Executive Coaching Case Study
Cleansorb is a chemical engineering company which develops innovative reservoir treatments for operators in the oil and gas industry. Based in the UK and with clients and strategic partners across the globe, the company is seeking to increase its footprint in South America. Ian McKay, co-founder and MD, identified one of his project scientists as having the necessary language skills and network of contacts to help grow the business in this market.
Ian therefore approached People Vision to develop a coaching programme to prepare the employee for the increasingly customer focused aspect of her role. People Vision associate Jill Downing led on the project; Jill is an experienced coach and trainer with a background in Customer Relationship Management (CRM), having spent 10 years working in advertising as Client Services Manager for a major global food brand.
A chemist by training, the employee had no previous experience of development programmes of this sort. As a senior project scientist, she was not in a sales role and had limited exposure to client facing situations, yet was being tasked to promote the business in a highly specialised and competitive environment.
It was therefore important for Jill to develop the employees portfolio of skills, introducing her to a broad range of CRM tools, and coaching her to use them in a way that was authentic to her own style.
After an initial meeting at Cleansorb to understand the employee's needs and those of the business, Jill designed a six module coaching programme to be rolled out over a period of six months.
Each module consisted of a 2.5 hour 1-2-1 session in which Jill explored key tools and techniques with the employee, coached her on how to apply them in her work, and used practical exercises and simulations to experiment with them, rehearsing and embedding the strategies she found most effective.
The focus of each module was as follows:
Working Styles (covering exercises to identify the employee's own working style, and activities to explore how to adapt her approach to meet the needs of others with differing styles).
The 7 Steps of Selling, Part 1 (covering a structured technique for planning and managing conversations with prospective and existing clients).
The 7 Steps of Selling, Part 2 (as above).
Communication Skills (covering rapport building, questioning and listening techniques, assertiveness, and the power of non-verbal communication).
Telephone Skills (covering the Sales Call Planner tool, including strategies for making an introduction, problem solving, and Robert Cialdini’s theories of Influence, plus vocal techniques for generating interest and engagement on the telephone).
Skills Practice (using simulated scenarios to explore in greater depth the techniques covered in previous modules).
Jill observed a significant development in the employee's skills over the course of the six months, especially in terms of the growing confidence and fluency she showed when rehearsing her approach in the simulated exercises.
The employee's feedback was that she found Jill an “excellent” coach, and felt that the work was enjoyable and enormously beneficial.
“I’ve really enjoyed your lessons, I think you’ve helped me a lot to develop these new skills over the last few months. Many thanks for your patience and all your help.”
Soon after the final session, the employee represented Cleansorb at an industry conference, and reported that she was able to build promising relationships with a number of potential customers who approached the company’s stall.
“I had the opportunity of making good contacts and I put in practice everything you’ve taught me.”