Microsoft Announces New Worldwide Sales Training Program

SAN FRANCISCO, July 23, 1999 — This time next year, Microsoft Corp. sales teams and Microsoft® Certified Solution Providers (MCSPs) around the world will be speaking a common language: that of Franklin Covey’s “Helping Clients Succeed” TM workshop. This client-focused approach to effective sales training, developed by Franklin Covey, a leadership, effectiveness and time and life management firm, forms the basis for a new framework developed by Microsoft. Microsoft will offer the training through Franklin Covey to its 21,000 MCSP channel partners in addition to its worldwide sales force. The program was announced at Fusion 99, Microsoft’s annual worldwide business symposium for MCSPs.

Titled “Helping Clients Succeed: Business Development Strategies and Skills,” the sales training program was developed with Mahan Khalsa, vice president of the Sales Performance Group at Franklin Covey,. The innovative framework is based on the idea of “consultative selling,” which focuses on the development of client solutions rather than the sale of products. Franklin Covey (NYSE: FC) ( ), which trains approximately 750,000 people annually, offers complete solutions to help individuals and organizations use proven principles to achieve personal and organizational leadership effectiveness, trust, change management, strategic alignment, productivity and customer solutions. Its clients include 80 of the Fortune 100 and more than three-quarters of the Fortune 500.

“‘Helping Clients Succeed’ isn’t just a euphemism for ‘sales.’ It is a way for companies to think about how they can continually impact their client’s ability to succeed,” Khalsa said. “This program helps anyone involved in sales at any level of an organization to focus not on selling more or different product licenses but to identify what solution best addresses a client’s needs.” Khalsa noted that Franklin Covey’s development of the program for Microsoft involved nearly a year’s worth of research, development and real-world testing. “Microsoft put a great deal of energy and enthusiasm into this process. Their willingness to extend this program to their MCSPs says a great deal about how they value that relationship.”

The training program, which officially begins in August, is just the first phase of Microsoft’s overall plan for providing sales and marketing tools to its channel, according to Nigel Burton, director of Small and Medium Enterprise Channels at Microsoft. “Like anything and everything we do for our channel partners, this new sales training framework is focused on providing solid tools for success,” he said, adding that future components of the sales training could address such areas as account planning, competencies and better integration with product sales training. “This phase of the training program is tied closely to customer satisfaction, which is a goal for every company in our channel. By sharing this program with our MCSPs, we feel we’re sharing a valuable tool that ultimately affects much more than sales.”

Microsoft’s evaluation of the sales training approach for MCSPs began at last year’s Fusion symposium, when Khalsa’s presentation on the training approach inspired Microsoft to examine its own sales training efforts. An internal study by Microsoft on such sales-related skills as listening, solutions and communication led to continued work with Franklin Covey and Microsoft’s decision to offer the program to its MCSPs.

Training Stresses Solutions Over Sales

The training framework covers three areas: People, Products and Processes. The People component addresses sales competencies pertinent to the various sales roles. The Product component will show sales teams how to reverse the standard approach of identifying specific features and benefits of a product and help them learn instead how to identify a client’s needs and build a business case for the issue, only then identifying a product or solution that exactly meets that need. Processes covers consultative selling and account management and planning. The consultative selling training delivers critical-thinking and communication skills. The three-day training courses will be led by Franklin Covey instructors.

Although the program developed for Microsoft is customized, Khalsa has worked with a number of other companies to develop similar consultative sales training programs. According to Sandy Bates, vice president of Sales and Marketing at Integrated Information Systems (IIS) SA, an MCSP firm in Tempe, Ariz., the program has significantly affected her company. “There is no question that it fundamentally changed the way we think of sales and service,” said Bates, whose firm provides Web development and network integration services. “The Khalsa approach taught us to work much more closely with clients to ensure that the solution would truly solve their problems and help them achieve their long-term goals.” Bates added that the new approach has done much to help IIS achieve its own aggressive revenue goals, noting that during the last year, the company has increased its revenue growth rate from 100 percent to 200 percent per year. “Given this growth rate, a consistent execution of sales process, as well as technical delivery, is key. The consultative selling approach has provided the necessary foundation for both.”

Web Site Imitates Sales Role-Play and Interactivity

The three-day course includes course materials, audio tapes, and a new book written by Khalsa and published by Franklin Covey, “Let’s Get Real (Or Let’s Not Play): The Demise of 20th Century Selling and the Advent of Helping Clients Succeed.” In addition to the book, which was printed for the Fusion audience in advance of its release to the general public, those taking the course have access to a Web site designed to imitate the interactivity and role-playing components of the course.

MCSPs are able to register for the courses on-site at Fusion using an online registration tool. After Fusion, MCSPs will receive updated information on training sites and dates through a number of Microsoft Web updates and can continue to register with the online registration tool.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.

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