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The company operates throughout North America, Europe, Asia Pacific and Latin America, and provides software solutions to businesses globally. Over a period of several years the company’s sales organization was focused on improving its win rate against certain tier one competitors. In analyzing win rate data, the company identified opportunities for upgrading competencies within a large segment of its sales organization, including the ability to successfully anticipate, identify and neutralize the aggressive tactics used by these key competitors to win deals.
To improve its win rate percentage, the company determined it needed to strengthen the skills and capabilities of its sales force that would enable it to successfully overcome these competitive maneuvers. To drive more consistent competitive behaviors throughout its global sales force and increase its win rate, the company decided to leverage a pioneering learning tool—performance simulation.
Developed and patented by Accenture Learning—a business unit of Accenture—performance simulation is similar in concept to a flight simulator, immersing learners in realistic, decision-making environments where they learn by doing. In contrast to learning approaches that focus on building knowledge, performance simulation builds knowledge and then places the learner in simulated environments where they use that knowledge to analyze and respond to business situations. Performance simulation is driven by a powerful feedback and remediation engine that analyzes the decisions and actions of the learner, and then provides individualized coaching that specifically addresses the needs of the learner.
Prior to developing the simulation, extensive interviews were conducted with the company’s top sales performers to identify the tactics consistently used by key competitors to disrupt the company’s sales processes, and define the behaviors and responses that most effectively neutralize these tactics. Accenture Learning then developed the performance simulation that immerses the company’s account executives in three compelling sales situations where they learn to anticipate and identify these competitive challenges, and apply proper judgment and best practice selling techniques to win the deal.
In each of the simulated environments the learner is placed at a certain point in the sales cycle and experiences specific competitive tactics:
In addition to the simulated conversations, the account executives walk through a complete six-month sales cycle in a multinational competitive opportunity. At each step of the selling process, the account executive experiences and addresses a unique set of competitor challenges. Meters based on probability of sale and competitive threat measure the likelihood of success based on the actions and responses the account executives choose.
During each simulated interaction, the account executive engages in a conversation with the customer, and has a choice of responses that lead down thousands of potential paths in the conversation. The virtual coach provides real-time individualized feedback, critiquing the account manager’s response and if necessary directing them to an approach that will lead to a more successful outcome. The simulation includes 72 expert stories—recorded sessions in which experienced colleagues share how they dealt with similar competitive challenges. By analyzing the decisions of the learner, the virtual coach presents the right choice and mix of expert stories that specifically address the needs of the learner. The virtual coach also directs the learner to reference material they need at that specific point in the simulation. After the remediation is complete, the account manager re-enters the simulated call at the point of the coach’s intervention to demonstrate what they have learned.
The performance simulation provides leverage for the software company to build and strengthen the competitive skills in its sales force that will drive high performance sales growth and strengthen its leading position in the market.
The performance simulation has been a ground-breaking project for the company. It is leveraging state-of-the-art, patented simulation technology and a pioneering learning approach to target a business-critical performance gap within their sales force. Additionally, through this effort, the company has implemented a learning solution that enables them to measure results—link the learning to business outcomes.
The performance simulation is currently being released to the global sales force in a series of regional pilots. The company has conservatively estimated that win rate improvement over the course of six months should be at least 2-5 percent, resulting in several million dollars of additional sales revenue in that six-month period.
“We identified a specific requirement within our sales organization, and knew that performance simulation was the best approach to quickly and effectively instill the competitive skills that will drive our sales growth. We chose Accenture Learning because of its expertise and proven abilities in delivering innovative learning solutions, and because we knew they would team with us to develop a solution that best addressed our business needs.”—Senior Vice President
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