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Coca-Cola HBC champions continuous learning for sales teams to drive customer centricity

Stock pic: Getty/klausvedfelt
Stock pic: Getty/klausvedfelt

Related tags coca-cola hellenic bottling company Coca-cola

Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company developed its own 'Sales Academy' in 2021: which provides continuous learning opportunities for employees. Stuart Ward, Head of Sales Capabilities, explains why it's a game changer for the company.

With 1.4 million customers, visited by 15,000 salespeople a year across our territories, we need to be at the top of our game to fulfill our commitment to grow every customer and delight every consumer. This means constantly improving our customer service and executing with excellence in every channel with the best, most motivated salesforce in the industry. This was the driving force behind our decision to develop our own Sales Academy in 2021, which also provides continuous learning experiences for new joiners and existing Sales employees.

The Sales Academy is a game changer when it comes to the learning experience it offers our people. I’d call out 3 main reasons for that.

1. Comprehensive end-to-end developmental experience

We’ve established one curriculum, across all countries, for all commercial roles that covers business and commercial knowledge, leadership skills and mindset components. These are based on the latest market needs and the experience of our top performers, coupled with on-the-job development opportunities. Our Sales Academy offers three certifications, or Licenses, depending on the level of the individual and their time with the company.

License to Start​ is for all newcomers, to be completed within the first two weeks of their employment. This is designed to make sure they feel personally welcomed, excited and confident from the very first day that they made the best decision for their career in joining Coca-Cola HBC.

On that first day, we give them all the information they need at their fingertips, on any device, any time, wherever they are! This includes a personal welcome message from their new team and digital learning modules that will help them grow into their new role, serve our customers, and deliver results they can be proud of.

Coca-Cola HBC - Sales Academy - Key Visual

License to Sell is ​for all existing Salespeople, to be completed after the first six months with the company. The aim is to support their development and help them to reach their full potential as early as possible. It’s about understanding the gaps and providing the tools and capabilities they need to achieve great results though individual development plans.

License to Lead is ​for those recognised as the best, to help them move faster to the next role in Sales and lead teams. This is also the group that provides the mentors and buddies to newcomers to support their onboarding.

It’s not a pass or fail approach, it is designed to give them the best-in-class capability support to achieve their goals. We also make sure that the best of the best are recognised as role models within our company.

2. All learning available in digital format

Our Sales Academy has significantly advanced the learning experience. No matter the role, market or language, or the depth and breadth of knowledge about our commercial practices, the learning experience is the same and accessible via any mobile device across our territories. So far, 90 master eModules have been developed and have been transformed into over 600 localised versions covering the different languages as well as the specificities of our markets.

3. Open content to everyone – not just sales

Sales Academy’s modules have been designed for our Salespeople, but they are not limited to this population. Every employee in every function can access them. This gives everyone the opportunity to enhance their commercial knowledge & strengthen customer centricity across our business, while opening possibilities for a career in Sales.

Since its launch at the beginning of 2021, the response to the Sales Academy has been very encouraging. More than 1,200 new Sales front-liners have attended License to Start in 2021, with 89% saying that they are satisfied with the onboarding experience. At the same time, more than 6,800 existing Salespeople have started the License to Sell certification and are due to finish and get certified by the end of January 2022.

As one of our new joiners in Nigeria wrote in their feedback: “It has been a wonderful ride all the way. Great onboarding experience - by far the best I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing. Many thanks to those involved in designing the onboarding plan for new employees.”​ After 20 years in Sales, I am still touched by such words, motivated to drive the Sales Academy forward.


About the author: ​Stuart is responsible for leading the capability development of CCHBC customer facing teams in order to drive growth for our customers across all of the company's 28 Coca-Cola HBC countries. Over those 20 years with CCH, he has assumed many different roles from running Customer Teams, Head of Key Accounts and National Field Sales Manager, as well as group roles, as International Key Account Director and Customer Marketing Director. He has lived and worked in Austria, Ireland, and Greece, before relocating back to the UK.

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