Lucent Technologies, now Alcatel-Lucent, is a global telecommunications equipment and services provider with sales operations in more than 130 countries and revenues exceeding $20 billion. Up until just three years ago, the company was in the position of having significant expertise that it potentially could offer its customers to help them adjust to changing market forces, but it did not have a methodology or training capabilities appropriate for selling these services. Lucent was known only as a product vendor, but that was about to change.
Lucent’s product sales teams were highly effective working with their customers’ technical managers who made purchasing decisions based on technology features. But every day, the services sales force faced business managers who were more interested in the impact of Lucent’s products on their bottom line.
To persuade C-level decision-makers to purchase Lucent services, the sales force had to shed its product-centric habits in favor of a value-based, customer-centric approach targeted at the executive-level buyer.
The challenge was complicated by the fact that account teams were used to bundling services with their products and never had needed to identify or understand the inherent value of the services.
Lucent engaged Pretium Partners of Columbus, Ohio, to guide it in making the transition from product-focused to value-based, customer-oriented solution selling. To achieve this critical goal, Lucent and Pretium would have to:
Training Plays a Central Role
To better understand existing processes, Lucent executives and members of the services marketing and sales organizations were surveyed about Lucent’s solutions in particular and the telecommunications industry in general. The knowledge gained during these interviews was used to develop a customized training program for Lucent, based on its Value Assessment Methodology.
The centerpiece was a 2.5-day course titled, “Selling the Business Impact of Services.” The program included pre-program assignments and post-training reinforcement. It leveraged Lucent’s sales process, as well as Lucent-specific examples, case studies and illustrations, to teach the services sales force:
Lucent’s marketing team was heavily invested in the success of the new sales approach. The team worked with Pretium to develop a corollary to the sales-training program, “Marketing the Business Impact of Services.” Unlike a marketing course in the classic sense, it mirrored the sales-training program to create the essential alignment of sales and marketing around the goal of sales success.
During the program, marketing managers learned how to integrate value-driven messaging into their marketing materials and how to develop sales tools designed specifically for the value assessment methodology used by sales.
Results: Gaps Close and Sales Improve
Quantitative and qualitative results have been achieved in large part because of these programs. Sales teams elevated their discussions higher in the customer organization earlier in the sales process, customers were now making value-based buying decisions on solutions designed to address business issues and the sales teams learned how to collaborate with the customer to develop a business case.
Key indicators of business improvement two years into this initiative include:
In this situation, significant and quantifiable benefits were received by Lucent Technologies. It wasn’t by chance, nor was it a result of only the training. Lucent underwent a transformation of its approach with sales training as a critical component.