Back in 1996, Danish entrepreneur Kaare Danielsen and his team disrupted the print based recruitment market by launching an online advertising service. Their website, www.Jobindex.dk, had few competitors and the company enjoyed substantial growth. For the next two decades Danielsen continued to expand and is now the major recruitment network in Denmark having posted some 3 million job advertisements since its inception.
Why the need for skill development?
Over time, as other recruitment agencies entered the online space and began to take market share, Jobindex needed to shift focus more towards market positioning and maintaining its strong differentiation. People, processes and products all came under the spotlight.
Danielsen knew that in tough economic conditions those who continue to invest in their people often succeed over those who don’t. So at a time when everyone was cutting back Jobindex bucked the trend and promoted its Account Manager, Atemad El-Berjiji to Sales Manager with a sales team of 8. It was a decision that was to change everything. Atemad explains: “I am a self-made and very successful sales person, however when taking the position as Sales Manager back then I found it very difficult to pass on my knowledge and expertise to my team.”
Atemad attended a 3 day SPIN® Selling Skills training in London. These 3 days and the techniques she learned transformed both her and her sales team. She explains: “After my trip to London I was highly motivated to implement and integrate my learnings for my sales team and myself. I knew the few things I had to do differently and how I was going to practice this to achieve the necessary behaviour change going forward.”
The benefits of SPIN® for Jobindex
Since deploying the behaviours and techniques of the SPIN® methodology Jobindex have seen significant improvements in many areas of their business especially after promoting Atemad in 2011 to Sales Director with an organisation of 45 employees.
Tangible behaviour change
Atemad wasted no time in implementing the tools she had learned. “SPIN® was a game changer for me. I came to understand why I am successful and how I could improve on my existing selling and management skills. I found a few things I was missing both as a sales person and as a sales manager: I already used most of the SPIN® questioning behaviours but I was missing out some crucial listening behaviours and structure. The ICE-model changed my thinking to not only uncover, but also develop the customer’s needs. From this I achieve the deeper and richer conversations that our customers value so much.”
Every Jobindex customer is unique with individual challenges. And the team knows that in a fast paced industry such as recruitment they must meet those needs quickly and accurately. “We can differentiate ourselves by being consultative, proactive, faster and easier to work with, when our customers are searching for high quality candidates,” Atemad says.
“We are not just selling job ads – we need to be the skilled listeners that understand our customers better, and in more depth. Before we present a solution we tailor it to create the most value that we can for our customers.
“The SPIN® methodology helps our sales people to move away from the classic product sale towards the professional, well prepared, personal business conversations that make customers want to buy. Having the right conversations from the start makes a huge difference in the way we are being perceived in our market place.”
Atemad and her colleagues know that if a customer doesn’t feel the value, a conversation can quickly turn into a price negotiation. And, as she says, “Price is only an issue in the absence of value.”
Increased customer satisfaction
In 2015 when Jobindex asked their customers how well they thought their sales people understood their challenges and needs, 86% said ‘good’ or ‘excellent’.
When asked whether they thought their sales people had proposed the right solutions, 85% said ‘good’ or ‘excellent’.
Atemad says, “I really like the fact that SPIN® also impacts the image our sales people are giving customers. It’s become a true differentiator for us and we can see evidence of this in our data.”
Increase in sales
Following the adoption of the SPIN® methodology Jobindex have recorded 26-30% sustainable growth rates. Atemad sums up the benefits.
“SPIN® has a significant impact in all dimensions – higher sales, higher employee motivation, higher customer satisfaction – and we pass the 100% budget index much easier. It enables us to diagnose individual training needs. By using the T-forms we are able to coach and evaluate the quality of our listening skills and diagnose the depth of our conversations which makes life a lot easier for both the individual sales person, our sales managers, sales trainer and myself. It simply works!”
Measuring the return on investment
Jobindex measured the return on their SPIN® investment in a number of ways.
Measuring improvement in behaviours
At the offset each seller’s behaviour was benchmarked against the SPIN® best practice model to identify their strengths and areas for improvement. Using practise and feedback, seller progress was captured throughout the training to provide a clear record of how much they had improved.
Measuring improvement in live sales
■ The key behaviours used in each sales call are captured on an ongoing basis so that sellers can continually develop their skills
■ The improvement in self-confidence of sellers is continually recorded
■ The growth in Individual sales and commissions are recorded
■ So too is speed to 100% of target
Measuring customer satisfaction
Customer feedback is monitored.
Choosing the SPIN® methodology as the company’s common sales language Atemad says was a ‘no brainer’. She adds, “I built our whole sales model and processes around it. All our staff are SPIN® trained by Huthwaite’s Danish trainers. We have a proven and transparent best practice reference; a common sales language and a simple toolbox that help us succeed in our roles.”
Jobindex’s advise to others embarking on SPIN®
Top down support
Atemad believes that the extent to which SPIN® is successful is determined by the understanding, direction and support from the top of the organisation. She says: “It’s not easy at the start, you always get resistance to change and comfort zones are challenged for both sales managers and sales people. Buy-in and awareness of what SPIN® is needs to come from the top down. Understanding truly what SPIN® is and how to apply it is key to our success. Today, I am confident to help my sales managers and sales trainers, and they are confident to help and coach our sales people.”
She also knows first-hand that on-going support and coaching activity are vital in changing habits and keeping best practice alive. Jobindex see this as a shared responsibility. Coaching is driven by sales managers, trainers and peers. It becomes perpetual and self-fulfilling.
“SPIN® is our common reference for the quality of the interactions with our customers, it gives our sales managers and sales people the shared understanding of ‘how well we sell and communicate’, says Atemad. We celebrate and share challenges and successes. Peers listen in on sales conversations which create awareness of what the very best sales people at Jobindex do differently.
“My dream is that we will be renowned for having the best sales people in Denmark. We train and coach our people so they become subject matter experts within our industry and through Huthwaite we give them the ultimate sales education to match.”