Over the past 3 years, ISM corporate partner Geberit, a Swiss multinational manufacturer of sanitary products, has invigorated its sales training approach so that today it meets the requirements of ISM qualifications and of the national training standards of which they form a part.

The architect of the company’s UK sales training is Matthew Hotten (pictured), Geberit’s people and organisational development manager, UK and Ireland – and now BESMA’s Corporate Sales L&D Professional of the Year.

When Hotten joined in October 2015, the company was still a relatively small business in the UK, but it was on the cusp of major expansion following the acquisition of Sanitec, owner of the Twyford ceramic sanitary products brand in the UK. Until that point, the company had had a salesforce of around 50 and, in common with many SMEs, it had no formal sales training programme. “Historically, we had been doing some rather patchy, sporadic sales training,” he explains. “As a result, our salespeople were working to various different standards and all doing the job in a slightly different way. Some were doing it really well, and some not so well.

Hotten was faced with a rapidly expanding salesforce and a brief to sell a wider range of products in a greatly enlarged marketplace. This made him keen to instill a “Geberit Way” – an effective, reputable and repeatable way in which all the company’s salespeople would sell to customers. To this end, he introduced a six-step sales process.

It wasn’t revolutionary by any stretch of the imagination, but it was good solid sales best practice,” he

says. “I wanted it to be an established requirement, and that is what it has now become.” He continues, “I was very keen for this process to be benchmarked properly, so I asked the ISM to look at our sales training methods and materials and, if they met the required standard, to endorse the programme.” The ISM not only endorsed it, but made the company an ISM-approved centre, accrediting it to deliver ISM qualifications on an ongoing basis to suitably trained staff. “Today, every new and existing salesperson within the business has been through the Geberit Way sales programme,” says Hotten. “There’s a lot for new recruits to get their head around, but we don’t believe in just giving people a car and a CRM system and throwing them out into their territory. That’s an outdated sink or swim approach and we want them to have the very best possible start.

He concludes, “These guys will have letters after their name. It means a great deal to them to achieve a very worthwhile qualification. With that comes real kudos and considerable benefit to them as professionals pursuing a sales career.