IW in Bangkok: Bootcamp… SUCCESS!

For the past four Januarys, IW have hopped out to South-East Asia to deliver our Sales Bootcamp for Jardine Schindler Group (JSG). This January was no different.

Bootcamp is an intense 7-day sales training programme aimed at those who have recently joined the team. This time we had participants flying in from all over the region – Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia (to name just some) – to take part. The reputation of IW’s Sales Bootcamp is pretty humbling. Each year we have sales people pushing to take part and feel the buzz that previous alumni have felt.

To be honest, I’m not sure they quite knew what they were getting themselves into. And as it was my first IW Sales Bootcamp, I didn’t know either.

After flying 6000 miles across the world…

Here’s where I arrived. A beautiful complex just on the outskirts of Bangkok.

I luckily had a few days to get over the jet-lag and take in some culture (as is the IW way!) and then Nathan arrived to help me set up. We’ve been working together for a while on a lot of Schindler projects, but this was the first time we’d be co-facilitating. Both being quite organised, we had everything ready to go in a flash and time for a quick swim (for Nathan) or read by the pool (for me) as the participants started to arrive.

Just as if you’re in the military…

Day 1 opened with a welcome and introduction to the delivery team. Nathan and I were lucky to have a few of the Schindler team alongside us – Jonathan, Berni, Laura and, of course, Uncle Ma. We led the participants through a run-down of how most days would go. Nathan is an ex-army man, so I left all the military references to him. We’re not joking when we call it a bootcamp –  it’s incredibly regimented, the days are long and repetition is the order of the day. But as you can see, there was definitely no mud involved…

Here’s what they signed themselves up for:

  • 7am – Morning exercise
  • Mornings – Learning and role-play
  • Afternoons – More role-play
  • Evenings – Homework and Networking

If you are late, or miss anything, the price is an ever-compounding number of push-ups.

Pretty full-on for 7 days straight, right? That’s the bootcamp way.

Role-Plays and Susan’s Circuits

Each of the next 5 days followed like this. There was a lot of content to go through, which we primarily looked at in the mornings, and was always followed by role-play. I thoroughly enjoyed channeling my inner Oscar-winner and let my acting skills run loose in the role-plays. You see, getting sales right is all about relationships and rapport, and it was our job to make sure the participants got to sample a full range of client personalities. Playing a client is pretty fun, (especially when you’re the client who just got a parking fine on the way to a meeting… the role-playing sales person was not ready for that!), and our participants did so well at dealing with our difficulties through constant practice. The more they practiced the techniques, the easier they became habits, and the more they could focus on developing other parts of their role. Simples.

Another key part of their role is discipline – both in professional and personal life. Hence, our morning exercises. Now, I am not a morning exercise person. Truly. But there was something about waking up with the team to focus together that just got me going and energised for the day. I *hope* it was the same for them too…

Here’s a sneak peak of my favourite exercise class, informally known as Susan’s Circuits.

I’m available to hire for breakfast classes, or an energy fix at lunch time 😉


What struck me the most throughout the course is the enthusiasm and drive that the participants showed. What we were doing was tough. It takes a lot of resilience to keep trying and practicing the techniques, especially when the trainers choose to be ‘mean customers’ in role-play exercises. They all just kept picking themselves back up again. It was incredible.

We had a saying throughout the course. If someone shouted ‘bootcamp’, everyone else would shout ‘SUCCESS!’. At the beginning I was skeptical, but even after one day I could see how much the team morale and drive for success helped to keep them all going.

Assessment day arrived on day 7 and it was the most intense of them all. Each participant had four sales meetings to prepare for and execute. If they didn’t get a sale, they didn’t pass. No pressure.

Being only one of the ‘prospective clients’, I had 199 missed calls from the sales reps over the space of two hours trying to get an opening meeting with me. If that’s not dedication, then I don’t know what is. I had six candidates who successfully convinced me to give them a spot, and I ended up buying from them all. The calibre was just excellent. They passed, and were ready to start selling for real.

Celebration Galas and Photoshoots

Now, it wasn’t all hard work and no play. We did take the opportunity to spend some time over the week as group in the local area and try some specialties together. Our Thai participants loved to pick out the best food – and we loved them for their incredible choices.

Assessment day coincided with the JSG Regional Sales Awards Gala Dinner, which meant all the new Bootcamp graduates could enjoy a big bang after such a fierce week of work. It was a great celebration of success with 8 out of the 11 top sales people across the region being Bootcamp alumni. (Internal cheer for IW – woo!)

The final goodbye to Bootcamp, our participants and to Bangkok was with a mass of glasses clinking, dancing and ‘we have to get a photo!’ photoshoots. Safe to say it was one of my favourite IW projects to date. I can feel the buzz all alumni talk about. I’ve already signed myself up to deliver next year.

Bootcamp… SUCCESS!