INSEAD Participant Interview

Getting the Bigger Picture with Sales Training at INSEAD

Tommy Arvinell

Partner at Oneforce Group

"If you have worked in sales and have practical experience, it’s a great way to think out of the box and get inspiration on how to do things differently, with different approaches."

Leading the Effective Sales Force past participant 

Could you start by introducing yourself?

I work as a consultant and have done so for the past 15 years, both for consultancies and freelancing. I am currently a freelancer and together with a business partner, I work on commercial excellence and performance improvement. We help companies improve their sales effectiveness and organise their commercial operations. 

I took the Leading the Effective Sales Force programme (LESF) in 2010 and I just completed my EMBA at INSEAD. LESF was a test to see if INSEAD suited me and I can say that it did. I was very pleased.

Why did you join the programme?

Out of curiosity I suppose. I had expectations of course, but I came with an open mind. I wanted to learn about things I could use in actual assignments - models and methodologies that I could apply in my day-to-day business.

I had been working on sales effectiveness before I enrolled on the LESF programme, but I was interested in exploring what I could learn from business schools on the topic. There aren’t that many sales programmes and there aren’t that many professors who are interested in sales. Most deal with marketing. From an academic perspective, it’s an underdeveloped area. So, I was very interested in seeing what INSEAD had to offer in this domain.

And of course, another of my expectations was to have the INSEAD brand name on my CV and to become part of the INSEAD network.

What did you get out of the programme?

Very specifically, it was the first time I was introduced to the farmer vs. hunter model. This was one among several concepts that I have been able to use since. It has had an impact on my work and it has been very useful for my clients.

What was great was that the professors were able to structure everything, make it all fit together and give you the whole picture. They take abstract concepts, tie them to real world examples and help these concepts make sense. It helps makes your thoughts, and approach to work, more structured. In the end, you become more effective and efficient. You get a really good overview of everything and that was a big value for me and a big takeaway.

Did the faculty get engaged?

Absolutely. That’s what faculty at INSEAD is good at and that’s how the INSEAD professors stand out I think. The case studies used were very good and the professors’ approach excellent. They were very engaging and they make you feel excited and inspired.

How about the partnership with Wharton? Do you think that added a plus to the programme?

Definitely. Leonard, from Wharton, brought his own specific knowledge and specific experience which complimented Paddy’s (INSEAD) well. Paddy covers more of the strategic side of sales, whereas Leonard is more focused on sizing and deployment - how to run a team in an entrepreneurial, pragmatic way.

Did you find that you were able to learn much from the other participants?

I did. I learnt not only from the course content, but also from the professors and from the other participants. You spend a week with those on the programme with you. You eat with them, socialise with them. You talk a lot and this was very good. The network aspect is not to be underestimated.

You listen to the professors. They inspire you and then you can go away and talk about what you’ve heard in a breakout session with the other participants. There is a lot of interaction. Spending so much time together, you develop a certain amount of trust and confidence and that makes people open up.

We were able to talk about each other’s experiences and people were willing to share a lot. For example, there was a participant from Pakistan who works in sales for a telecommunications company. We were able to talk about how he drives sales, how he develops new offerings. It was very interesting and very enriching. The networking was a big part of the programme.

What would you say to someone thinking about doing the programme?

If you have worked in sales and have practical experience, it’s a great way to think out of the box and get inspiration on how to do things differently, with different approaches.

Interested in the programme? If you have further questions, check out our website or contact Perrine Wirth-Cezard, the programme advisor on +33 1 60 72 45 27 or at perrine.wirth-cezard@insead.edu.

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