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Fresh momentum for Sales Performance International

Fresh momentum for Sales Performance International

In October 2017, Kartesia closed a €15 million investment in a unitranche facility to finance the management buyout (MBO) of Sales Performance International (SPI). This concluded an intense collaboration between Kartesia and SPI’s management in which Kartesia’s comprehensive solution and reliability made all the difference.

With an eye to the future, SPI’s managers take their destiny in hand

Founded in 1988 by Keith Eades, Sales Performance International (SPI) has successfully positioned itself as a global leader in sales performance improvement. Based in Brussels, Charlotte (North Carolina), London, Beijing and Shanghai, the company has assisted over a million sales and management professionals in 50 countries and 14 languages.

Jean Diercxsens, Investment Manager at Kartesia points out: “SPI’s methodology is known and recognised worldwide”. The market on which SPI is positioned is evolving. More and more investment is needed in areas such as research into performance-driven best practice sales skills and behaviours whereas new IT solutions and collaboration modes allow to deliver mobile training, coaching and tools.

“The company needed to get some fresh momentum”, continues Jean, “and the founder, who wanted to step back, was looking for a transition solution”. Upon management’s initiative, a management buyout emerged as the best solution for all parties.

To organise the transition and provide SPI with the momentum needed to expand, the company set out to find a partner that could help the management team take over the reins while also supporting the firm’s development.

Kartesia, SPI’s sole talking partner

Kartesia first met with Jurgen Heyman, the new CEO of SPI in May 2017. “Jurgen explained his project and we talked about our vision for the deal. The fit was immediate”, Jean recalls. It didn’t take long for Kartesia and the management team to find common ground, and it was agreed that management would deal exclusively with Kartesia throughout the deal.

Kartesia tailored a comprehensive solution alongside the re-investment of management, fostering deal certainty to management and the seller. “We worked hand in hand with management to strike a deal with the sellers and agreed on a governance structure to protect Kartesia’s interests while providing management with the independence needed to implement the strategy that we define together.” SPI’s people were won over by this effective collaborative approach. “Our collaboration with Kartesia will allow us to invest in specific innovation strategies aimed at boosting our growth and expanding our global market share”, explains Jurgen Heyman, former chief of global operations and the new CEO of SPI.

“We believe that the company has development potential”, explains Jean, citing four key strengths. First, a seasoned management team with a strong track record. Second, recognized intellectual property that can be tailored to customer’s needs in order to maximize impact and the client’s return on investment. Third, SPI’s unrivalled capability to delivery high quality trainings to large populations of sales representatives across continents. “SPI’s workshops have consistently strong net promoter scores, and all the customers that we have talked to are satisfied and willing to continue working with SPI”, says Jean. Fourth, the new subscription-based training platform SPI-1 provides customers with a unified platform to access bespoke tools, methodologies and training content, allowing for continuous sales performance improvement and measurement.”

Flexibility, understanding and reliability: Kartesia’s expertise

According to Laurent Bouvier, Managing Partner of Kartesia in charge of the transaction, success in this deal hinges on three crucial points. First, Kartesia’s ability to be flexible enough to provide a solution for all levels of the ownership structure. Second, Kartesia’s philosophy of understanding the transaction situation coupled with the future business needs to identify the best way of adding value. And third, the unshakeable trust that SPI’s management and Kartesia have in each other to make steady progress towards the same objective. “We know that the management team is perfectly capable of running the company independently. Equally, we are their trusted partner. They know that we will stand by our word and that they can count on us.”


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