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AMA Corporate Learning Solutions Success Story:

The Challenge

The Home Depot, Inc., is the world’s largest home improvement retailer and the second largest retailer in the United States. Both do-it-yourselfers and contractors shop at The Home Depot, but contractors have represented a smaller percentage of sales until now.

Home Depot logo.

Keith Vos, Home Depot’s Pro Implementation Manager, said, "Our company has found that many do-it-yourselfer’s are fast becoming do-it-for-me’s. They may not have the time to do the work themselves but are able to pay someone else to complete the work.” Consequently, said Vos, “The Home Depot is now aggressively pursuing the professional contractor along with the do-it-yourselfer."

Experienced in outside sales management, Vos knew that there were big benefits from selling to contractors, but he also knew that it required training for those who until then handled the needs of contractors only when they came into a Home Depot store. As Vos explained, "Our sales people need to go out in the field to achieve the kind of sales we forecast."

Needed were new selling skills, but also greater time management, communication and relationship-building skills. Vos said, "A contractor typically buys the majority of products he needs from a supplier based on trust. They trust the quality of the material, they trust that the product will be delivered on time and they trust that it will be delivered in the quantities needed. To build that kind of trust," Vos explained, "you need to spend time building the business relationship. And, you need to earn the right to expect more business with your customer."

AMA Solution

Vos’s training solution is based on the assumption that "20% of the salesperson’s time should be spent inside the stores monitoring daily operations, so he or she has the confidence the store can execute great customer service with every order placed. The remaining 80% of the salesperson’s time should be spent selling outside the orange box."

To prepare the store-based associates for their expanded responsibility, Vos, AMA’s local Regional Director and AMA’s facilitator met to customize a three-day training program that brought together fundamental outside selling skills like connecting with the customer, interpersonal, decision making, qualifying/questioning skills, plus time management tips required for success. AMA provided two days of instruction. Vos took charge on the third day, role modeling the behavior The Home Depot expects of its outside sales personnel, as well as addressing real-world situations that participants are likely to encounter and how to handle them.

Real-World Results

Post-training anecdotes from attendees demonstrate their positive response to the program. They relate stories about sales roadblocks that have arisen in the field and how these issues had been covered in the program and consequently how they are prepared to deal with them in the future. Vos noted, "We white board those issues to make sure we cover them during the class. The AMA instructor really customizes the class to the participants' needs." In Vos’s opinion, that explains the feedback from a high percentage of attendees on their evaluation sheets: "The best sales training I've ever experienced."