Revenue: Not available
Employees: 1,700

Client Challenge

Leybold’s vacuum technologies serve a diverse range of applications such as food and beverage processing and packaging, advanced medical device systems, and complex R&D projects (e.g., a visionary hyperloop program that will revolutionize transcontinental travel).

Leybold was looking to further its position as a pioneer of vacuum technology and emphasize the value of its expertise that customers weren’t fully appreciating or hadn’t yet recognized a need for. The challenge lay in the complexity of the hundreds of technical applications and the size of the addressable markets. The organization faced the question of how to upskill the sales population to have insight-led conversations that could be scaled across different sectors and stakeholders and move away from being focused solely on product benefits and price.

To do so, the team at Leybold focused on upskilling its multidisciplined team of sales engineers, application engineers, and service support staff to adopt Challenger sales skills. They engaged Challenger, the sales performance specialists, to run a nine-month Challenger training program.


Challenger helped Leybold by focusing on the four key Challenger skills: teaching for differentiation, tailoring for resonance, taking control, and building constructive tension. The program was broken into four stages over nine months, applying learning and development and change management best practices to drive effective behavioral change.

Stage 1: The leadership teams from sales, product, marketing, and service held a critical awareness day where the program was announced and The Challenger Sale concepts were introduced in detail to set the scene for the stages to follow. The Leadership team attended a “Leading Challenger Change” one-day leadership session to set the vision, objectives, and metrics for the program.

Stage 2: The frontline sales team underwent a six-week pre-workshop preparation phase using the Challenger online portal to ensure sellers would enter the workshops with the right mindset and deals and accounts to work on.

Stage 3: The frontline team, managers, and leaders took part in a two-day “Challenge Yourself” workshop based around four modules: teach, tailor, take control, and constructive tension. Participants applied these concepts to stuck deals and also built commercial teaching messages to have disruptive conversations.

Stage 4: After the workshops, a 90-day application program was launched using online reinforcement tools, teleconferences, and an internally certified trainer to track progress and provide ongoing support.


Leybold redefined the nature of its conversations, educating customers on processes and technologies that were costing them more money than previously thought.

By changing the way in which they approach customer conversations, Leybold’s customer center in North America was able to drive process improvements in labs and manufacturing facilities by highlighting the underappreciated risks created by overfocusing on cost and resisting the migration to new, innovative technologies. As a result, Leybold not only increased revenue but also turned sales reps into trusted technology advisors.

Three months following the rollout of Challenger, a survey was launched to measure the results

  • Participants attributed $12.5 million in closed and potential contract value to the application of the new skills. 
  • Approximately 80% of participants agreed that Challenger improved their conversations with customers and that customers’ reactions to the different types of conversation were positive.


 “Our team has built the skills needed to drive change, present themselves as value-added partners and close larger sales. The Challenger program has given them the confidence and framework to deliver our differentiated expertise at every customer touchpoint.”

Carl Brockmeyer, General Manager, Leybold USA

Before Challenger

  • Leybold offers a wide range of advanced vacuum solutions for use in manufacturing and analytical processes as well as for research purposes. We have an extensive range of vacuum products.

After Challenger

  • Many are not aware that by focusing on reducing expenditure, they are actually wasting millions of dollars in production costs by using outdated vacuum technology. Operating in this manner leads to systems having more downtime, increased inefficiencies, and overall lower performance. A simple ROI analysis is no longer the way to justify new investments.