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Itec Connect

The Outcome:

A transformed sales operation where the focus has moved to an Account Management model enabling the company to grow its business through a process of cross and up-selling to its substantial base of satisfied customers while still adding new customers.

“I just wanted to write formally to thank you for delivery of a first class project. In every step you have been a pleasure to work with and have delivered on everything you offered – and more.” Nick Orme, Chief Executive, Itec Connect

The Challenge

Two main factors led Itec to consider a change of direction in its go-to-market approach. Firstly, the company had grown a substantial and very satisfied customer base from its long established sophisticated Managed Print services and Document Capture & Workflow solutions and realised they needed to stay ahead of the game. Secondly the company had recently invested in another organisation that provides a range of Cloud based IT solutions which gives Itec a whole new range of services and solutions that it can offer its customers. Combining these two factors led to the conclusion that the selling model needed to be re-engineered to focus more on account management; enabling the better servicing of customers with established services while also taking the opportunity to offer new and different solutions to those same customers.

The Performative Solution

We undertook the design and delivery of an internal Sales Academy for Itec to recruit and train a cadre of new Account Managers. Before commencing the project we completed a process of “Discovery” using the Performative Sales Maturity Assessment as a foundation. The output from the discovery phase informed the design of the Academy which was developed using the established Performative Academy Framework.

Recruitment of Account Managers

The Account Managers would be fulfilling a new role, focused on the existing customer base. It was an ideal opportunity to bring in new talent and create opportunity for internal candidates to convert to sales. To acquire a new team of 12 required:

  • Sourcing of candidates both externally and from internal transfers
  • Initial filtering and interviews before passing selected candidates to customer for interview
  • Conduct and analysis of the results of an on-line sales capability assessment
  • Design and delivery of a comprehensive assessment process leading to the selection of the final 12 successful candidates who were then offered positions.

Product Manuals – Sales Enablement material

With a broader range of product and service offerings to take to market Itec recognised the need to create collateral to provide a consistent sales and customer oriented resource to support the selling efforts of the new account managers and existing sales staff.

The challenge here was to turn technical excellence into commercial superiority and equip the account managers with effective sales enablement tools.

The subject matter experts knew their products inside out, but they were mainly used to conversing with their technical counterparts. They worked in virtual silos and thus were likely to miss opportunities to cross-sell the offerings of their new colleagues.

The first job was to crystallise the Chief Executive’s vision of the documents into useable templates which provided both structure and guidance on the aims of the content of each section.

The authors were then brought together for an intense 4-day workshop to flesh out the templates. Performative provided briefings for the authors to orient their thinking in terms of Sales and Customer perspective, use of language, and consistency of style.

As the documents took shape, Performative provided collaborators and reviewers for key sections to influence the content style and consistency of terminology across the document set, challenging technical phraseology to replace it with jargon free information to help customers differentiate the Itec offering from that of other suppliers and competitors.

After the initial drafts were produced during the workshops, Performative then took on the role of editor to maintain the sales/customer orientation and consistency within and between the documents, prior to their release to the Itec staff.

On-boarding and induction

Itec already had an established induction programme focused on its recruitment of technical apprentices, but it was not suited to the task of introducing the cadre of new account managers to the wider organisation. Hence we:

  • Designed comprehensive on-boarding and induction programmes for delivery primarily by the customer’s management team
  • Undertook delivery of sales related aspects of the induction programme.

Comprehensive account management and sales L&D programme

Custom designed and delivered by Performative specifically to meet the needs of Itec and the planned mode of operation of the account managers. Some highlights of the training included:

  • Teaching the principles of “Empathy Styles” selling, psychology and body language
  • Creation of a structured account management methodology including research and profiling techniques
  • Sales skills such as; the effective use of the telephone, making appointments, conducting first meetings and delivering presentations
  • Territory, account and deal planning processes including qualification and quantification
  • Relationship management
  • Sales pipeline and forecasting process
  • In addition to the classroom activities we also undertook one-on-one coaching for the account managers at several points during the programme.

Following the training programme, periods of self-study and practical work the account managers went through a process of accreditation which included written and practical examinations of the knowledge they had acquired. We designed and adjudicated all some of the exams. All passed the first level accreditation and they moved into the full role of working with their portfolio of customers. Further accreditation levels will be undertaken later.

Additional activities

In support of the Chief Executive, as he moulded the organisation into its new identity and culture, we provided:

  • Initial design of the compensation scheme for the Account Managers
  • Design of the Account Management process and responsibilities
  • Design of the Account Managers’ reporting process
  • Design and delivery of the support and coaching programme for the Director of Account Management

Following successful completion of the main programme we continue to provide reactive and pro-active support as required.

Are you planning to grow your revenue?

Most businesses that we work with are trying to expand to enjoy the increased opportunities offered by the recovering economy. However, most also report consistent challenges with; finding enough new and repeat business, missed targets, unreliable sales forecasts and margins being eroded by discounting.  The answer that many seek is to expand the sales team but further challenges come in the form of; difficulty in finding good candidates, getting the good ones to join and then retaining them long enough to get a RoI on the recruitment, induction and training costs.

A recent article from Alinean reinforces the cost and delay factors mentioned in our April Newsletter . The article cites information from CSO Insights which said most salespeople take ten or more months to become fully productive.  The same article quoted Forrester as saying it can take as much as 36 months in certain industries.  This, despite the fact that most new sales people are hired from similar industries.

Some turn to technology in the hope that it will make sales people unnecessary.  This can work in some businesses with straight forward propositions and shorter selling cycles but for most businesses sales people are still an essential part of the way they find and win new customers and new business.

So, if you need sales people, but cannot find enough well qualified capable people what will you do?

Internal Sales Academies – an answer to; “where have all the great sales people gone?”

We would suggest if you cannot find them; grow your own – this is precisely what our tailored Sales Academy is designed to deliver.  Our approach will also shorten the time required for new recruits to become fully productive.

Read more …

Sales Led Revenue Growth

If you expect your sales team to drive growth, perhaps you should ponder the latest sales research to see how your plans might be impacted?

  • Only 14% of salespeople are professionally trained – in another 10 years this figure could be as low as 5%.  Two thirds of sales reps miss their quota; is there any correlation?
  • A new sales recruit can cost £80,000 [1] a year in sales support costs alone.
  • A likely timescale to allow for a new sales recruit to become fully productive is 10 months or more [2] , however if you’re in industries such as technology, medical solutions and complex business services you can reckon on up to 36 months to effectiveness [3] even if they come from a similar industry.
  • Less than half of sales reps believe in their own pipeline predictions; could this be attributable to lack of objective criteria, structured process, or meaningful reporting?
  • The optimum level of coaching for reps who are struggling to achieve their targets is 3-5 hrs per month [4] but on average most receive less than 2 hrs.

So what can these figures tell you, apart from the need to plan well to avoid the cost of failure?

This is not just about recruitment or training , it needs a fresh view and a complete change to the established way of doing things.  Your people may have the knowledge to put the necessary change programme in place but, it will put severe additional load on their management of day to day business. Our academy solutions are designed to support you in your growth plans by delivering an outsourced resource integrating your existing successful process into a seamless service:

  • Tailored recruitment to reflect the nuances of your culture, industry, market, brand, customer, etc.
  • A comprehensive induction programme to ensure the new recruits become an integral part of your organisation so they can deliver your proposition, your way to your customers.
  • Basic and advanced (soft and hard) skills learning and development to create a customer centric, commercially aware, adaptable sales force.
  • Coaching and mentoring to embed the learnings through real world examples.
  • Development and support of the sales leaders so they can in turn leverage and enhance the productivity of the newly trained sales force, and ascertain leading indicators for a reliable pipeline forecast.
Basic scope of an academy

Basic scope of an academy

Once the academy solution has been successfully piloted it can be brought back in-house or remain (partially) outsourced according to your on-going needs.

Request a call back to explore how our tailored Sales Academy solution can help you grow your revenue and margin.

1 Qvidian quoted $135.000
2 CSO Insights
3 Forrester

Improving Sales Force productivity during a renewal or growth phase

As the economic turn around is allowing companies to think about growth once more, the same old challenges of growing and maintain an effective sales and selling operation are still there to haunt you. The improvement in the jobs market may well increase your staff churn which makes the job of creating a stable or expanding sales and selling platform even harder.

  • Do you foresee your growth plans being limited by the capacity of your sales force to keep pace?
    No, really!?
  • Is dealing with churn in the sales force distracting you from achieving your business goals?
  • Do new recruits resist the switch to selling “your way”? Are you showing them your way
  • Are you getting payback on budget and time spent training the sales team?

New intake intake cannot become your staff, working your way, unless you put in the effort to develop consistent selling and sales management skills, closely aligned with your operational environment, for all customer-facing staff.  An essential foundation for this to be successful will come from the introduction of your own sales and selling methodology and associated processes.

The essential components in the creation of a successful sales team are; a well executed recruitment & selection process, thorough induction/on-boarding process, commitment to on-going development based on systematic training supported by regular coaching, and committed sales leadership that recognises its primary responsibility is to help their direct reports to perform more effectively with continuous improvement being the driving principle. The final components that help to ensure success are a fully integrated sales & selling process, and a customer centric proposition.

If Sales isn’t your primary strength our Sales Academy offerings are designed to equip you and your company to recruit, train and develop a sales force with professional selling and sales management skills capable of powering your growth plans. For companies with an established sales capability the Academy can provide new and original ideas and approaches to super charge what you already have.

Drawing on talent from either raw recruits, experienced sales people from other industries, or those who wish to be cross-trained into sales from other disciplines, the service covers the complete sales organisation from basic telesales through to senior account managers, sales managers and directors.

Basic Scope of an Academy

Delivered initially as an outsourced service, you have the option to take the functioning academy model in-house at an appropriate future date or continue to use us to provide the service.

“I just wanted to write formally to thank you for delivery of a first class project. In every step you have been a pleasure to work with and have delivered on everything you offered – and more.” June 2015

Let our experts help you through the challenges of recruiting, inducting/on-boarding and developing your ever evolving sales force.

Contact us now to discuss how we can help

People performance improvement – “getting the biggest bang for your buck”

Or should it be “getting the biggest quota for your quid”?

Anyway, within any normal selling operation a typical performance mix would see 20% of the team routinely averaging 120% of the target, 60% averaging 80% of target and the other 20% well under at 60% or less of target and perhaps being considered for the exit door. So, if you were going to invest in some time and money to help improve performance where should you focus your efforts and what should you do – where and how can you get the best return in terms of performance improvement?

The answer might seem obvious; sack the under-performers, leave the middle/average performers alone as they are “doing OK” and focus on the top performers as you cannot afford to lose them so they need to be spoilt!

Consider this:

  • If the top performers are exceeding target by 20% they are probably close to capacity and they are demonstrating that they already know how to do the job effectively. Also as they are only 20% of the workforce an improvement of say 10% would only provide a 2% improvement across the whole company. So this is not the first place to consider.
  • What about the bottom 20%? Before making any decision about terminating their employment you need to consider whether they have been recruited, trained and coached properly. If they are good people, apparently right for the job, but not performing then you need to properly explore the issues before deciding what to do. If there are issues with the way you recruit, induct and support new people you need to fix that before recruiting anyone else. So, for this group we suggest:
    • Potentially half may simply be wrong for the job so assigning them to a role which plays to their strengths or, as a last resort termination, is probably the best option for all concerned.
    • Those that you identify as being right for the job, but who have been let down by your systems, deserve some special treatment to turn them around. This will be a win-win for you and them.

If the performance of half this group can be improved by as much as 30% this would amount to just 3% across the company. So, while the remedial work does need to be done, as a matter of urgency, this group will not provide an immediate or huge boost in overall company performance.

  • So, what about the middle 60% who are averaging 80% target achievement? Performance suggests they are generally good at the job and they seem to have found their way around any obstacles created by your systems. Therefore they should respond well to some focused effort to help them improve their performance. The great news is that a 20% improvement in target performance in this group will amount to almost 12% improvement across the company so the return is good and should be achieved quickly.

Because the middle group will give the quickest return, the increased margin they contribute will quickly grow to fund the whole improvement programme. For a team of 10 people targeted to achieve £1.0m margin in a year but only achieving £840k the potential improvement gain is at least £160k. This will cover the cost of the performance improvement programme, leaving a significant amount of change that will improve the bottom line. Perhaps of greater value is the fact that you will now have a higher performing team who will deliver more this year, next year and on into the future.

Recommended approach

  • Review the whole team to establish your top, middle and bottom performers.
  • Analyse your process for recruiting, inducting, training and managing people and act to fix problems you find before bringing any more new people on board.
  • Now you must remediate issues with existing people created by problems identified in the review and analysis stages:
    • For the bottom group decide if anyone needs to go or whether a restructure of your selling team and adjusting their role in your business might be a more productive way forward. For the remainder, put them through an intense programme designed to remediate issues caused by your previous approaches. This may involve a process of “re-recruitment”, revisiting the induction and training (both soft and hard skills) followed by a period of focused coaching. You could create a “boot camp” to provide the focused coaching until the sales people have demonstrated they are performing at a higher level. Use of external agents for the boot camp may allow unbiased discussions and reveal additional opportunities for performance improvement. This will also leave your own Sales and HR managers free to do their day jobs.
    • For the top group, decide on an individual basis whether any additional development would be beneficial. They will also benefit from any improvements in your systems arising from the review and analysis stages.
    • The middle group will require similar attention to the people that you retain from the bottom group. They probably won’t require the depth of attention that the bottom group will need but you will still need to revisit issues that have arisen from poor recruitment, induction or training and inadequate management and coaching. It may prove that the boot camp approach is right for this middle group meanwhile there are development benefits to be gained from mixing people from the two groups.

At the end of the process you want to have one integrated sales team so a part of the process will involve some team building activities that are applied to the whole team. Although you will have identified the top, middle and bottom performers through this process such terms should not be used openly as this will make the job of creating one integrated team harder to achieve.

To bring this together we would recommend the creation of an internal Sales Academy which will be the umbrella function for; improved recruitment, better induction, meaningful training and development, and powerful management and coaching.  By creating a series of “qualifying” steps you can offer sales people a career ladder that sees them develop from basic sales through, intermediate and senior levels as well as a stream that will identify and develop sales managers for the future.  Your internal Sales Academy will become a vehicle for staff development and will provide outcomes that people will aspire to achieve, all of which will make them more effective ambassadors and sales people for your company.

Developing professional selling and sales management skills for all your customer facing staff

Developing your sales team

Are you getting value from resources spent on training the sales team?

Kevin Young, General Manager EMEA, Skillsoft (April 2011 article “Optimising Staff Training” on suggests that for many organisations their training programme delivers little long-term value to the business – simply because employees fail to apply what they’ve learnt in a classroom environment to their daily role, whereas the potential is there for “an individual’s productivity levels to increase by eight per cent if they can apply their training to their role. That equates to 160 hours of additional output, or roughly 20 days per year”.

We wholeheartedly agree with this assessment so we design and deliver sales and sales management training totally in the context of its application, so it is relevant, it sticks, and it delivers ROI.

  • We induct staff to be your staff.
  • We educate your team to sell with ROI in mind, and support them with appropriate tools to help them compete more effectively.
  • We provide education and training programmes covering both processes and selling skills for the full sales cycle.
  • We hone their negotiating skills; with an increase in the numbers of professional buyers, ensuring that your team employs the appropriate techniques and tactics from the very start of the sales cycle, can make the difference between winning or losing.
  • We educate your technical and field staff to be more sales aware; to support your company’s selling activity in all accounts; to help you to leverage more business from existing and new customers.

To enable you to focus on your core skills, we provide the expert assistance necessary to ensure you have the sales team appropriate for taking your business to market.

“The well prepared case studies made the negotiation skills training really come to life and made people stop and think about what they are actually doing. The key to any successful training is; Did they use it and did they gain benefit from it? We certainly did. I am convinced that we successfully negotiated our way through some very tricky issues since and the way we approached them was heavily influenced by the Performative training. “

Contact us to discuss your training needs.

Wadenhoe House

The Outcome:

This was very successful measured in terms of increased levels of business from existing customers, an increase in the number of new customers and a consistent increase in the overall level of bookings.  In the area of weddings we had a phenomenal success with bookings more than doubling between 2002 and 2003 and as we start a new year, I am confident this trend will continue.”

“I have no hesitation in recommending Performative to any other organisation seeking a solution to business and/or sales performance issues.”    MD, Wadenhoe House

The Challenge

Wadenhoe House is a magnificent Jacobean manor house in the rolling Northamptonshire countryside.  It is recognised as offering the highest levels of residential and non-residential conference, training and special occasion facilities to meet the needs of the most demanding clients.  The Wadenhoe House management team approached Performative to help bring about long-term improvement in the performance of the business.

The Performative Solution

Performative worked with the Wadenhoe House team over a two year period to achieve improvement in a number of areas, the key ones being:

  • Using the Market Focus Review process, implementation of a dramatically reduced prospect database to enable much more focused selling effort to get the best return.
  • Creation of a selling model specifically tailored to the Wadenhoe House business.  This gave the sales team tools and processes to support all aspects of their selling activities.
  • Introduction of tools for the Managing Director to easily manage the process and, in particular, the sales pipeline.
  • Creation of a proper selling team based partly on existing staff and partly on a new recruit.  In particular, Performative helped identify the talent in one existing team member, who then became the team leader.
  • Introduction of the concept of meeting prospects as well as talking to them on the telephone. This was unusual in the venue business and was acknowledged to be one of the reasons behind subsequent improved performance especially in the weddings area of the business.
  • Development of a customised training and development programme covering; general selling principles, use of the telephone, handling objections, negotiating and closing.  This brought all the other work together and contributed to a significant improvement in confidence and morale across the whole team.
  • Provision of a telephone support service to coach through individual sales negotiations and any general sales or business issues.