“Act fast, act global” was Reed Midem’s motto when it first met with Crossknowledge three years ago. The company specializes in organizing trade fairs, but wanted to radically transform its approach to sales after the 2008 crisis. The solution Reed Midem and Crossknowledge came up with is The Square: a digital platform developed specially for sales staff in 50 countries. Much more than a learning portal, The Square is an all-purpose tool that Reed Midem’s sales force uses every day.
Mipcom, MipTV, Midem, Mapic, Mimpim… these international business-to-business fairs have become unmissable events for the entertainment and real estate industries which represent Reed Midem’s two main markets, attracting the world’s most powerful decisionmakers in these business sectors. The firm belongs to the world’s leading trade show organizer, Reed Exhibition, a subsidiary of the Anglo-Dutch giant RELX group. “95 per cent of our revenue comes from international clients” explains Matthieu Hallaire, Executive Vice-President Sales at Reed Midem. His mission is to lead a global sales strategy, implemented by a team of 150 salespeople, including 50 partner representatives, in Paris, New York, London and Hong Kong.
Developing an advisory approach to selling
“Our business experienced extraordinary growth in the 2000s, which probably led us to underestimate the importance of selling. Until that point, our salespeople weren’t really trained. The firm tended to see selling as an innate skill and not necessarily a methodbased profession” observes Matthieu Hallaire. As the recession created havoc in the events sector, Reed Midem became aware of how urgent it was to change the team’s
approach to selling. The challenge was to move from selling products to a more advisory approach. “We used to sell space by the square foot. But trade fairs were becoming fullfledged media, and that meant we were moving from an exhibition-centered approach to a relational approach. It meant looking at the sales process from a completely new angle” says Matthieu Hallaire. But how could he initiate the change in a group that is so spread out geographically, and so culturally and linguistically diverse? “We needed a tool to get the teams on board in a highly responsive way” he explains.
The Square: much more than a training portal
Reed Midem didn’t just want to address the Learning dimension, it also wanted a digital platform that made it possible to communicate as well as to train. “CrossKnowledge developed an almost made-to-measure solution for us. The standard tool only responded to a quarter of our overall objective. We worked together to bring that up to 100 percent. The CrossKnowledge team loved the challenge” says Matthieu Hallaire.
The Square was designed as a digital marketplace with four sections, in which the sales force can find everything they need to increase their performance. The first section features a quarterly editorial sharing the strategic vision of the firm. The second is the Learning section, divided into two blocks. One contains around ten made-to-measure blended learning paths designed for different groups: sales directors, key account managers, representatives, etc. The other block provides free access to the entire CrossKnowledge content catalog. “We’re really eager to invest in our talents, and this tool allows our sales teams to take charge of their own development” explains Matthieu Hallaire.
In the third section, salespeople can search for essential sales tools, e.g. pitches, slide presentations, business news, etc. The fourth section–linked to Salesforce–allows the teams to access their sales figures and business
indicators in real time: including individual revenues, objectives, number of new prospects, etc. “With this platform, our sales teams have access to the four pillars of high-performance sales, says Matthieu Hallaire. They can measure their performance, they’re more efficient thanks to the range of tools available to them, they understand the strategic vision of the company, and they can take up the challenge of training.”
A “change accelerator” that gets results
Reed Midem continues to enrich and enliven The Square platform on a regular basis. Many new training paths have been integrated since the launch, for example one designed for onboarding new sales staff. Every Wednesday, all 150 salespeople receive the MySales TV newsletter, supported by a video featuring a CrossKnowledge expert. The Square has also risen to one of the key challenges of the project: involving both payroll and non-payroll sales representatives thanks to a multicultural, multilingual and determinedly modern approach. “Of course English is universal, but we really needed other languages such as Chinese and Russian as well. It’s just a detail, but the fact that you can choose the setup language for the tool is really valuable to us” says Matthieu Hallaire.
Since the CrossKnowledge portal was set up in 2012, revenue at Reed Midem has increased by over 30 per cent, new events have been organized in Tokyo, London, Cancun and Shanghai, and customer satisfaction rates
have increased by more than ten points. “The sales teams now position themselves as true partners for their clients. After three and a half years, I see The Square as one of the factors in our transformation. This tool has allowed us to talk to each other more effectively, to enhance our skills, and to move faster” says Matthieu Hallaire. What’s more, following this success, the firm’s HR department has carried on with the project and put in place a CrossKnowledge solution for the entire workforce.