Sales Management Training Success Stories

Holland Case Study

About Holland

Founded in Holland, Mich., in 1929, Holland provides less-than-truckload shipments in the central and southeastern United States and in eastern Canada. With more than 7700 employees, the company has a long history of excellent service, having won the prestigious Quest for Quality award from Logistics Management magazine for 29 years running.

Critical Challenge

With a shifting economy after the recent recession, Holland wanted to put greater emphasis on securing new customers. To do that, the company wanted its sales managers to be better equipped to reinvigorate their sales teams.

As Jim Ferguson, VP of Sales & Marketing, states, “Over time, it’s easy for a sales manager to become distracted, sometimes overwhelmed, by less-important issues. We wanted our sales managers to take a step back and re-think how they have been approaching their sales manager role. Our goal is to have that well-rounded sales manager who is clear in terms of what he or she needs to do every day, and then goes out and does it.”

Why Holland Chose TopLine Leadership

As Ferguson said: “I wanted a great workshop with practical how-to’s, but more importantly, I needed a partner with a robust reinforcement program to make the training stick. With eLearning, webinars and the Instant Sales Manager Meetings articles that we can use for ongoing discussion, TopLine provides a complete learning system for improved sales management leadership. We’ve measured some outstanding results!”


To allow Holland to assess the impact of the program, TopLine customized its 360 Evaluation program.

Pre-training assessment: In March 2014, Holland’s sales managers were evaluated on 16 key skills by their sales directors.

Post-training assessment: In September 2014, the sales managers were again evaluated by the directors and also did a self-evaluation. Sales reps were surveyed to see if they had felt any impact because of the sales management training that their manager had received. The results measured included:

  • Sales managers’ skills, according to their Directors, had improved by 23% overall.
  • Managers felt they had improved in nearly all 16 skill areas, most dramatically in those related to developmental coaching (diagnosing sales performance problems and doing coaching more regularly) and managing time to enforce business priorities.
  • As shown in the chart, the improvement in sales management had a direct impact on the sales force:
    • 85% of sales reps said they “had a better understanding of what they needed to do to improve”
    • 76% reported they “felt more confident when talking with prospects and customers.”
Sales rep evaluation of impact on them
Sales rep evaluation of impact on them

Case: Untrained Sales Managers

Client Issue

A sales VP identified a number of dimensions of management effectiveness, then measured his sales managers against those criteria. He was disappointed in the results and wanted TopLine Leadership to help his managers improve across all these dimensions, not just sales coaching.

TopLine’s Solution

Our Sales Coaching & Leadership program covers all of the dimensions that concerned this VP. This match between client’s goals and our Sales Coaching &  Leadership program happens quite frequently. The results reported by this company six months after the program are shown in the graph below.


example client-reported results

Case: Sales Managers Not Coaching

Client Issue

Sales managers were not coaching salespeople. Their attitude towards salespeople was “call me when you need me.” Our client surveyed their sales force, asking salespeople to rate their sales managers’ effectiveness. Interestingly, sales managers were rated very high on “my manager cares about my success,” but were rated dead-last on “provides the proactive coaching I need to be successful.” This lack of proactive, developmental coaching was a drag on sales productivity, and resulted in an unacceptable level of sales turnover.

TopLine’s Solution

We customized our Sales Coaching & Leadership workshop. Following the delivery of a two-day “turbo” session to the company’s top 10 Sales VPs, a follow-on program was given to 350 sales managers and sales directors (24 managers per session).


Measured by our client:

  • 99% of sales managers reported that they now “recognize people development as their # 1 priority.”
  • Sales rep turnover decreased significantly, and sales productivity per rep went up 20% over the previous year.
  • 95% of participants reported that they now “work from a clear understanding of our specific sales management expectations and standards.”

Case: No Clear Expectations of Sales Managers

Client Issue

“Our sales managers don’t understand what we want them to do with their time. Our job description for sales managers is poor.” The VP of Sales sent an email to 10 sales managers asking each to reply with his/her understanding of the sales managers’ duties, and what sales managers thought the company expected them to do with their time. The VP of Sales received 10 different responses, none of which matched what the VP wanted them to be doing.

TopLine’s Solution

We facilitated a one-day “job analysis brainstorm session” where a carefully selected small group brainstormed best practices of sales managers and then repackaged these best practices into a new job description. TopLine’s Sales Coaching & Leadership training program was then customized to teach the company’s sales managers the knowledge and skills they needed to perform their jobs. The training also became the forum for senior management to communicate their new expectations to sales managers.

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