The word 3M conjures images of Scotch® products with its green and white stripes, or for others, yellow Post-it® note pads. But 3M is much more than that. This global company has produced tens of thousands of imaginative products used in many markets – from healthcare and highway safety to office products and abrasives and adhesives.
Started in 1966, the 3M Singapore operations comprise a Sales and Marketing office, the APAC manufacturing and supply chain hub, the 3M Woodlands Plant, the 3M Tuas Plant and the 3M Research & Development Centre. With a staff strength of 1,700 employees, the company prides itself on innovation, quality and corporate responsibility in the tradition of the parent company. In addition, development of the staff through training and professional upgrades is part and parcel of the company ethos.
A Sales Initiative Launched in Singapore
Last year, a worldwide 3M Sales Competency Model was launched to train the sales team. Mr Arthur Fong, Managing Director of 3M Singapore explained, “We felt that with the business climate becoming more competitive, we wanted to enhance the selling and negotiation skills of the sales team. Since 3M’s worldwide sales initiative was on developing the sales team, we searched for a program to provide the skills training. We found a match in the Negotiation Skills Program offered by Capelle Academy.” This was the first time the company has participated in WSQ programs.
The training program was conducted over three sessions between May & June for sales managers and key account managers. This was followed by a briefing to management in July. Fifty two sales staff attended the training at the Woodlands Office. Trainer William Tan covered topics like negotiation skills, strategies of negotiation, assertiveness in handling negotiations, negotiating on a ‘win win’ situation and planning prior to negotiation.
Benefits of the Sales Negotiation Skills, One Sales Manager's Experience
A key account manager in the consumer business group, Ms Yip Lai Mei, 34 is a sales professional with more than six years experience with 3M handling the powerbrands as Command™ and Scotch-Brite®. Lai Mei is used to the high energy business of selling, yet she was glad to have attended the two day program. “The Negotiation Workshops not only hones our negotiation skills with key customers and retailers but also enables us to negotiate better with our internal stakeholders, the support groups, marketers and supervisors, and helped us with timelines and targets. Many of us are aware of these negotiation techniques but however upon attending the course, it enabled us to be more structured in terms of negotiation techniques, that if one approach does not work, to change to another. It also highlighted the need to plan and have an agenda in negotiation.”
Lai Mei meets buyers of differing characteristics, and while she negotiates to win, the program reminded her not to be perceived as hostile by her customer neither to compromise too much. Says Lai Mei, “The negotiation strategy taught me to cater to the different personalities and nature of people; it enabled me to tweak the proposals to the different stakeholders.”
She felt that the training went well as the case studies and different real life examples allowed her to practise negotiation skills. It was fun as the sales professionals got to know each other better and apply the skills together as they often have to present as a team and not on their own.
Lai Mei put the training to immediate use. In negotiating with a key retail account, she chose to see her client needs and adjusted her proposal to meet her requirement. By doing so, she was able to conclude the deal in a win win manner. She was coy in revealing figures, but confident to say that the value of the business grew to a double digit growth for this year.
Ongoing Sales Training
The Singapore office is the first in South East Asia to effect a training intervention under the worldwide sales competency model.
Based on a needs analysis conducted in 2012, the sales team highlighted the need for sales training to increase their sales competencies. The timeliness of the local needs dovetailed with the worldwide sales excellency initiative.
Now that the momentum has begun, Alex Tan, Talent Development Manager, HR, plans to facilitate another needs analysis for the next two months, and implement coaching of sales managers and sales professionals by their supervisors in the last quarter.
With such disciplined effort, it won’t be a surprise that 3M Singapore will finish the year well ahead of their business targets.
Following the Negotiations Skills Program, Capelle’s Coach Practice Leader, Dr Lee Tsao Yuan was also invited to conduct a 2-hour talk on Coaching for Leaders as part of 3M’s Annual Leadership Development Program – Leadership in Change. Business Leaders from other organizations shared their insights on the changing business landscape. This session was attended by the 3M Singapore’s Senior Management team.
Capelle Academy is an accredited training provider with SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG).
Capelle offers programs under the following WSQ frameworks:
- Leadership & People Management (LPM)
- Business Management (BM)
- Executive Development and Growth for Excellence (EDGE)
- Service Excellence (SVCF)
CAPELLE ACADEMY IS REGISTERED WITH THE COMMITTEE FOR PRIVATE EDUCATION.