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Adidas, Holistic Sales Training Programme

Adidas, Holistic Sales Training Programme

Business Issue:

  • Industry: Retail
  • Products/Curriculum: Train the Trainer (TTT), Knowing Adidas, 52 Training Pitches
  • Training Population: Sales representatives in over 150 shops EMEA-wide (Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Russia, Hungary, Slovak Republic, Czech Republic, Poland, South Africa)

Company Profile

The sporting world was forever altered in 1920, the year Adi Dassler constructed his first pair of shoes. Since then, adidas AG has become a global leader in the sporting goods industry as well as a pioneer in sporting goods technology. Products from the adidas Group—from footwear, to apparel, to accessories—are available in practically every corner of the world. Their unmistakable “three stripes” logo is everywhere: at major sporting competitions, on street corners, and in households.

In 1997, adidas acquired the Salomon group and the company’s name changed to adidas-Salomon AG. On January 31, 2006, adidas-Salomon AG acquired Reebok International Ltd. This Reebok transaction marked a new chapter in the history of the adidas Group. By combining two of the most respected and well-known brands in the sporting goods industry worldwide, the new Group was set to benefit from a more competitive worldwide platform, well-defined and complementary brand identities, a wider range of products, and a stronger presence across teams, athletes, events and leagues.

Seeking a Coach

Although there are instances when the customer knows what they want in a product, and will stop at nothing to purchase it, there are many instances where external factors influence their decision. A poorly trained employee can quickly influence a customer’s decision negatively. In a large number of stores within their emerging market territory, adidas discovered that this was happening at undesirable levels. It became clear that there was no passion for the customer.

The inspiration for change is a result of adidas’ mission to create employees that are knowledgeable regarding their latest technological developments and, more importantly, proud to be selling their products. By employing mystery shopping, the qualitative assessment tool, adidas systematically took note of specific flaws which they knew had to be eliminated in order to raise employee awareness and, in turn, create more sales.

High employee turnover was another reason for seeking help from DOOR. It was clear that a self-defeating cycle was perpetuating itself at adidas stores: low-skilled employees were not making many sales nor being promoted and thus, were leaving the stores to look for employment elsewhere. For DOOR, the solution was obvious. By empowering employees with the necessary skills to raise sales, and instilling them with a bond to adidas, both problems could be solved through one comprehensive training programme.

Adidas’ Path Towards Passion

By identifying and understanding their flaws, adidas was able to find a suitable partner that would aid them in training and coaching their store managers which would internally serve as a means to train their employees. DOOR would lay the foundation for adidas, helping them achieve their desired goals and vision. At the core of this partnership is the development of improvement points which would be tailored to each store. DOOR’s belief in global presence and local excellence ensured that only a perfect fit for each store would be acceptable.

The first task was creating a passion for adidas within the employees. For this, DOOR created “Knowing adidas,” the overall objective of which is evident through its title. This programme was created to ensure that within a years time, all new employees and managers would be on the same wavelength concerning adidas’ vision, mission, strategy, and future. Upon completion of the programme, all adidas retail employees would convey the same message regarding adidas’ organisation, products and technologies, sales skills and visual merchandising. A goal of this task was for employees to be able to give an informative, yet interesting description of adidas in a 1-minute presentation.

After designing a curriculum, the first step was to train their store managers with DOOR’s specifically tailored courseware to the point that they would be able to coach their employees for an extended period of time. The process began with a Train the Trainer (TTT) programme, delivered by a DOOR Master Trainer to adidas store managers. The TTT contains an overview of the training programme, guidelines on how to deliver the training as well as coaching support. This programme emphasises both effective leadership attitudes and the maximisation of learning results. It describes the “You-approach,” where employees are instructed to focus their comments and insights on the customer, and champion the tailoring of language where appropriate. This programme heavily emphasises the coaching aspect of teaching and tries to cultivate a friendly competitive sales atmosphere.

Implementing Change

Change never comes without some form of resistance. Therefore, DOOR dedicated a large portion of the training programme to gaining authority and respect from our customers’ team because we believe this is the best method to minimise difficulties resulting from change-reluctant employees. DOOR also recognises the importance of active listening, constructive criticism, and asking open-ended questions; thus, a module is dedicated to each of these topics respectively. Each module is couched within the 6 facets of “passion for performance,” the slogan of our adidas programme. The 6 areas of selling targeted were:

  • smile—eye contact (how to successfully engage customers)
  • consumer—modes (different ways to respond to consumer types)
  • listen—understand (determining and fulfilling consumer needs)
  • product—presentation (learning about products and how to present this knowledge)
  • fitting room—experience (understanding the influence of the fitting room)
  • consumer—passion (developing a desire to create enthusiastic consumers)

Solidifying Change

Thus, while the passion for performance is a sales programme, the “52 Training pitches” was used for anchoring the recently acquired knowledge. These pitches were given from a DOOR Master Trainer to the store managers, which they delivered to their employees. On an allocated day of the week, the store manager must dedicate 30 minutes to his employees and expand upon 1 of the 52 “pitches.” Each pitch is a short saying which conveys a specific message targeted at improving crucial aspects of selling, which were separated into 5 different categories:

  • customer enthusiasm
  • sales
  • products
  • visual merchandising
  • complaints
As this is a continuous project, after the training has been completed there are supporting materials and embedding tools which reinforce the teachings. It is through the process of embedding this programme’s teachings that the employees truly became better salespeople for an extended period of time.


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