Transforming Britvic’s Field Sales Performance

The Sales Challenge

In October 2019, Peter Hill, the Head of Britvic Field Sales (Licensed Free Trade), took the strategic decision to employ outsourced management for a new field sales team for the London Essence premium mixer drinks range, and to put in place a structured learning programme. The idea was to use the Sales Executive apprenticeship to guarantee future sales representatives have a good basic skill set and achieve consistent levels of business winning knowledge and competence.  

Previously Britvic’s apprenticeship programmes had focused primarily on engineering and production so this was a new departure for the organisation. Britvic turned to field sales management agency Elevate to manage the team, because, according to Hill, there was a strong alignment between Elevate’s aims and those of the Britvic sales department and to The JGA Group to manage the apprenticeship. 

The Solution

Britvic/Elevate started with a brand new team of apprentices with no previous sales skills or experience and who saw the apprenticeship as an opportunity to develop a career and gain a foothold in a growing profession, within a widely respected brand. The apprenticeship was tailored to putting in place the right customer experience and operational procedures as well as the knowledge, skills and behaviours on which the apprenticeship standard is based.

As Peter Hill says, “the foundation [of the programme is] the relationship they [Elevate] have got with JGA. And that is all built on trust. So when we talked to them about the apprenticeship programme, we could just see that the relationships that they had with JGA were very strong. We didn’t need to look anywhere else. We just knew that was the right thing for us.”

The approach which JGA took enabled all the apprentices to have the same standard of training in sales. This was critical to Britvic, since the company had found themselves losing more customers than planned, they needed sales training which enabled trainees to be able not only to close sales, but also to retain and manage relationships with existing customers. It also began to produce consistent results across the team.

Return On Investment

Will, one of the apprentices said, “When I first started, I was a bit like a chicken in the headlights. I didn’t really know where to start, because the whole idea of planning a day around calls and managing my own diary and things like that were completely new to me. So, although I had good customer relationships, it was more the organisational side that I didn’t have.” 

He continued, “now, I’ve gained a foundational knowledge of sales across a broad spectrum. So although I’m currently selling within quite a specific segment … those skills … techniques, and behaviours that I’ve learned on the apprenticeship can then be applied to other areas … throughout my career.” 

Despite Covid, the sales team have now managed to deliver better results than in the previous year, and staff retention is no longer an issue. As Sue Welch, Senior Account Manager at Elevate said, “[there are no longer] any issues with retention on the field team. [The team] like the product, they believe in what they’re doing – it’s just been amazing…” 

Sue continues, “…some of the sales team who had no previous sales experience, became some of the best sales reps that we’ve got. The team are now so confident, they really want to do well, and they are a very happy team.” 

Following the success of the programme, Britvic has transferred additional sales responsibilities to Elevate and they then worked with JGA to establish the sales skill profile of all members of this newly transferred team. Those for whom a significant skill gap was identified were then enrolled onto the sales apprenticeship programme as an up-skill cohort. This second cohort has achieved an amazing 80% apprenticeship success rate. Elevate’s ambition is to build on success with a third cohort starting in early 2022 and success has been such that this Elevate/Britvic field sales team has been shortlisted for the Field Marketing & Brand Experience Magazine – Field Sales Team of the Year (2022). 

Steve Radford, JGA’s Head of Sales Apprenticeships comments “Britvic has combined the field sales partnership with Elevate and JGA’s sales apprenticeships to transform the performance of the free trade channel to market through tough, pandemic stricken, times. We are delighted to have worked with them, are keeping our fingers crossed for the result of the Field Sales Team of the Year award (2022) and look forward to a great future of developing sales resource.”