CenturyLink: A Comeback Story

By Tim Riesterer, Chief Strategy Officer

September 24, 2015

CenturyLink may have endured a lean year or two in the first half of the decade, but now they’re back and thriving on the strength of a new identity as a differentiated IT solutions provider. The company’s resurgence also owes something to better, more focused customer conversations, fueled by a shift in their approach to sales enablement and training.

  • To successfully transition from a commoditized, product-oriented company to a dynamic IT solutions provider, CenturyLink knew it had to develop the kind of message that would allow them to stand out in a crowded, hyper-competitive market. With Power Messaging as the foundation, the company shifted to a messaging approach based on “commercial and market-based insights.” According to Jones, this allowed them to develop “point of view pitches” that aim to identify customer challenges, which they can then map to their unique business strengths to show prospects how their solutions positively affect ROI. Jones noted that the ROI-focused point of view pitches not only helped them distill complex solutions into digestible ideas, but also get better access to key executive decision makers.
  • Another training shift CenturyLink spearheaded was the establishment of a sales effectiveness consulting team to provide coaching air cover. This initiative helped them develop a “coach the coach” training program, led by sales leaders who have experience in all skills training platforms (Power Messaging included), as well as previous sales leadership experience. As part of this program, salespeople are being trained to deliver whiteboard-style presentations to make their POVs more remarkable, and to help them internalize their message so they can deliver it in high-pressure environments.
  • Jones offered a simple maxim that sales leaders can’t afford to take for granted: When you coach to the skills you invest in, adoption soars and behaviors change. And when you don’t, you’re missing an opportunity. Still, as far as adoption is concerned, most sales leaders know the passage of time can be their worst enemy. Jones noted that while adoption is always high after a workshop, it does tend to wane with time. To counteract this, the company is weighing various reinforcement ideas to make sure the skills and techniques they train to are retained more completely by their sales teams.