The 2011/03/01 at 15:28
Knowing how to sell goods or services to clients or else ideas to a boss – this is a skill that is acquired by learning! This is the underlying principle that those at the centre for sales skills development Booster Academy stand by. The concept, inspired by the Anglo-Saxon model, is based on “intensive training in sales” and overturns the usual codes. “We want to get rid of hang-ups on selling and to go past all trade-related taboos,” explains Évelyne Platnic-Cohen, 42 years old, Founder and Manager of Booster Academy. As it is a matter of training, the method borrows from many sporting codes. In the centres, posters portraying athletes exerting themselves set the agenda: “Need to muscle up your sales? Need to develop your potential?” The skills of each trainee are evaluated according to a scale including 12 levels. Up to level 6, skills focus on sales to individual clients with no preliminary prospecting. Levels 7 to 12 then cover negotiations and sales to large corporations. This ingenious approach to training was fine-tuned three years ago by Évelyne Platnic-Cohen. Becoming a sales manager at age 23, this sales whiz rapidly felt a desire to share her aptitudes. In 2003, she set up Memento Conseil, a structure specialising in consultancy and training in effective sales and client relations. “We trained many salespersons but I was frustrated by the absence of follow up,” she admits. “So I wanted to reinvent the learning model.”
A pedagogical method
For every new enrolment at the Booster Academy, the first stage consists in establishing a diagnostic. An interview allows the trainee’s level to be ascertained and to determine the target level. The organism then specifies the fees of the recommended training programme. Prices start at 980 euros (excluding tax), whatever the level; the cost is digressive according to the number of levels that need to be covered. The candidate is given a booklet providing step-by-step follow-up of his or her evolution. Every level includes e-learning modules and two half-days of group training (4 to 5 persons) in a centre or at the client office. These groups are overseen by a trainer with solid sales experience, also trained in Booster Academy techniques. “Our pedagogical method is highly specialised,” points out Évelyne Platnic-Cohen. “It is based on situation training, adaptation to profiles and the validation of acquired skills.” If a stage is not assimilated correctly, it is possible to sit for it again for free. Training may be paid for by an approved collection agency, but often candidates finance it themselves. According to the Manager, “our trainees show a real desire to get to jump to a new stage”.
These trainees come from diverse horizons and may include salespersons, entrepreneurs, large groups, SMEs, artisans, students or artists. Stress management, speech improvement, successful negotiation: all aspects of sales are broached. Above all, trainees benefit from follow-up over time. “We bring them a network,” details Évelyne Platnic-Cohen. “Every Friday morning, we organise breakfasts allowing them to go over basics and meet new people.” Complementary training days are also organised year round. With a turnover coming to 2.2 million euros for 2011, Booster Academy has three centres in Paris, Bordeaux and Lille, with around twenty employees. A centre is scheduled to open shortly in Lyon, and in 18 months’ time, the structure intends to develop overseas. The niche is promising: there are very few training programmes adapted to the sales domain. And demand is growing. Since its creation, over 1,000 persons have been trained. Riding on its success and credibility – in 2009, Booster Academy won the Prix BFM Académie –, the company also offers sourcing and recruitment services. Aimed at corporate accounts, but also SMEs, it detects potential candidates, takes charge of their training, and follows them up to the end of their trial periods. A candidate “certified” as being amongst the most competent – now that’s ample fodder for appeasing companies.