Axel Ferreyrolles is the Head of Innovation and Transformation, Global CS Field Enablement at SAP. Responsible for 4,600+ Quota Carriers around the world, Axel is constantly looking at new innovative technology and learning strategies to enhance the performance of SAP’s sales teams.
We caught up with Axel Ferreyrolles, Head of Innovation and Transformation, Global CS Field Enablement at SAP about his experience of the Executive Master's journey.
Axel's involvement with Consalia has been significant in the journey of bringing the Executive Master's programme to life.
Who is Axel Ferreyrolles? : Introduction
Axel Ferreyrolles is the Head of Innovation and Transformation, Global CS Field Enablement at SAP. Responsible for 4,600+ Quota Carriers around the world and 600+ Front Line Sales Managers, Axel is constantly looking at new innovative technology and learning strategies to enhance the performance of SAP’s sales teams.
Axel's journey was highly significant for Consalia, as he led the first-ever in-house cohort of Executive Master's students within the organisation, successfully introducing the Consalia MSc in Leading Sales Transformation to SAP.
Burning Question : Tackling The Challenge
Axel is responsible for enhancing the performance of 4600+ Quota Carriers and 600+ Front Line Sales Managers, spread across five key regions. Additionally, SAP has an extensive portfolio of products and services that are updated continuously. The challenge that was posed to Axel was to ensure that all salespeople within the organisation understood SAP portfolio, the internal sales processes and how they needed to sell SAP’s products and services to diverse categories of customers. SAP had also shifted its focus from ‘On-Premise’ to the Cloud, which added more complexities of getting their sales managers ready to drive this fundamentally different sales engagement model.
Naturally, salespeople are often too busy with their own jobs to find quality time for learning and development. Frontline Sales Managers are especially difficult to convince and motivate to learn in Axel’s experience. Axel had tried various solutions from in-house sales training to virtual sales training, however, nothing seemed to stick with his sales teams and sales managers.
Axel knew that sales managers were the critical vectors to foster a successful transformation at SAP for the sales organisation. He then started looking for new types of sales leadership enablement curriculum outside of SAP.
What learning methods would truly transform the way sales managers lead their teams in the long term?
How do you ensure that a global sales team of this size is updated on the latest information on sales methodologies?
Solution : Solving The Dilemma Of Learning & Development For Busy Sales Teams
From Axel’s experiences testing various solutions, he knew the answer wouldn’t lay in sales training. Instead, he wanted something that was academically proven, he knew that he had to transform the way his sales managers were looking at business to drive meaningful behaviour transformation and sell more cloud business - not an easy job.
At the time, finding an academic university was difficult as sales was not recognised as a profession. Most universities were only able to offer vanilla modules on leadership, whereas Axel wanted something specific to the nuances of the sales profession.
“We spoke about academia with Consalia but one of their strengths - that was nowhere to be found elsewhere - was their ability to also speak business. Effectively, being bilingual in academia as well as sales was quite unique.
Consalia was able to work with Axel on creating an accredited Master’s level programme for SAP’s frontline sales managers. In doing so, the programme gave SAP sales managers the ability to truly transform their approach to sales, covering leadership, management, coaching and collaboration. Where typical sales training courses would last over a couple of weeks, the Master’s programme that Axel created alongside Consalia ran for 2 years.
The unique work-based learning approach of the programme allowed sales managers the flexibility to continue with their day-to-day job whilst working to achieve a Master’s degree, positioning research at the core of their sales leadership activities.
The continuous follow-up and support from both Consalia and Middlesex University would further strengthen the knowledge, skills and behaviours taught on the programme.
Upon the creation of the Master's programme, Axel had decided to enrol himself on the programme too.
Results : Achieving True Sales Transformation
Axel couldn’t expect his fellow sales leaders to undergo a 2-year learning transformation course without having done the course himself. After completing the programme, Axel could confidently say that the accredited Master’s level programme for SAP was a success. As a result of this, SAP and Consalia formed a lasting and collaborative relationship, with the SAP organisation now accounting for a large number of the Consalia Alumni.
Today, 11 cohorts have gone through the SAP Master’s programme. Having a global reach, 100+ managers from 30 countries were trained, 75 of them being SAP Master’s graduates.
Results in numbers
The programme has proven to bring fundamental improvements to the graduate’s careers. For example, while on the course students were regularly promoted.
Over the programme’s 2-year span:
- 50% of students were promoted at least once
- 20% of the students were promoted twice
- 475+ sales research papers were written
- 16 FLSMs (frontline sales managers) have been published in sales journals
- 2 FLSMs are pursuing doctorate level studies
The positive effects of implementing the SAP Master’s programme have exceeded any of our expectations. Several managers have now been published in sales journals along with many graduates pushing themselves further and pursuing a doctorates level study.
This demonstrates each student’s transformation into sales researchers during their time on the programme, leading them to actively contributing to the development of written works and knowledge in sales.
The SAP Master’s programme acts as a career accelerator that supports career advancement, but more importantly for SAP, it had a major impact on the business and teams. This includes the development of innovative deals, improved cross-collaboration between business units and an indirect increase in revenue and customer focus.
From a behaviour perspective, SAP’s Master’s programme has longevity and lasting effects. By focusing on self-reflection, forming new habits and learning the right qualities of a sales leader, the application of learnings from the Master’s programme has been shown to produce long-lasting positive outcomes and genuine personal transformation.
Coaching is a typical example of behaviour change: many high-value deals were closed as a result of proper performance-driven coaching. Coaching also allowed a higher percentage of Sales Quota Carriers to reach their quota (9 out of 11) with 5 reaching the 140% Winner’s Circle, demonstrating that when applied properly, coaching proves to be a real business accelerator.
Although these are the results of the impact on part of the business, there has also been a noticeable impact across the business. Given that every FLSM oversees 8-12 Quota Carriers and sales professionals, the Master’s programme potentially indirectly affects 15% of the sales organisation as a whole.
Conclusion : Becoming Future Ready
In a time of rapid change, the MSc in Professional Practice in Leading Sales Transformation is ever more relevant. The Master’s programme is the best-suited vehicle to accompany sales professionals of all tenures to become genuine transformational leaders, leaders able to cope with high-pressure environments, technological disruptions and structural reorganisations while keeping a line of conduct in terms of purpose and leadership.
There is no doubt that AI will disrupt the sales arena in the next few years, yet Axel knows that the SAP Master’s is the response needed to scientifically research and understand the nature of this new challenge.
According to Axel, any Future-Ready organisation willing to thrive in a chaotic and unpredictable environment will have to implement such a Master’s programme, to ensure that a truly transformative space exists where sales leaders can safely rethink the way they lead and manage to be able to embrace new unforeseeable market needs and customer requirements that will ultimately shake their reality sooner rather than later.