Transport company learns how to keep customers on board
Transdev Group and Cegos recently won Silver in the prestigious Brandon Hall Excellence Awards for ‘Best Program for Sales and Performance’. Here is the story of how the Cegos’ team helped a global transport company build relationships with existing clients and attract new ones.
To keep your business in good shape, it is equally important to nurture relationships with existing clients for retention over the long term, as to conquer new ones. Sounds relatively straightforward.
A complex sales process
In a few sectors however, such as the public transport industry, nurturing business relationships is complex and challenging. Business opportunities are often large scale and involve significant investment in transport materials and infrastructure. Clients are most of the time Public Transport Authorities (PTAs), organisations linked to elected bodies at City / Regional or Governmental levels. Therefore, they motivated by political as well as economic concerns, following strict public tender rules.
More specifically, being acknowledged by PTAs as a trusted mobility business partner comes from a combination of quality of delivery, responsiveness, innovation and proactivity.
Becoming client centric
To achieve such an ambitious outcome, the company has developed sales processes and tools to be more client centric. This meant taking time to understand the client’s working environment and major challenges. For example, PTA board members and elected bodies need to develop a shared vision of public mobility over large territories. They also need to consider the long-term impact of their projects on society and the environment, fund their ambition, while keeping mobility services as much cost-efficient as possible.
Transdev also wanted to increase their General Managers and Business Developers awareness on client relationship soft skills. For example, advanced questioning skills and effective listening, emotional intelligence and assertiveness. They are very useful resources when facing challenging contract management situations.
The route to a strategy
From the outset, it was important to align the programme with the company’s strategic plan. We began with three core objectives.
1) Strategise Transdev client centricity
Spread a set of tools to assess client needs and level of satisfaction, determine corrective action plans and understand service benefits from the PTA client’s as well as passengers’ point of view.
2) Implement more effective client interactions
Connect in a more structured manner with relevant stakeholders, unveil their expectations and motivations, manage unexpected events during the contract lifetime and keep a positive attitude.
3) Retain and win new clients
Identify organic growth as well as new business opportunities and engage existing or prospective clients with even more personalised and innovative proposals.
‘Gaining Clients for Life’ was designed to help General Managers implement key Transdev business development tool. It runs over 8 weeks. The program includes an initial skills assessment, a set of virtual classes before a core session and a post-training assessment to measure progress.
A very close to real life and comprehensive business case inspires the practical application across the training as a common thread. When the pandemic hit, the core face-to-face training was converted into an engaging online delivery.
Those who have already begun implementing the Transdev’s tools can benefit from a shorter, 4-week version of the program.
The program was first rolled out in five countries. It was such a success that it is now deployed in all Transdev’s key global markets. Indeed, the program has had a tangible impact on the field. In several countries, contracts have been extended or amended without public tendering, successfully being closed by mutual agreement.
Participants said that ‘Gaining Clients for Life’ re-enforced the importance of client centricity in their activities. It changed their practices ‘for life’ by teaching them to anticipate challenges and prepare to win. It also made them focus on asking more questions and practice active listening. This helped ensure the client that they have been understood.
“The program supports a real cultural change in the transformation of the company,” says Camille Boulier, Vice-President Business Strategy and Communications at Transdev. “It ensures that over time we are more efficient, always closer to our clients’ challenges. This requires a cultural guidance provided by this training in the growth and performance of the company.”