Talking a common language at Telephonetics VIP

Netcall plc division, Telephonetics VIP is a communications company. Founded in 1993, it provides high quality contact centre solutions to major public and private sector organisations, with a strong emphasis on the healthcare and entertainment markets.

Like many similar businesses, their professional focus is on the provision of superior communications services. They recognised the opportunity to further enhance their services by providing a consistent face to market which also led to a more effective way of communicating internally.

“Our company had achieved successful growth over many years,” says sales director, Mark Holmes. “We saw a way to build on our achievements by adopting a more unified customer approach, one in which all parts of the organisation talked the same language and recognised that they each had a role to play in developing sales.”

 Working with Huthwaite International, a series of SPIN®-based programmes were developed to enhance the skills of the sales team and other departments across the organisation. “In less than a year, the company has already made significant progress”, believes Holmes. “Historically, ours had been a more engineeringled business. We now have a greater understanding across all departments and at all levels of the importance of sales and how every interaction can positively influence the customer’s buying decision.”

Skills development
In 2009, Telephonetics VIP acquired Datadialogs, enabling the Group to offer complete end-to-end solutions within the contact centre environment. For Holmes, bringing the two sales forces together brought into sharper focus an existing disparity in the range of skills, backgrounds and experience across the current sales team.

“We sell a wide variety of solutions”, he confirms, “involving both simple single-transaction sales and highly complex, highvalue negotiations which can take several years to conclude. To maximise our success rate in securing profitable deals at all levels we required better understanding of our customers, including their needs, challenges and who to engage within the buying organisation”.

“Using the buying cycle model, we were also able to gain the help and support of the marketing team and the rest of the business to understand the concepts and their role within it. This was essential if we were to communicate effectively internally and present a consistent, ‘one company’ image to our customers and prospects.” Holmes undertook a thorough investigation of what the market offered, in order to ensure that Telephonetics VIP put in place the most appropriate sales training methodology. In selecting Huthwaite International, his earlier positive experience of the SPIN® Selling model stood out as offering the right structured questioning approach essential in delivering the performance improvement required.

As a result, a phased bespoke training programme was developed for the sales team. This included core SPIN® training and more advanced negotiation and major account strategy skills for the company’s market managers and senior account managers.

For Huthwaite International account manager, Guy Aston, “the SPIN® approach was especially relevant as Telephonetics VIP sought to improve its success rate in typically complex public sector sales. SPIN® enables this by focusing on effective account planning, identifying the right people to engage and influence within the buying organisation and determining accurately how far each has progressed in their own buying cycle.”

The SPIN® methodology also formed the basis of a parallel course for the marketing team. This included a demonstration of what the sales team looked for within the customer organisation, the kinds of questioning techniques used and how marketing could support this highly targeted approach.

“We then took this framework to all parts of the business, from the CEO to the accounts department to the software development team,” recalls Holmes. “In each case, we explained the concept of the buying cycle and the value of working together in helping customers progress towards a positive purchasing decision.”

Continuing development
Reinforcing the initial training, there have been subsequent one-day refresher sessions for the sales team, together with monthly case analysis meetings using SPIN® as the basis for driving more effective account development.

Holmes is pleased with progress to-date. “Within what are typically extended sales cycles, our sales personnel are automatically adopting a more disciplined approach in identifying each individual’s needs and challenges, which helps in making a more realistic appraisal of where they are in the decision-making process”.

“At the same time, the rest of the business has a better understanding of why people buy and how they can play a part in influencing that decision,” he believes. “Our help desk provides a powerful example, in that it acts rather like a web page for the business. It is essential to control the content going out, as the customer’s reaction to that key interaction will colour how the broader business is perceived.”

Looking ahead, with the recent acquisition of Telephonetics VIP by Netcall plc, Holmes is currently reviewing the next stage of training, extending this proven approach to the newlyexpanded sales force.

 For Holmes, “the success of the training programmes has been based on an ideal combination of sound SPIN® methodology delivered by first class trainers”.

“In particular, the Huthwaite International training team has developed a strong rapport and fully engaged with both the sales staff and the rest of the business. This has been key to securing the necessary buy-in from across our business to achieve successful skills improvement.”