Followers of this blog are familiar with the high value I place on planning, competitive selling strategies, and political leverage for winning complex sales situations as well as for effectively managing strategic accounts. I was first introduced to Holden many years ago by Steve Slaughter, a salesrep who worked for me who had been through Holden's PowerBase Selling. I subsequently brought Jim Holden and his team into that company and others as well. Although Holden wasn't right for every company at that time, they certainly were for us. Stellar implementations of the Holden methodology at several companies with whom I was engaged enabled us to grab and sustain leadership positions.
Like most sales training companies, Holden International has been through some significant challenges during the past decade. Recently, I spent some time with the executive management team as part of our research for ESR's upcoming 2009 Sales Training Vendor Guide and was encouraged by what I heard.
Holden's President, Ryan Kubacki, has been at the helm for just over two years. His background in sales and marketing at AT Kearney (acquired by EDS), Calypso Systems and Microsoft provides him with a solid foundation for the tough challenges ahead. At this point, he certainly seems up to the task.
Ryan made a point that Holden is solidifying what has been working all these years, while at the same time layering innovative delivery approaches as they continue to strive for sustainable user adoption.
ESR has always viewed Holden as a methodology-centric provider. What's new is that Holden is now looking at their place within a company's total sales approach a bit differently. In some cases, for example, they are positioning themselves as a solution to be layered "on top of solution selling, for example." We've not yet spoken with any customers using that hybrid approach, but we intend to.
Matt Martin, VP of Consulting Services, has invested considerable time in both their selling to large accounts as well as transactional territory transactional management offerings. Holden needed development in those areas to provide a more comprehensive solution.
One of the complaints ESR has regularly voices in our research about sales training companies is that some of the mainstream companies just plain skip the tactical proficiency component of a total sales approach. They're much more about the "what" to do, with little attention to "how" to do it. We've seen blank sections of RFP responses where vendors had no solution for some percentage of a sales team that needed help with basic selling skills. Holden is determined to meet those requirements. That's a plus.
Now Holden offers content in new account penetration and sustaining the executive relationship. We also learned they now offer a PowerBase business development course, personal productivity workshops and a program in selling through channels. (Not to take away from Holden, but ESR knows that effective channel management requires more than a program or two and a few dedicated people...)
Holden understands how important coaching is to sustainable sales performance improvement. They are revamping their sales manager coaching curriculum, and it is "taking off." Many years ago I was certified to deliver Holden's Sales Management program. The coaching piece was solid back then.
Holden has invested in their eFox tool (powered by White Springs). It is being componentized and full-blown account management support is forthcoming. That's progress as well.
This all may sound terrific to you, if you're searching out a sales performance improvement provider. I can only warn you that selecting Holden or any other company based upon this or any other one-page write up is precisely the wrong thing to do. If you are presently, or will be evaluating sales training companies, consider investing in ESR's upcoming Sales Training Vendor Guide, where we really compare and contrast Holden against 25 other leading providers.
Disclosure: Holden International subscribes to ESR's research.
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