If your customers are slow to make decisions and your pipeline forecast is forever moving, we can help you.
If your sales force are submitting bids with a low uptake so you feel you are just providing free consultancy, we can help you.
Markets are changing and customers have more opportunities for research before they buy, consequently the sales force has different challenges in order to engage with customers. Gaining insight into your Customer’s world and thereby understanding how you can deliver greater value than your competitors can be key to how you approach your target market.
We have helped companies in various sectors re-focus their propositions and markets for greater customer engagement, leading to more new and extension business. This also assisted the sales management to obtain more reliable forecasts.
“Working with Performative greatly improved the quality of engagement with potential customers and our ability to forecast outcomes from those.” MD, Mobile Technology company.
Feel free to call us for a confidential discussion.
Hints and tips to put you in the driving seat of a productive team.
It has always seemed odd to me that companies make sales people redundant as a part of a cost cutting program when reacting to an economic down-turn. As the only real antidote to such a down-turn is to redouble efforts to increase profitable revenue, reducing the size of the sales team is counter intuitive. Unless of course those sales people were not performing when the business was doing well and the pressure of the economic down-turn has forced the issue!
The role of sales people is to close deals which generate revenue and profit. Those deals may be the result of hunting for new business or farming existing customers’ for add-on business but, either way; the sales role is to generate business.
Making sure all members of the sales team perform and are fully productive at all times is essential if a business wants predictable revenue growth. Ensuring that sales people are fully productive is not difficult provided you follow a few simple principles:
- Set realistic, stretch targets based on business goals and territory potential. Ensure any commission schemes encourage the behaviours that deliver the business goals
- If appropriate to your market get your sales people to develop territory plans or customer account plans which you can also use to assess potential and monitor progress.
- Use objective tools such as qualification and quantification to understand the true state of each territory, customer relationship and sales opportunity. This will give you a more realistic view of the state of your sales forecast rather than one based on the subjective gut feel of the sales person.
- In order to monitor progress you need measures which inform you about outputs and desired outcomes from processes rather than just activity. For example, counting appointments attended is of little value whereas the conversion rate from appointments to bids and bids to wins is meaningful information. Conversion ratios are a simple and effective measuring tool.
- Set milestones so you can monitor progress regularly which means you can take remedial action quickly if a sales person is not performing as required. If your sales cycle is, for example, nine months long you need milestones at monthly intervals.
- Actively manage your sales team. Spend time with them as individuals and as a team. Coach them individually and train them together.
- Hold regular sales meetings, including a review of the pipeline, making sure they are motivational and constructive, even if there is some bad news to deliver as well.
When the time comes to recruit additional staff or replace underperforming people:
- Put in the effort to create a carefully thought through job specification. Decide what you need of your sales people and express it in terms that will be easy to measure and monitor.
- Only recruit people who accurately match your job description, don’t be tempted to just recruit the best of those that apply even if they don’t meet the spec. It is better to wait a little longer for the right person than to rush into the wrong decision.
- Induct new recruits thoroughly. They cannot be expected to guess what you want of them. Ensure they fully understand your company culture, goals, processes, products, proposition, market, customers and competitors.
- In the early weeks and months, actively manage your sales people using the job description as the baseline for measuring behaviour and performance. Once they are fully up to speed apply the points above as they are now a fully qualified member of the team.
Driving the business forward
Following these steps will dramatically increase the chance that most of your sales people will be successful. As a result, this will provide a degree of protection against a general economic down-turn and once times improve will enable you to quickly get back to growing ways while competitors are still spinning on the spot. Always be mindful that the cause of poor performance is just as likely to be found in your company and its systems as it is in the individual sales person.
The economy is slowly recovering and many businesses will be considering recruiting sales people so now is the time to make sure you have in place everything to ensure you end up with a high performance team where each individual performs well – no passengers, just drivers!
A pro-active new business hunting capability with higher conversion ratios thus exceeding the previous years numbers by mid-year
“When I took on the role as MD, I had a range of issues to address across the business and having Performative to focus on the sales and selling issues enabled me to focus elsewhere. They did a huge amount of work in a very short time and what they have created has set us on the right road to become a pro-active new business hunting company whilst retaining our capability to effectively manage existing customers.
We have already exceeded 2012’s new business orders and we are enjoying a much higher conversion rate of proposals to orders.” Roy Frost, MD, Deceuninck UK
Deceuninck is active in more than 75 countries across Europe and has been in the UK for over 30 years. They make high quality uPVC profile extrusions for double glazed windows, doors and patio doors.
In early 2013 a new UK Managing Director was recruited to return the company to growth. He quickly realised he had issues to resolve in the sales and selling area of the business and having worked with Performative in a previous role he immediately asked us to help him.
The Performative Solution
An initial thorough analysis was conducted which revealed that while the company had a very effective account management model, the main issue to be addressed was the lack of an effective new business selling capability. Fixing this problem was crucial if the company was to achieve its ambitious four year growth plan.
The fully documented solution, built around Performative Structured Selling® and tailored to the specific needs of Deceuninck, incorporated:
- A fully integrated, “joined up” process linking the external appointment making service with the field sales people, and the database used for prospecting with the company’s CRM system.
- A qualification and quantification process to focus efforts on the most promising organisations and opportunities.
- Sales territory planning enabling better control and management of the field sales people.
- An entirely new approach to sales proposals, turning them into a more focused business proposal for the specific prospect.
- Training and coaching sessions for the new regime across the whole team including appointment maker, field sales staff and sales management.
In addition, to support the MD in his role as sales manager:
- Creation of KPIs and an opportunity probability calculator.
- Design of new commission and bonus schemes to reflect the mixed role of new business and account growth.
- Creation of the job specification for a sales administration position.
- Produced the design specification for a price comparison mobile app to support the sales people while selling to new prospects.
A transformed sales operation now selling solutions rather than just products and capable of competing and winning against all types of competitor.
“During the 15 month period of the Performative project we were going through significant change across the business. The extensive business knowledge of the senior Performative staff enabled them to make a major contribution to our change programme going well beyond the scope of the sales [performance transformation] project. The work done by Performative created a great foundation enabling us to maintain consistent double digit growth over the past 3 years. I have no hesitation in recommending Performative to any company needing help with business or sales performance issues.” MD, Sysmex
Sysmex, part of a major global corporation and a market leader in sophisticated blood analysis systems for laboratories, was facing increased levels of competition not just from other equipment manufacturers but, most significantly, from larger, established players with new strategies to provide fully managed solutions. To the NHS such solutions were particularly attractive as a means of dealing with budget constraints by removing the need for capital outlay. The MD was concerned that the sales personnel at all levels, the go-to-market methodology and sales processes were not ideally suited in the face of the new challenges.
The Performative Solution
Performative undertook a complete assessment of Sysmex’s sales position using the Performative Sales Maturity Assessment (SMA) and found:
- Sales people were qualified bio-medical scientists first and sales people second; they were most comfortable with products’ features, which influenced how they sold and to whom.
- Sales were typically made in the laboratory “scientist to scientist”, but NHS decision making was now a mix of procurement, finance, general management and steering committees which included members external to the NHS or the individual Primary Care Trust or hospital.
The SMA was followed by a Sales Performance Transformation Programme to change the selling operation to suit the new environment. Key deliverables were:
- New value-based solution proposition suitable for direct sales.
- New marketing collateral and web site in conjunction with an external agency.
- Complete structured selling methodology (Performative Structured Selling ®).
- Territory, account and deal planning processes including qualification and quantification.
- Sales pipeline and forecasting process including probability calculation on individual deals.
- Induction and sales training for all sales staff.
- Coaching and mentoring the Sales Manager.
- Support for the roll-out of a new CRM system.
- Support for the recruitment of new sales staff and a contracts/bid manager.
- Interim Sales Director role and recruitment of a permanent replacement.
A fully functioning, market aligned sales operation with a newly appointed Sales Director.
“The work done by Performative helped us establish a complete and structured approach to selling which gave us the means to grow the business in a controlled and predictable manner.
Performative helped pave the way for the steady year-on-year revenue increases that we have enjoyed following the completion of their work.” Paul Bragg, MD, Adept Scientific
Adept Scientific is a leading supplier of software and hardware to the research, science and engineering sectors. Adept’s extensive product range combined with superior service and support helps customers collect, analyse, simulate, organise and present data to deliver information and knowledge. Prior to engaging with Performative, Adept had become frustrated by the lack of business growth. Not unusually for a smaller business, Adept’s owners are experts in their field – in this case, science – and had achieved business success through their passion and knowledge of the subject, but they are not professional salespeople and did not have the experience to optimise their sales team to improve revenues.
The Performative Solution
Performative used a number of interventions to build a structured sales operation for Adept:
- A Sales Maturity Assessment (SMA) provided an assessment of existing sales capability and what needed to change to bring about the desired change in performance.
- A Market Focus Review (MFR) to improve understanding of Adept’s market proposition and how the sales people should exploit it to acquire new customers and gain additional business from existing customers.
- Restructuring of the sales force to provide appropriate effort to both new business development and existing account management; this led to more energy being focused on key accounts which held untapped growth potential.
- Introduction of territory and account planning tools and techniques.
- Introduction of qualification and quantification methods to assist with customer development, opportunity pursuit and pipeline management, reporting & sales forecasting.
- Design and delivery of training courses in selling skills as well as in the specially designed processes that had been implemented.
- Support for the recruitment of new sales people including design and deployment of an induction program for new recruits.
- Performative then provided an Interim Sales Director to embed the new sales approach while managing the sales team on a day-to-day basis. A recruitment campaign for a permanent head of sales was designed and implemented, followed by an induction programme and provision of on-going support for a period after his recruitment.