinListics Solutions to develop a blended learning solution that would boost sales talent.

Challenge

To be successful in today’s environment, IBM sellers require a deeper understanding of the client and must consistently bring value to key decision makers, including C-level executives and business unit leaders. At this higher level, sellers need to confidently use finance language to effectively engage in business-level dialogues with key client executives (like CFOs) who are involved in supplier relationships and their company's buying decisions.

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Solution

To address these needs, IBM developed a blended learning approach to help drive revenue growth in existing and new clients, and to improve skills that enable the ability to call higher in client organizations, especially outside the IT department. They identified the need to more deeply link their solutions to business outcomes. IBM also sought to shorten sales cycles and increase deal sizes. They identified the need to increase the sales force’s ability to articulate the financial impact for clients by using a structured methodology that helps shift the mindset of the seller into the client’s perspective as a buyer.

Results

IBM’s return on investment studies validate that its learning strategy is working: New business opportunities are being generated and closed, and sellers are acquiring deeper financial selling skills. Along with qualitative findings, ROI results from a study in the second quarter of 2015 confirmed more than $163 million of revenue and pipeline generation from an investment of just $2.8 million, of which $74 million were new opportunities. 

Applications are open for the 2016 awards. Submissions are due by September 30.

About the Author

Kristen Fyfe-Mills is the associate director of communications for the Association for Talent Development (ATD). In her role she works with ATD staff to plan and execute strategic communications for the association's initiatives and is the primary point of contact for media. Kristen is the executive producer of ATD-TV, manages ATD's public policy efforts and the association's awards programs. Kristen is a published author, coach, and speaker with diverse experience in broadcast journalism, and corporate, and nonprofit communications.

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