News Stay informed about the latest enterprise technology news and product updates.

Honeywell Aerospace trains a new breed of sales force on CRM

Since Honeywell Aerospace is made up of many divisions the company has had to invest heavily in data sharing and customer-centric software. Peppers & Rogers found that employee training played a key role its success.

Honeywell Aerospace provides aerospace products and services to customers, including Airbus, American Airlines and Delta Airlines. The company has more than 40,000 employees making up 12 different enterprises under the Aerospace umbrella and selling 50 different product lines. Before the impact of September 11, sales were approximately $10 billion.

Back in the early '90s, these enterprises operated autonomously with no coordinated information sharing. This meant that reps from each of these product lines called on customers separately, with no knowledge of each other's activities.

Not surprisingly, this lack of coordination left clients unhappy. Customers had multiple points of contact and were clearly frustrated by conflicting demands on their time from the same supplier. So for nearly a dozen years, Honeywell Aerospace (AlliedSignal Aerospace before a 1999 merger with Honeywell) has been transforming itself into a customer-centric organization with one centralized view of the customer. From 50 P&Ls, they now have three independent business units: Avionics; Engines, Systems and Service; and Aircraft Landing Systems.

This has meant an entirely new way of doing business for Honeywell, including an extensive training program. Honeywell Aerospace has approximately 150 account team leaders worldwide (120 for commercial accounts and the remainder to serve government clients). These individuals act as representatives for the customer and present those clients with a single face for the entire company. They work with internal product people to sell and service all 50 product lines. For some larger customers, this may mean the sales rep is actually co-located with the customer (on-site or nearby).

As part of its CRM strategy, Honeywell has implemented software from Siebel Systems to provide common customer information across its business units. However, there are still challenges in getting data. Since the organization grew through acquisitions, there are multiple ERP systems and a dozen order-management systems. "It is a journey, not a destination," says Dave Ryan, business process integration manager. "It will take a number of years to fulfill our end goals, but we have a roadmap that builds sequentially and means more and better access to information for our people."

CRM, and the availability of more customer information, has meant a huge transition for the sales force and the rest of the organization. It also has meant the creation of completely new customer-centric sales practices.

Processes first, then technology

This, of course, has meant training. Ryan admits that Honeywell didn't get it right the first time. "We started out training on the software. We thought we had the processes already; in fact, we had cross-functional teams that had agreed upon the processes." They developed a two-day classroom program on the new tools and processes, then started training.

However, in speaking with a product-line director who had just taken his whole organization through the training process, Ryan realized his group hadn't got the formula quite right. "He told me 'The software is really neat and it seems like a good tool. But my team and I don't know how we'll actually use it. We still have our existing processes and management still wants us to report that way,'" Ryan recalls. "Comments like that made us go back and rethink it."

The team went back to the drawing board; they stopped thinking about training and started looking at people, process and technology -- and the intersection of the three. "We recognized that those three elements needed to be blended together," Ryan says. They didn't want to automate and streamline the same old processes, but rather, "fundamentally change the process, by providing better access to information for making decisions. We modified what the organization looked like-blended processes-and adapted the tool to create an organizational information flow." Once that was done, they were free to reconsider the training -- not an easy task, as they were asking people to replace the way they currently operated.

Today, the new training looks very different-in both content and form. "The time needed on the tool is very short for those who are computer literate," explains Ryan. "We wanted to capture their imagination in the context of the processes they live with on a day-to-day basis; to show them the possibilities." The content in the new program helps them understand the new processes, including how to migrate data and how they will be measured. Critical to success is that the leadership teams are also being trained.

They also have moved away from the two-day classroom format, and instead have developed a 'multi-tiered' approach, recognizing that new processes must be reinforced. The first tier is computer-based training, on the Web or a local desktop, focusing on the functionality of the software and some of the process steps. Second, they "trained the trainers," a network of people who reside back in the "home businesses," whose job it is to train others. These individuals act as mentors and provide specific context for the changes. A central team (of which Ryan is part) backs up this network, ensuring that common business processes and common training are followed. Their job is to ensure the organization is successful as it evolves and to help people adapt their processes.

A final component of the training plan is a help desk. "People need to have a place to contact with questions," notes Ryan. Without that, there is no reinforcement of the learning or behavior and people revert to their old ways. Ryan has also observed that, as more people are trained, more of these questions are handled through peer-to-peer interaction.

More effective, more efficient

Honeywell believes this format is far more effective. One additional benefit of the move to a multi-tiered approach is a reduction of costs. The firm won't provide the specific costs involved, but the previous training meant two days away from jobs, in addition to travel time (by no means insignificant for a worldwide company like Honeywell). Ryan suggests that a computer-based training module costs approximately $30,000 to $50,000, which can be amortized over a large group.

Still, he notes, "relative to software costs, training costs significantly more." He admits they didn't fully appreciate the true cost of training when they first set their budgets and the cost that needed to be recovered over a number of years. However, he cautions that training is by no means entirely incremental. It was being done before this transition; now some of it is just being done differently.

In addition, these new processes also involved asking people in the organization not previously touched by the technology to change. For example, nearly 200 field engineers around the world now need to go to a Web site to provide information that flows back into the database. Previously, the different offices reported this information through a variety of methods and interfaces-fax, e-mail or Web. Fortunately, for the most part, this change was viewed positively, because Honeywell made sure those affected could see the benefit. "It's not until you start to see how the organization uses the information that it really works," notes Ryan.

They don't have metrics to truly determine the impact of the training component, but Ryan notes that management and the sales teams are using the tool, and peer-to-peer learning is increasing.

To read more articles like this one, visit Peppers and Rogers Group's Web site at

All materials copyright 2002 Peppers and Rogers Group - 1:1 Marketing.

Dig Deeper on CRM strategy and implementation