With the COVID pandemic affecting businesses worldwide, a need to adapt quickly to changing circumstances became clear. Face-to-face business would be on-hold for the foreseeable future, people would need to be furloughed, ongoing projects would be disrupted, and priorities would change. Amid this disruption came uncertainty – how could businesses stay afloat with no guarantee of when the ‘new normal’ would return to the old one?
Last year, we were contacted by Ultrapolymers, a long-term client of ours, to design and deliver an entirely remote programme of training materials to equip their people with the skills to ensure their business could handle the new challenges.
As an international group, Ultrapolymers had people in offices across Europe. Our training would have to take on-board the particular needs of their people from both the UK and offices on the European mainland. We’d need to design materials that would translate well to people for whom English is not a first language. Further to this, Ultrapolymers asked that we focused on remote teambuilding within these separate offices to better prepare their people to engage in cross-border business and communications.
Given their business’s international scope, we also had to consider the multinational markets and cultures to deliver a truly universal programme.
During the programme, we would be delivering training to people from Ireland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Russia, Croatia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Czech Republic, Serbia, Bosnia, Hungary, Poland, Switzerland, Austria, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Belgium, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
In addition to teambuilding, Ultrapolymers sought training on prospecting and developing new business in the uncertain times we all faced. They wanted to ensure that their people could still talk to clients with confidence that Ultrapolymers was a valuable strategic partner who could add value, solve problems, and deliver no matter the additional priorities.
When it came to Key Accounts, Ultrapolymers needed to help their people engage with their clients, understand their changing circumstances, and position themselves as the right partner to renew those mutually beneficial partnerships which had been a core asset to the Ultrapolymers portfolio. We wanted to make sure that UP could continue to develop their existing relationships while cross-selling and up-selling the most relevant and useful products/services in their offering to their most valuable clients.
We also understood that with changing priorities, budget freezes, and similar obstacles, Ultrapolymers needed their people to become confident negotiators who could build value in UP products and services, differentiate themselves effectively from the competition and convey the exceptional levels of service, technical expertise and support on which Ultrapolymers has built its reputation. We endeavoured to ensure that UP could sell its value and defend its margins.
Beginning in May 2020, RLA delivered a series of bite-sized half-day modules using the Zoom platform, focusing on making the programme as interactive and engaging as possible. By limiting the number of delegates to ten per session, we felt better able to provide a strong training programme for the group and address individual needs and concerns despite the restraints of remote-based coaching.
Using a combination of group work in breakout rooms, polls/quizzes, and the more traditional slideshow presentation, we felt we could replicate the classroom experience, and in some cases, even exceed it.
Over a period of three months, we delivered sessions on Business Development and Prospecting, The Psychology of Sales, Objection Handling and Pre-Handling, and Customer Segmentation to over 150 delegates. Realising that technical difficulties, family life, and other unavoidable factors may disrupt the learning process, we also delivered several ‘mop-up’ sessions later in the year so that no individual need be left behind through missing a session.
Additionally, we provided support materials to the delegates, offered pre-work for the delegates to complete before each session, and came up with a post-training enforcement programme to ensure that the training stuck.
We were delighted to hear back from Ultrapolymers at the beginning of 2021 that UP has secured 151 new accounts despite the difficulties of business in the new normal, with profits in excess of €350,000 in the months since the programme’s completion. Additionally, Ultrapolymers predicts this figure will continue to rise through repeat sales up to €600,000 in the next quarter.
We look forward to continuing our strong working relationship with Ultrapolymers in the future and are honoured and privileged to have played a part in their continued success.
“When Covid hit we quickly moved, like most people, to a Teams call every morning trying to motivate our salesforce to still make virtual face-to-face visits with our clients. However, like most organisations, this quickly turned into ‘death by Teams meetings’. That’s when we turned to Robin. Robin was able to guide us in splitting our 100+ Europe-wide team-members into smaller manageable chunks as well as splitting the programme into 4 two-hour modules. We have found that not only has the programme increased the proactivity across Europe, it has also allowed the teams to work better in collaboration. Sharing successful projects and best practice around the whole team.”
Stuart McCaig, European Sales Ambassdor for Ultrapolymers