Client Testimonial: Smurfit Kappa

My name is Stephen McAneny. I am the VP of Sales, responsible for sales and commercial strategy for Smurfit Kappa.Smurfit Kappa is a global leading packaging company. My main focus is with major multinational pan European accounts, a lot of national, local accounts so a very diversified customers portfolio. We supply across multiple sectors from agriculture to automotive,to confection, so a very complex business environment.

Why the need for a sales improvement partner?

Smurfit Kappa operates in a very complex business with a lot of competition so the first priority in terms of why is that we really want to differentiate our offering versus our competitors in the eyes of our customers but also in terms of our stakeholders, that was the first reason. The second one is obviously the landscape is constantly changing, business environment is changing and we needed to really up skill and raise the bar versus both our competition but also how we really add value to our clients. The third one, which is the most important, is about building sustainable, profitable growth for the company.Why did you choose SPI?One of the reasons is that we wanted to benchmark and see how good are we, not just in terms of our industry but also what does good look like outside of the industry.

What are the other well classed B2B companies? How do they operate?

Most external third parties tell you a lot about what and why but what I liked about SPI was the focus on how. So really putting in the key enablers, a process structured methodology, a process for success, that focused on value. The fit seemed very complementary to what we were looking for.Describe the work done with SPI?In the very beginning we did a diagnostic assessment to really benchmark exactly where we are and what are the areas we need to focus on, prioritize going forward. And then, following that, we’ve engaged SPI, who are instrumental in terms of tailoring the content of the training to our business but also in terms of learning.
What are the gaps that we have in our current capabilities? Where do we need to focus on? How are we going to do this? How are we going to scale this across the whole company and make it part of the new DNA, the way of working for Smurfit Kappa?

What was your experience working with SPI?

Very engaging. I mean full commitment. Easy to say but, you know, a company that’s been sort of very risk-averse to using third parties, we were a bit hesitant in what we were going to get when we would work with SPI? But the experience across all of our markets has been first class. Full engagement and going beyond just a training program, really looking at the content, understanding our business, understanding the issues that we face, what are we trying to achieve as a result of the program and really supporting the content. They’ve really gone beyond just the engagement that we have committed to. There is a lot of coaching and lot of reinforcement. We’ve had extra tuition, if you like, an extra focus areas, always available on a call for best learnings, best practice sharing. It’s been a two-way-process. I think without SPI we wouldn’t have come as far as we have in such a short period of time.

What are the results?

We started 18 months ago once we launched our brand strategy and we trained now 2000 sales force general managers, sales managers. So that’s a tremendous achievement for the company but it’s not just the training, we’ve also been reinforcing this through coaching, management cadence, we are doing a lot on getting the value articulation right, making sure the content is right, using the structured methodology tools as a result in the SPI process. That’s really been the main focus for the last 6 months of this year. Our main priority is: How do we really get the understanding of critical business issues embedded to our company? How do we create vision? How do we reengineer the buying vision? Making sure our sales organisation is comfortable and feel confident that they got a process which is understood and they have the kind of courage of conviction to really implement this across the organisation. The third key area for us is really about monetising this. How do we monitor not just our hit rates or win rates but, you know, what is the sales lifecycle time? How can we improve that? How do we generate better value for clients, improving the margin but also for Smurfit Kappa, how do we become more sustainable with a healthy pipeline we are able to convert and manage the business in a better way we’ve done in the past.