Business leaders face many challenges in today’s global economy, but can they break through by focusing on customer relations? We talk to Jerry Acuff, CEO and founder of Delta Point, Inc. about the company’s distinctive approach to transforming sales.

In today’s environment, business leaders face increased global competition, rapid technological change and marketplace volatility.

While decisions made at the executive level are crucial to dealing with change, the deciding factor in improving bottom line results is often determined by what happens when the salesperson is in front of the customer.

That’s why we’re talking to Jerry Acuff, CEO and founder of Delta Point, Inc. about their unique solution to business risks. Delta Point, Inc. is an award-winning consulting company that focuses on how to excel in selling, sales messaging, training and execution excellence.

What’s Delta Point’s solution to the challenges businesses face in today’s environment?

Delta Point is a different type of consulting company due to our unique focus and people.

Our consultants and executives have an average of over 20 years of experience in sales, sales leadership, marketing, and learning and development. Their dedication and skills have contributed to the success of over 100 brands, including eight of the top 12 biopharmaceutical brands worldwide.

We’ve cracked the code on how to overcome the challenges that companies typically face, such as declining sales, launching new products or battling aggressive competition.

We focus on the entire process—from diagnosing the specific issues to ensuring the solutions are ingrained. To summarise, we:

  • Conduct a thorough discovery process to diagnose the client’s unique situation
  • Develop a practical solution—not only what to do but how to do it
  • Partner with clients to provide the requisite training, implementation and execution, with frequent designated touch-points and milestones built into our plan
  • Don’t leave until the change is embedded

Our expertise in change management, combined with our emphasis on lifelong learning, enables us to implement cutting-edge ideas with a practical application. For example, although the concepts remain the same, we tailor our training to accommodate the packed schedules, short attention spans and learning preferences of our customers.

To implement change—and make the change stick—individuals need to be continually exposed to fundamental concepts.

Change needs to be adopted gradually, taking small steps that build upon each other. That’s why one-time training events often fail to produce desired results. Training is an experience requiring continual reinforcement, not only to gain an understanding of new ideas but how to apply these concepts in real-world settings.

Part of our success in changing the trajectory of sales is due to the emphasis we place on training sales managers – how to coach and train selling skills when they are in the field working with their salespeople.  In fact, we provide more training to the managers than we do to the salespeople, which is the opposite of how most sales training is designed.

Why do you emphasise the first line sales managers?

Research shows us that the cornerstone of improving sales results is the first line sales manager. They are the primary driver in developing the selling skills of their employees.

Studies confirm that most sales managers receive little or no training on how to do this. While they may be great at selling, sales managers are often ill-equipped and ill-prepared to manage or coach others as to how to excel at selling.

Training sales managers pays huge results:

  • Coaching that reinforces sales training increases retention by 63%
  • Training combined with coaching increases productivity 88%, versus 23% with training alone
  • The ROI of selling skills training quadruples (22% to 88%) when followed by in-field coaching

Both sales professionals and sales managers recognise that if managers were better trained, sales would increase rather significantly.

It’s not surprising that fewer than one in five salespeople turn to their managers when seeking help for how to improve sales.

Sales managers seem to recognise their limitations too. Nearly 60% of sales managers predicted that if they were able to improve their coaching skills, sales would increase by 20% or more.

How does virtual training make a difference?

At Delta Point, we’ve redefined what great training looks like. Although we continue to emphasise content, delivery and follow-up, our new focus adds repeatability, practice and accountability.

We understand that our customers want to learn critical ideas in five minutes, not 50. That’s why 95% of our virtual training lessons are less than five minutes.

Virtual training also means that the lessons are available 24/7 when they are most useful for the individual learner. Our virtual training offerings can be used as standalone training or as supplements to our customised workshops.

The benefits of eLearning and virtual training are widely touted. Dow Chemical cut their spending per learner from $84 to $11, a reduction of nearly 87 percent.

Not only is virtual training more cost-effective, but it also reduces the time spent in training. A study provided by Brandon-Hall group estimates that the same level of learning requires 40-60% less time for virtual training than in traditional classroom settings.  Forbes estimates retention is 25-60% higher with eLearning than regular classroom learning.

Our virtual training targets those skills critical to success:

  • Selling Excellence by Thinking Like a Customer
  • Coaching Selling Excellence
  • Building Business Relationships: The Relationship Edge®
  • Goal Setting: How to Become Incredible

Because accountability is a critical factor in implementing change, the assessment questions in our virtual training are designed to gauge learning and provide reinforcement of essential concepts effectively.

In fact, our sales training incorporates role-playing and mirroring real-world situations, accompanied by detailed explanations of each response, so users understand what works best and why.

We acknowledge the stark reality that accounts/customers are harder to access, new products are often perceived as being similar to others, and customers are better informed about products and the competition than ever before. That’s why what the salesperson says, how they say it, and the relationship they develop with the customer matters.

What are your plans for the future?

At Delta Point, we proactively seek to identify unmet needs through periodic surveys, leading to the development of new product offerings. Some examples of these are:

  • ReallyLinked®—a tool to manage your top connections; streamlining and tracking calls, texts, emails, and meeting requests
  • Relationship Edge® in Business Assessment—assessment of competencies and behaviours for the three-step business relationship building process
  • ReadItForMe—12-minute book summaries focusing on leadership, sales, marketing, personal development, innovation and creativity, entrepreneurship and human capital

One aspect of our work that doesn’t change is our core tenets and values. Throughout the years, our mission has been constant.

That mission is to do our best for our clients – because we only succeed when they do.