Client: HRP Associates, Inc.
Industry: Environmental Consulting
Services: Sales Assessments, Sales Training
Founded in 1982 and serving clients throughout the U.S. and globally, HRP is an environmental consulting firm that offers compliance, hydrogeology, and civil engineering services from seven offices in the U.S. Unlike many of its competitors, HRP embraced business development early on—conducting training starting in 2001 to prepare its consultants for sales.
At that time the company worked with an independent sales trainer for several years, then took a training hiatus.
In 2010, executives realized their junior consultants were not prepared to bring new business into the company. They needed to ramp up sales training.
Because a large number of the technical staff—engineers, geologists, and environmental scientists—was not naturally inclined to sales, they had not been particularly keen on previous sales training programs. The earlier programs did not resonate with their technical consulting approach and style. “Everyone in our field faces this problem,” says Walt Gancarz, CEO. “Developing business was foreign to most of them and not something they enjoyed doing.”
At a time when at least half their competitors suffered a revenue loss, reduction in staff, or office closures, HRP had grown and added staff. But to continue that growth, it needed to build its sales pipeline.
HRP retained RAIN Group to help its consultants overcome their hurdles to successful selling.
Evaluate Each Professional’s Selling Strengths and Potential
To start, the team members were assessed to evaluate and analyze each individual’s selling strengths and potential. In addition to providing insight into the work styles and selling motivations of team members—which provided a platform for determining the skill development needs—the assessment also helped the consultants to better understand the needs of different buyer types to whom they sold.
Train the Next Generation of Rainmakers
A customized two-day RAIN Selling training program was delivered to two cohorts. A series of three live webinars reinforced the learning and helped consultants to put what they learned into practice. To train the next generation of rainmakers, the training was opened to both junior- and senior- level consultants. It was important that as the younger professionals were promoted they had already started to develop their selling skills.
Adopt a Methodology that Works with Your Clients
HRP’s public and private sector clients generate a high level of repeat business. The sales cycle for HRP’s technical services is long, with buyers ranging from the U.S. Navy to financial institutions. For these reasons, equipping technical staff with selling skills that would work in a variety of settings, ranging from networking events to RFP proposal presentations, was critical and the training was customized to focus on these topics.
Gancarz was thrilled with the response to training. “It was a very positive change having RAIN Group and John [Doerr] here. People could relate better to the approach.”
Prior programs at HRP had seen some success, but because those programs did not resonate with most of the consultants Gancarz reported seeing diminishing results from those efforts. “A lot of people were turned off by it, they felt it was too outgoing, too flashy,” he says.
But, HRP’s professionals embraced the RAIN SellingSM method and soon after began to see results, proactively developing business. “We got more people involved [in business development], asking the right questions or expanding projects that we had in hand,” says Gancarz.
One long-time consultant went from not being at all involved in business development to initiating and closing a significant deal. Revenue is projected to grow by nearly 18% (to $18 million) this year alone.