Sales transformation with FLOWSPARKS

Alken-Maes officially saw the light of day in 1988, as a result of the merger of the Maes and Cristal Alken breweries. But the rich history of both breweries dates all the way back to the 1880s. In 1928, Cristal brewed the first Belgian Pilsner beer. And since then, the beer portfolio and the reputation of the breweries have only increased thanks to successes such as Ciney, Grimbergen, Hapkin, Affligem, Desperados, Mort Subite, etc.

Alken-Maes has been part of the HEINEKEN Company since 2008. Today, the three breweries of Alken-Maes (in Alken, Opwijk and Kobbegem) employ no fewer than 620 passionate beer lovers.

Reorganising sales

With pressure on margins – even before corona – and a growing need to organise itself more efficiently around the rapidly changing customer needs, Alken-Maes decided to take a critical look at the ‘Out of Home’ sales organisation. ‘We had to organise teams more efficiently, respond to customer needs more effectively and prepare for the future,’ explains Jana Hindryckx, HR Business Partner Commerce & Support at Alken-Maes.

On top of this, COVID-19 has hit Alken-Maes hard in the hospitality sector and has only intensified the need for change. After all, the brewery supplies restaurants, cafés, bars, festivals, sports competitions, and the like, all of which have been closed or cancelled for over a year. ‘This context made the need for an ‘Out of Home 2.0’ organisation clear; not only to emerge from this health crisis but also to achieve sustainable customer growth. This required a way of working (and working together); roles and responsibilities were reviewed and tools & data insights were optimised. In other words, there was a need for reskilling and upskilling of our sales & customer service teams,’ Jana Hindryckx says.


The transformation of sales and the quest for an efficient and user-friendly tool to onboard people in their changed role brought Alken-Maes to FLOWSPARKS. ‘The tool is not only attractive and easy to use. The great advantage of FLOWSPARKS is also that it puts responsibility for content creation and content updates on the business itself.’ According to Jana Hindryckx, that’s exactly where it should be: with the content experts.

At Alken-Maes, one person is responsible for Talent & Learning and Jana Hindryckx offers support as a business partner. This makes it clear why efficiency is a must. Because FLOWSPARKS is so user-friendly, pretty much anyone can create content. ‘And we as HR/Talent development specialists then have time to do what we have to do: set up the learning culture and offer the tools and inspiration to enable knowledge sharing.’

FLOWSPARKS in practice

Naturally, HEINEKEN Company already had an LMS before the arrival of FLOWSPARKS, also used by Alken-Maes. That’s why it sees FLOWSPARKS as a content authoring tool, which is of course perfectly integrated with their LMS.


Modular and blended learning

In an initial phase, needs and priorities for the Out of Home team were mapped out. What does the team need to tackle things more efficiently when the hospitality industry opens its doors again? What are the priorities in the first few months after reopening? And what will they be in the longer term?

Once that was clear, Alken-Maes was able to start developing a learning path for his salespeople within FLOWSPARKS. Combining modular learning paths in a blended learning environment, different learning forms such as Q&As with content specialists, game elements, videos, etc., and ensuring that all these elements mesh nicely with one another.


Subject matter expert

To build a learning path like this, you naturally need content, and that is found in the business itself. For that reason, 20 or so people were trained to become subject matter experts (SMEs) who have to understand the real sales needs.

The starting point for them is the question of what a salesperson has to know to do his or her job well and how they create content that allows sales to acquire this knowledge. This is extra work for them – among other things because the subject matter experts are responsible for the follow-up after the training sessions – but there is above all a great deal of satisfaction.

‘The SMEs usually see very quickly what they gain by sharing their knowledge. For example, they don’t get asked the same questions by their colleagues so often, they see that people no longer make the same mistakes… ultimately, this leads to satisfied customers,’ Jana Hindryckx says.

Quote icon

Get started quickly

FLOWSPARKS is learned very quickly, without much need for technical or didactic knowledge. The latter is as it were already incorporated in FLOWSPARKS itself in the many templates, each of which serves different learning styles and objective.


Quickly learned

After a few review rounds with the subject matter expert in question and the participant, they were ready at Alken-Maes to launch their learning path in FLOWSPARKS. ‘We are still in the full delivery phase, but we are now launching a new module every week,’ says Jana Hindryckx.

FLOWSPARKS is learned very quickly, without much need for technical or didactic knowledge. The latter is as it were already incorporated in FLOWSPARKS itself in the many templates, each of which serves different learning styles and objectives,’ Jana Hindryckx says.


On the job learning

Alken-Maes wants to deploy FLOWSPARKS as a tool for on-the-job learning. Their salespeople are on the road during 90% of their working hours (in non-corona times). It is therefore particularly convenient that FLOWSPARKS works perfectly on all mobile devices.

‘Our salespeople now get the information they need at the moment they need it. After all, what is the point of a five-day training course in February if the hospitality industry is only allowed to get back up and running in June? And by then, what will people still remember from that training course?’


Get in the FLOW with Alken-Maes

Jana from Alken-Maes was one of the guest speakers during the webinar Get in the FLOW. Are you looking for a solution to support corporate change? Or are curious to find out how you can involve the business by creating e-Learning? Then you don’t want to miss this! Get access to the webinar page and get inspired to get started yourself.

Read more inspiring cases