Outotec provides leading technologies and services for the sustainable use of Earth’s natural resources. As the global leader in minerals and metals processing technology, Outotec has developed many breakthrough technologies over the decades. Employing over 4,200 people in 34 countries, the company also provides innovative solutions for industrial water treatment, the utilization of alternative energy sources and the chemical industry.
In 2015–2016, Outotec evaluated their sales organization and found a clear need to update and develop their sales capabilities and processes. Talent Vectia tailored a six-month training program called License to Lead Sales for the company. The program focused on value selling, i.e. quantifying and selling the customer business value instead of products; more efficient management of the sales funnel; and sales team leadership skills.
Listening to the Customer
“Outotec has traditionally been an organization of technical experts, so we needed to develop our capability to sell value to our customers, instead of just technical solutions,” says Gustav Kildén, SVP, Strategic Customers & Business Development, Outotec. “Talent Vectia was an easy choice of partner when the time came to design and roll out a sales training program for our global organization.”
Outotec’s License to Lead Sales training program was first implemented for approximately 80 key people in the company’s sales organization. The topics included value selling, sales management discipline – including efficient use of CRM – and general skills in managing the sales process. In the next phase of the program, the training will be extended to all 300 of Outotec’s sales managers. “It’s essentially about changing our sales pitch so that instead of just talking about technology, we are finding ways to commercialize it as value for the customer,” Kildén says.
The live three-day workshop of the programme included the participation of Michael Ahearne, Professor of Marketing and C.T. Bauer Chair in Marketing at the University of Houston. A bestselling author and researcher on sales and marketing, Prof. Ahearne is one of the world’s foremost experts on how to improve the performance of salespeople and sales organizations.
“With this program, the point was to consistently train our entire sales force,” says Ville Salomaa, Director, Sales Development and Strategy, Outotec. “We are looking at this as a long-term continuous effort, not just a one-off series of workshops. The investment has definitely been worth it.”
A key part of the training program was the use of LOGE, an online platform that is designed as a cost-effective way to enable organization-wide dialogue, share best practices and set concrete actions on an individual level. Incorporating gaming-style elements and focusing on collaborative learning, LOGE shifts the focus from one-way communication and self-study to practice by doing and concrete actions.
“LOGE has been a very useful tool in opening up some great discussions,” Salomaa says. “It really strengthens the implementation of what we are trying to accomplish. LOGE is also very flexible in that it allows people to schedule the sessions at whatever time is most convenient for them and their teams.”
Typically, LOGE sessions are conducted between 3 to 8 participants, who can be from anywhere in the organization. The sessions involve discussing and finding solutions to various scenarios, and committing to the joint decisions as a team. To facilitate open discussion, team members provide their first answers to the topics anonymously.
“LOGE has been an excellent way to bring people into the conversation who might otherwise tend to remain silent at live meetings,” Ville Salomaa says. “Each session concludes with some very concrete actions to which the participants commit, and system tracks the completion of these actions at the next session. It’s great for finding personal actions that support the goals to which everyone has committed as an organization.”
The training program has already brought about a marked change in how Outotec handles sales. “The focus has shifted in the right direction,” Gustav Kildén says. “We are now having much more dialogue where we try to really listen to what the customer needs, and turn these into win-win situations that benefit both parties. Our internal sales meetings have also changed, and people are talking about sales in a completely different way.”