The Marketing Strategist:
SITA’s Award-Winning Sales Transformation Program
As marketing leaders pull together submissions for ITSMA’s 2016 Marketing Excellence Awards – due by June 10 – we’re looking back at some of last year’s award-winning programs.
SITA’s ambitious STARS program demonstrates an innovative and impressive approach to driving with a transformation of the sales approach and the way that marketing supports sales. The marketing-driven program included a comprehensive investment in sales training, sales tools, and coaching that has generated sales endorsement, financial returns, and the praise of executive management in this air transport communications and IT company.
In 2013 SITA leadership realized that company’s ambitious three-year business plan and 2020 vision called for a significant step up in sales capability to drive growth. Although the company had been achieving sales objectives and retaining most of its contracts, they were facing a challenge winning the level of new business required. In addition, while customer relationships were solid in terms of NPS & brand scores, they were not all at CXO level, which constrained the company’s ability to position its most valuable offering and solution capabilities.
Meanwhile, with a continual progression in passenger numbers and air transport becoming a profitable industry, competition was becoming increasingly aggressive.
To drive the growth required, Marketing & Sales Operations led the development of a strategic sales transformation plan to improve SITA’s commercial effectiveness, requiring $20M+ of funding over three years.
The plan, approved at CEO level, was to:
- Help the sales and extended sales organization up-skill in an increasingly competitive market and growing portfolio of SITA solutions
- Increase sales effectiveness through integration of a large number of stakeholders and SMEs at all levels of the program
- Build sales confidence, increase portfolio learning, improve coverage model—in turn accelerating SITA’s growth
The program’s target audience represented about 10% of SITA’s total workforce—450 staff—dispersed across the 170 countries. To ensure buy-in, support the change management effort, and provide clarity, a structured program with clear brand identity and engagement was rolled out over 24 months under the umbrella name STARS.
- Aggressive hiring plan: sales workforce to be increased by 23%
- Trained 487 people in 7 newly-created training modules and online sales guides with 65% certified YTD
- 93% of the field engaged in a first ever worldwide Gamification to encourage proactive acquisition of portfolio knowledge
- Two editions of President’s Club run in Bahamas and Mauritius with SITA’s CEO to help drive right behaviors from top sales performers
- Deployment of Salesforce.com as a new sales platform with 1,600 users, with user adoption and satisfaction above industry benchmarks
The program overachieved on all indicators in 2014 and included substantial impact on key performance metrics in 2015.
Contracts worth US$220M have been closed as a direct influence of this program, significant pipeline progression in nearly all deal categories from Q1 2014–Q1 2015 and a win rate increase of +8%, showing an improved capacity to win business.
Above all these tangible results, the most striking change is the overall shift in sales culture and behavior with a clear, positive uptake in all Geographies. One year into the program, 100% of the program stakeholders agreed it was necessary to change and 87% believed STARS was driving that change.
Learn more about the categories and guidelines for ITSMA’s 2016 Marketing Excellence Awards.