Transforming a traditional sales force into 21st century partners

The Brief

Maximus designs and delivers customised talent management and leadership development solutions across the J&J Family of Companies: J&J Medical Devices, J&J Pacific, and Janssen Pharmaceuticals.

Australia’s top-performer across many therapeutic areas, Janssen faced a perfect storm of aggressive competitors, demanding customers, and government pricing pressures. Research showed Janssen would only reach its strategic goals by shifting sales behaviour. Customers wanted deeper engagement — proactive interaction, value added services, and information and education.

Our brief was to devise a competency-based career framework that supported optimum account management behaviours for now and the future. We would analyse the whole sales team against it, ensure the right support infrastructure was in place, and develop a program to close competency gaps.

To achieve their strategic vision, Janssen needed to shift the mindset of their entire sales force.


Discovery: Our research clarified the current and desired future state of the salesforce and revealed a team of mature, caring people with something of an old-school sales mindset.

Define and Design: Using sophisticated analysis and global research, Maximus identified the required success drivers. We designed a new account management competency framework that facilitated the necessary move from being transactional sellers to valuable partners. This included six core competencies and 30 related behaviours across four levels. A seventh competency was designed for managers.

Activate: Maximus established seven development centres to evaluate nearly 100 customer-facing staff against the new competencies. Using past performance data and workshop outcomes, we established individual and group baselines, and identified individual strengths and development areas.

Embed: To facilitate feedback, Maximus supported managers with coaching, mentoring, a toolkit, and participant reports. We helped to devise targeted development initiatives and ensured Janssen’s systems, processes, and reporting supported sales transformation.


At the end of project, we shared our research, analysis, insights, and outcomes with Janssen’s senior management through a series of detailed reports and recommendations. As a business, Janssen now has absolute clarity around their current and future state, a comprehensive toolkit for change, and baseline data for future benchmarking.

At an individual level, participants have a clear picture of what great account management will look like in the future and know what they need to do to improve their performance.

After analysing the development centre data, we were able to identify in which core areas the most individuals were operating below expected competency level. After we presented various options that Janssen reviewed and analysed with their teams, they asked us to put together a 12-month capability development strategy around the two priority competencies. We have begun implementing the plan, delivering two modules so far to around 60 of their sales staff.