INSEAD Participant Interview

Getting Out of your Comfort Zone and Challenging your Thinking

Marc Imhoff

Senior Consultant

"You will go back into the world of work with new points of view and armed with fresh, revised concepts and modern tools that support you in making things change and achieving greater performance."

Leading the Effective Sales Force past participant 

Could you please start by introducing yourself?

I’m a senior sales consultant. I specialise in developing and implementing strategies that move businesses forward through a defined corporate culture, market expansion, staff development, operational excellence and best-in-class customer experiences. For the past three years, I’ve been advising clients on sales efficiency, growth and helping them to build their capabilities through strategy definition and execution. I’ve completed multiple leadership, sales & marketing and management programmes at high-profile educational institutions.

What made you decide to come on the Leading the Effective Sales Force Programme?

I joined the programme for several reasons. One to get a broader approach on sales performance and two, to be able to implement tangible changes into any sales organisation, where the never-ending need to increase performance is vital.

The programme was at the top of list for quite a while. I wanted to learn from the faculty members and from the other participants. The people on the programme come from such diverse backgrounds, from different industries and different countries, and you learn as much from them as you do from the faculty. If you exchange well with other participants and listen to their experiences, you can get a lot from the programme. It is all about sharing and networking.

Additionally, I was able to learn a lot from the faculty. They teach you concepts, models and methods to improve your workflow once you get back to the office and ultimately, strengthen your self-leadership.

Were your expectations of the programme met?

My expectations were fully met. The programme was invigorating and allowed me to carry out a SWOT analysis on my sales knowledge. I came away with new ideas. It was really helpful. I came back to the office with information and knowledge that I could use, that I could action with customers.

What were some of your key takeaways?

The programme has allowed me to put together an action plan for my customers and has helped me gain more confidence as a sales professional. It has allowed me to not only strengthen what I am doing today, but also to better prepare me for tomorrow, if ever I want to change roles and assume greater responsibility. I feel that I could really use the knowledge I picked up during the programme.

The main benefit was going through many concepts during the programme. We went through a lot of case studies. The participants exchanged a lot of ideas. It was a very practical course.

Has the programme helped you respond to the various needs of your clients?

Absolutely. One of my aims in doing the course was to test my knowledge of sales and to strengthen this knowledge if necessary. I wanted to acquire new skills that I could really use at the end of the programme. I funded the programme on my own and personally speaking, it was an essential programme to do. It was a really good decision and a great investment.

Can you provide examples of putting into practice what you learnt?

With one of my clients, I am evaluating their sales performance. And for this exercise, the programme has been very useful because it has allowed me to come to my client with new concepts and new strategic elements to put into practice. The programme has opened my mind to new ways in which to look at the business and change it. In addition, the programme allowed me to approach the data crunching in new ways to better simulate & stimulate growth. All of these ideas were much clearer once I had done the programme. It gave me a logical approach to my work – defining what would be best, outlining the transformation plan, sizing the allocation of resources, designing the appropriate compensation plans & components till execution. The faculty members gave us lots of really useful information, as did the exchanges with the participants.  

And what did you think of the INSEAD learning environment?

I thought it was great. People are willing to share their knowledge. If you come on one of these programmes, you should be prepared to exchange, to share and to talk. You need to contribute. If you don’t, you don’t get as much out of the programme as you could. Luckily, in my group, we had lots of active participants and it was really inspiring. 

Would you say you have to be prepared before you start the programme?

Definitely. You need to prepare by going through the case studies and the course material. You need to ask yourself where you stand in terms of knowledge and the course material. You need to ask where you need to improve. And when you are on the programme, if there are areas you are unsure of, you can consult with faculty. When you are on the programme, you need to be focused because it is so enriching if you put in the effort. 

And a typical day?

You embark on a journey which prepares you to successfully navigate the diverse challenges that face executives in today’s dynamic context. You analyse and examine exhaustively. You go through case studies and blue pencil them. You exchange and you share with faculty and peers. You need to be ready to participate actively in discussions. 

And the teaching?

Leonard and Paddy really master it all. They give you the full picture on how to progress in your profession and they are the masters of agility. They help you digest all the course information to help you succeed when you leave the programme. They are really captivating. They can also be provocative when need be. They force you out of your comfort zone. They encourage you to look at things from a different angle. They challenge your thinking. As participants, we thought we knew things. We wanted to see if our knowledge was ok. But the course enables you to really reassess what you know. The programme really surprises you. 

Why INSEAD?

For me the school is one of the best. It was the right timing as I was in between two jobs. For me there was no question, or doubt, in my mind. At INSEAD you meet people who are on the same wavelength as you. At the end of the day, you know the faculty are top notch and the participants are of an excellent calibre. 

What would you say to someone who is thinking of doing the programme?

It’s a brilliant programme. Thanks to the cases and discussions orchestrated by the directors, you really are put in a position in which you will think differently. You will also brush up on some old concepts. You will go back into the world of work with new points of view and armed with fresh, revised concepts and modern tools that support you in making things change and achieving greater performance. I came back energised, with new ideas. I was able to take advantage of the programme in many ways. What makes the programme great is what you get from it and what you will be able to use in your day job afterwards. You learnt quite a lot, unlike some programmes where there is a lot of talk and at the end you throw away most of it. You really come back with the right tools and right elements to make a difference.

Interested in the programme? If you have further questions, consult our website or contact the programme advisor by email

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