Sales Effectiveness Case Study

Overview:

Sales effectiveness diagnostic and growth strategy for private equity backed provider of facility maintenance services.

Problem:

Company X was unable to set appropriate sales targets or develop a clear growth plan because the industry had undergone significant economic change and had quickly become commoditized. The company needed to define “normalized’ sales performance, diagnose why recent sales performance had declined, and develop an effective action plan to deliver on projected growth   potential.

Approach:

The Studio began by conducting heavy research into market growth trends, root causes of lost bids, and customer defection drivers. The team conducted roughly 400 internet surveys and 150 phone interviews with the firm’s prospects, lost customers, existing customers, and former competitor employees. Company field leaders (DVPs, Regional Managers, and Sales Reps) were interviewed and surveyed to obtain an internal perspective on the causes of lower proposal volume and close   rates.

The team also consulted industry reports and association materials to analyze changes in   the industry and competitive landscape. Finally, a deep dive on financial and operating data was performed, including an analysis of individual proposals, renewals, company financials, compensation data, and key performance indicators.

The Studio’s methodology included:

  1. identifying drivers of the revenue gap,
  2. identifying root causes of the revenue gap,
  3. identifying and developing a list of corrective actions, and
  4. sizing and sequencing the resulting improvement

This process included a full dissection of the sales pipeline: market demand sizing, lead generation, proposal pricing and dollar volume, close rate, upsell conversion, and customer  retention.

Ultimately, the primary and secondary research uncovered five root causes for the underperformance of the company’s sales team:

  • Salesforce size and deployment: Company X did not have an adequate number of sales reps due to high attrition, poor recruiting efforts, and inadequate training. The available market size suggested an opportunity to expand the sales force by more than 60 reps (70% growth).
  • Customer targeting: The sales force was not targeting the “sweet spot” Recent performance trends suggested that reps should spend 30% more time on efforts related to larger accounts in specific industry sectors.
  • Pricing and scoping: The Company was not reacting to marketplace changes quickly enough and needed to lower prices to effectively compete and maximize expected value. The approval process also demanded greater flexibility in price

 

  • Account management: Customer satisfaction and retention rates were below top competitors, indicating a need to increase focus on relationship building. This change required management to change incentive compensation plans and reallocate the sales team’s time to better serve existing
  • Service delivery: Surveys indicated that customers were defecting most often due to service Management confirmed that service labor hours were 10% below budget and needed to be increased. The results also confirmed that problem resolution processes needed to be revised and improved.

As a result of our process, the Studio calculated that Company X’s sales improvement opportunities could generate at least $120M in incremental annual revenue and $11M in incremental operating profit per year

Recommendation:

Because Company X had so many potential improvement opportunities, the Studio prioritized the   11 recommended growth levers based on speed to implementation and size of opportunity. The recommendations with the fasters and largest impact were then broken down further to create a twelve-month action plan, including resource requirements, budget needs, key milestone date targets, tracking processes, key performance indicators, and immediate next steps. The expected return on investment was also provided for budgeting   purposes.

Results:

Company X was able to increase sales per rep by 29% and proposal close rates by 25% over a two year period. Although customer retention rates initially dipped, they ultimately recovered after new account management processes were fully launched. The sponsor eventually exited the investment  by positioning the company as a growth platform for another private equity  acquirer.