Most sales teams cringe when they hear about training because they automatically think about the time it will take them away from doing their job, generating revenue, and results for the business. However if companies are going to survive their competition they need to make sure their sales professionals are smarter and can effectively communicate the value proposition of their products and convert opportunities as quickly as possible. shutterstock_256134292

There isn’t a company out there, big or small, that does not face the pressures and complexity of the market.  With start-ups backed by Silicon Valley investors and the revolution of SaaS-based solutions, SAP was faced with serious decisions about their strategy. SAP, a German multinational software corporation that develops enterprise software to manage business operations and customer relations, has revenues of more than $1 billion and 75,000 employees. The company was in great danger as emerging SaaS-based providers were entering the market and offering flexible solutions and pricing.

As a result, about five years ago SAP’s executive board demanded a drastic change in how the sales organization offered their solutions and engaged their customers. I was excited to interview SAP’s team recently on HCMx Radio about the program (Download Executive Interview).  I also enjoyed gaining in-depth insights about the program when Rainer Stern, the Global Vice President for Sales Acceleration, attended our Excellence Conference in January.

The Challenger Model instilled in their sales team the following:

  • Teach the customer something new that he/she doesn’t know.
  • Tailor the message to the customer in his/her particular industry.
  • Use constructive tension – do something that may be uncomfortable — to challenge the customer.
  • Take control of the sales cycle.

The sales training and performance program offered many unique and innovative approaches to SAP’s sales leadership and product team. The new model presented refreshing and sustainable ways to help account executives meet (and exceed) customer needs, create new opportunities, and close deals. SAP completely transformed the way it supported and developed sales executives and managers by providing coaching that was relevant, solved problems and drove business results.

SAP’s team received a Brandon Hall Group Gold Excellence Award for Best Program for Sales Training and Performance in 2015 (Download Case Study). The initiative was led by Stern, a 21-year veteran sales leader at SAP, and supported and developed by Ralf Wagner, Chief Program Manager at SAP, and Stefan Funk, Head of Promotional Excellence for GCO University Programs at SAP.

To listen to our interview, you can download the podcast anytime at the HCMx Radio site.

                           –Rachel Cooke, Chief Operating Officer, Brandon Hall Group


Rachel Cooke

Chief Operating Officer Rachel Cooke Rachel is responsible for business operations including overseeing client services, research events and project management. Prior to joining Brandon Hall Group, Rachel was the Chief Operating Officer Co-founder of AC Growth. Rachel has over 15 years of experience in sales, marketing, business development, and sales performance management. Prior to AC Growth, she held several senior management roles and was on the leadership team at Bersin & Associates, a pioneer analyst firm in e-learning and now industry leading HR and talent Research Company. In her Senior Director role, Rachel developed the strategy and led the commercial execution of the solution provider vertical, and grew the vertical into the company’s largest market segment. In her role as Director of Sales, Rachel developed and led a team of senior account executives focused on acquiring global strategic accounts. Rachel was solely responsible for developing key business relationships with over ninety companies including industry icons, such as: Adidas, Hewlett-Packard, Toyota, Oracle, Starbucks, Avnet, Boeing, Kaiser Permanente, Safeway Inc., Wells Fargo, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Clorox and Affiliated Computer Services. Rachel began her career in the banking, media and hospitality industries. In these industries, Rachel held several key senior management and executive sales positions. Rachel received a BA in social science and interdisciplinary studies with honors from Florida Atlantic University. Rachel continued her postgraduate education by completing a series of executive management education courses from American Management Association.