BUILDING THE FOUNDATION FOR GROWTH
Communications and technology company of industry-specific solutions provided over the company’s secure mobility, cloud, strategic networking, and advanced communications platforms for wholesale, corporate, and government clients in more than 150 countries and 99 percent of Fortune 500 companies.
The company had acquired multiple providers in the hosting, cloud and information security to add to its portfolio. After two years of expansion, growth slowed and one-time market leaders were being passed by competing sales forces. Strategic revenues grew in the single-digits and the organization was underperforming its sales targets.
Executives observed the following types of behavior:
- Limited contact with clients' senior executives highlighted by a low number of executive briefings
- Account plans that lacked depth and insights about the account and targeted contacts
- Inconsistency in sales activity, funnel and forecast management
A custom program was developed that allowed the sales organization the opportunity to learn, practice and apply new knowledge and skills. Sales management focused on coaching three core areas of expertise individually within the sales organization in order to facilitate learning and application of each skill:
- Research at the industry, account and contact levels
- Analysis to discern priorities, determine organizational dependencies and evaluate business impacts for strategic account plans
- Communication to engage C-suite and line of business (LoB) executives and execute sales
The initial pilot sales organization had a six-month rolling agenda with scheduled executive review sessions for defined accounts. In order to lessen pressure on the sales team and focus on leading behaviors and indicators, the vice-president made the quantity of executive briefings the target for sales teams. Internal studies had indicated an exceptionally high correlation between executive briefings and sales growth, so the goal was to double the volume of executive briefings in the year in order to increase sales.
The sales team exceeded the goal by a factor of 8X in the first six months. As a result, the organization quickly reversed in both sales activity and sales results with double-digit growth of new sales and total billed revenue over the course of the year. These results were widely lauded and earned the executive sponsor a promotion. With the design in place, subsequent organizations replicated the model in the industry verticals and public sector (Federal & SLED) sales. These too experienced similar revenue growth.
Projecting forward the company has renewed its commitment to developing customer intimacy on its most strategic accounts and is extending those capabilities beyond the core sales teams.
THE ART OF WAR
Top tier vertical industry sales organization representing the crown jewels of the company with 2.5 billion dollars of annual revenue supported by hundreds within their extended sales teams.
Sales had become stagnant in the organization with sales teams facing revenue threats from existing competitors and new market disruptors, clients' own internal technology and shared services teams, as well as their own potential contract renewal write-downs. A laissez faire attitude and sales culture had developed where urgency and initiative lacked.
Executives observed the following types of behavior:
- Silo and tunnel vision mindsets allowing deft competitors opportunities to easily divert new business away
- Limited collaboration and knowledge sharing across the vertical
- Lacking insights and depth of knowledge about competitors, their strategies, tactics and positioning
- Lower win rates across strategic opportunities
A business war game was designed for all the managers, directors and executives in the sales vertical where they were to attack one of the top accounts from the top competitors' point-of-view. Each was assigned a specific competitor and service area. Each role explored their relationships, predicted their moves, and planned counter maneuvers in advance. The war game provided the opportunity to learn, practice and apply new knowledge and skills in competitive intelligence. Sales management focused on coaching three core areas of expertise individually within the sales organization in order to facilitate learning and application of each skill:
- Research of competitors at the account and contact levels
- Analysis of personal and professional relationships to discern strategic alignment, levels of contact and support
- Cross-functional collaboration for strategy and execution of growth plans
75 business leaders and two uninterrupted days produced an exceptional volume of competitive intelligence and insights highlighted by the identification of blind spots that plagued individual sales teams and the organization at-large and the rediscovery of boldness and sense of urgency. The collective consciousness created a series of newly refined strategies and specific action plans to capitalize on strengths, minimize weaknesses and outmaneuver competitors.
What happened next was a surge of activity. Sales leaders measured a spike in new contacts, four-fold growth in the sales pipeline, and a 50% improvement of win rates that remedied earlier losses and enabled a pattern of growth forward.
One of the managing directors stated "It takes great courage to admit that the enemy has thus far outfoxed you - and even greater courage to then to remedy the situation." War gaming created new possibilities across the entire organization and changed the thinking of the individuals and the collective community. It started with the leaders and carried through to their people.
Heart and Soul
Boutique healthcare provider specializing in wellness and functional medicine with multiple offices and a growing network of patients and practitioners.
Growth was impacting patient relationships. Operational measures showed longer wait times and throughput. Anecdotal evidence suggests that patients were satisfied but began to feel disconnected from the practice. Digital interactions were negligible and patient traffic showed signs of slowing.
A custom program was developed that allowed the practitioners to better communicate with patients throughout their journey. The owners focused on customer insights messaging that genuinely helped patients develop knowledge and skills in order to manage their health:
- Research and analysis of patient personas
- Content marketing and tailored to patient priorities, wants and needs
- Communication and human relations skills to develop a genuine interest in patients as individuals
Patient bookings increased month over month with new patient referrals increasing 75%. The open environment led to the growth of unscripted patient testimonials which inspired prospective patients and providers alike while ushering in new business. The practice focused on listening and letting patients tell their own story. This shift has made all the difference in creating stronger healthier relationships and growing the practice.