How Grundfos empowers sales teams with Acadal

Explore how Grundfos’ Danish sales company explores the UN SDGs and make them more tangible with Acadal. Empowering sales to take on new customer dialogues and partnerships based on goals 6 and 13.

Grundfos has one of the world’s most outspoken sustainability leaders in Mads Nipper who tirelessly supports the company’s very foundation of bringing sustainability to the world by developing pump solutions to the world’s water and climate challenges and improve quality of life for people.

Working in a company with a crystal clear strategy, Grundfos’ Danish sales force is now on a journey to transform Grundfos’ strategy into concrete customer activities and discussions regarding the UN sustainable goals – dialogues that lead to additional partnerships and sales.

Lasse Mikkelsen, Sales Director at Grundfos DK, elaborates:

“Our market starts to get more and more knowledgeable about sustainability and using the language of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

As a result, we experience that quite a few customers turn to us with questions to which we do not always have clear cut answers – simply because we ourselves are on a journey. The customer’s keen interest tells us that working closely with and truly understanding their business perspective of sustainability is first and foremost an extremely giving process and secondly essential to stay competitive.

Lasse Mikkelsen, Sales Director at Grundfos

“At the same time, the sales role has changed. Customers are not looking for traditional sales reps any longer. They want consultants and advisors to spar with and therefore we must continue to sell holistic pump solutions but at the same time increase our abilities as a co-creative sales organization.

An ambition like this sets a high bar for helping sales tread a new path of selling and obtaining new abilities that help them navigate cleverly in the UN goals. We already picked our goals – now we need to translate them into something our organization can use to make important and sustainable partnerships with our customers”.

Changing the path of development

Asked how he would typically go about giving the Grundfos sales teams knowledge about changes in the market as important as the sustainability agenda, Lasse Mikkelsen replies:

“Typically, the team leaders would in detail become acquainted with the reason, purpose of potential of the goals, and then introduce this knowledge to their teams – and in very different ways. Most likely, next step would be to continue building knowledge and motivation through a classic workshop, and then hold the reps responsible for using the knowledge in their everyday customer tasks.” 

Lasse continues: “With the sustainability goals, however, we quickly realized that the topic needed a very different approach if we wanted sales truly to understand the potential of the goals and break down the strategy into tangible actions.

So taking a traditional approach, I would probably spend much more of my time motivating sales and do change management to keep a process going”.

Let’s be honest – if people aren’t 100 % involved in examining a subject and in the learning process become confident talking about it – then they won’t use the subject as a lever in customer dialogues. So taking a traditional approach, I would probably spend much more of my time motivating sales and do change management to keep a process going”.

Therefore, we were looking for a better way to motivate sales and develop our challenges – starting with the SDGs.

Grundfos turned to Acadal

Instead of having the leadership develop the process and telling sales how to do it, Grundfos invited the sales team into the process of figuring out the solution.

Grundfos chose three main topics to address – each of them built as a sprint on the Acadal platform. People were free to pick the sprint they found most interesting, as motivation was an important driver.

Every sprint contained the same knowledge concerning the SDG’s, but the objectives of how to process it was different from sprint to sprint.

Knowledge directly from the experts

Grundfos had the sprints especially made for these challenges, with two consulting firms adding specialized knowledge:

Mads Winther from Intenz has been operating the sales space for 25 years and is excited about the cross between solution selling and SDGs. Mads says about the pressure Grundfos experiences from the market: “It’s the new normal. We need to start acting differently in the sales process, and organizations must begin to enable sales through methods like this. That’s what we brought to the sprint: Sales Enablement and the understanding of how we should approach the sales process.”

Lotte Kirkegaard from Kirkegaard Consult is specialized in the SDGs and adds: “Sustainability is a strong competitive advantage today. The companies who enable their organization at all levels within this field will be market leaders in the coming years. Those who don’t will probably not be here in 10 years. My task in this project was adding perspective to the SDGs, helping Grundfos explore the opportunities in using the SDG actively in the sales situations.”

Before setting off with Acadal, Lasse was worried about two things:

Yet another system to implement:

“One of my biggest concerns using Acadal was the thought of yet another system. We continuously implement new systems and tools which on and off create frustrations in our teams. But the Acadal platform is easy to use: it is intuitive from the first click, people were quickly onboarded, and the social aspect highly motivated everyone on the platform. I only heard good things from my people about the platform, and we haven’t had use for any support along the way.”

“The Acadal platform is easy to use: it is intuitive from the first click, people were quickly onboarded, and the social aspect highly motivated everyone”.

Could he motivate his people in the challenge?

“Talking about a UN project can be pretty dry, and I was afraid it would be hard to motivate my people. But that worry was quickly brought to shame. The process created much higher motivation than we usually see when we include our people in development.” says Lasse and continues:

“The management team only followed the process the first week and then we let the dialogues, insights, and ideas flow freely between our salespersons. That deliberate choice of giving them the power has been instrumental to the great results, we have seen, I think.”

The result

The result of the three sprints was 83 ideas on how to implement the UN SDG in the daily sales work and high motivation to get going.

Lasse on the result: “It’s was pretty amazing to see how involved our people were in the process and the energy they brought to solve it.

I’ve now got a buffet of quick-wins and ambitious projects, all generated by our people. So whenever we will work with one of the initiatives, the approach from sales will be positive and supporting – with no push back, because it is their ideas that will help us create our market place of tomorrow. They have taken ownership already.

Here is one of the ideas that the team brought forward to help customers with the challenge of CO2.

Picking the best ideas for execution

“A neat feature with Acadal is that you vote on the ideas that are being put forward so that you can see which ideas are most popular in the team, but not who has actually posed the ideas. So, you have your eyes on the idea – not on the person who suggested it. Along with that, we quickly got the ideas mapped out by rating impact and effort, creating a matrix of which ideas to start with.”

So, going from the development phase into execution is pretty straight forward. I cherry-pick the best ideas in line with our strategy, and my team is motivated. And then you need to give them room to execute.” says Lasse before mentioning his perhaps most important takeaway:

“What I’m most impressed by is that we generated massive interest in something that was out of scope to most of the employees. Now, we discuss the goals with great energy – without the management team leading the change. Our people did that.”

About Grundfos

Grundfos is the world’s largest pump company with an market share of approximately 50%. In 2019, the Danish owned giant had a revenue of almost 4 billion USD. The company is present in more than 45 countries and employs more than 19.000 in 80 companies. 


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