INDUSTRY: IT Consultancy

Sales transformation in an SAP consultancy environment

Using a blended approach to change management mixing workshops, management leadership and coaching we helped our client achieve a 27% annual sales growth in a highly competitive market.

BACKGROUND

Our client is a leading global management consultancy that helps organisations radically accelerate performance and innovation. They challenge traditional thinking and bring new ideas to life. Headquarted in the United Kingdom they have offices in Malaysia, Singapore and the United States. They employ 180 people globally and regularly appear in The Sunday Times Best Company to Work For awards.

THE CHALLENGE

An expensive business model – a ‘reverse pyramid’ of expensive senior consultants who were unable and/or unwilling to participate in business development. Without this group of employees working actively in the business development space, the ambitious growth aspirations for the Company simply would not have been achieved.

The mind shift of consultants who were traditionally delivery focused, technical experts in their field, but also experts at hiding their skills under a bushel. The objective was to get the consultants to augment their conversations with commercial considerations and not solely technical solutions.

In summary, our client had the technical skills, but in order to meet the business strategy, they needed consultants to:

  • Feel confident to talk externally about their skills and experience,
  • Embrace the opportunity to share their expertise without feeling like second hand car salesmen, and whilst remaining authentic think differently about the world of sales,
  • Understand the different stages of the buying cycle, and recognise that every conversation is, in some way, a sales conversation,
  • Become both open-minded and skilled in the art of business development,
  • Be viewed as the ‘Go to Experts’ in their field and ultimately Trusted Advisors.

HOW THE CLIENT BENEFITTED

The programme has made a strong impact on the business strategy, and the client already achieved three compelling business metrics – revenue growth, reduced attrition and employee engagement in 12 months.

The client saw an increased responsibility among the senior leaders within the organisation for business development. Every Principal Consultant agreed a sales revenue target. Consultants demonstrated ownership for business development and confidence that they have the capability to ‘sell’, not because they are dedicated salespeople, but because they are viewed as a ‘Go to Expert’ in their field.

And something previously unheard of, Junior consultants are now generating their own leads, and selling is certainly the ‘new normal’ for that population. Three leads that have already been generated by individuals who are 1-2 years into their career, something that was previously unheard of.

Our ‘Frog Kissing Calculator’ – a tangible tool which enables consultants to track business development activity – is now widely used; applying the tool has reinforced the ratio of leads required in order to generate an opportunity and subsequently a sale.

Consultants now understand the ‘Buying Journey’ so they can target their external marketing activity accordingly, making it relevant to the client at all times. A win-win. They understand what could be going through prospective clients’ minds at each stage and what they can do to engage and influence at each point. As a result they now interact with prospective clients in a different way.

Putting the spotlight on this further links to being a ‘Trusted Advisor’, a core thread in our client’s business strategy. The aim is for the consultant to suspend their agenda and demonstrate their credibility to their client at the pre-engagement stage, typically this could be through a blog, sharing an article or a LinkedIn reach out.

The biggest step change was in the way their consultants now position themselves to clients. The focus now is a greater emphasis on how they help businesses achieve their goals as opposed to a focus on just the technology aspects of the project.

WHAT HAPPENED?

We built a programme of workshops and coaching support. As the programme was rolled out we evolved the content of the course iteratively with feedback from attendees.

There was scepticism from some about the relevance of the programme. We addressed this by planning the launch phase carefully:

  • We started with individuals we felt would embrace the course positively and spread the word to their peers about how it benefited them.
  • We arranged the programme around existing business teams, led by the respective senior leader, to enable them to work together on their go-to market plan and agreed actions for execution.
  • The MD attended each workshop course to reinforce senior sponsorship and importance to the business.
  • We sought feedback to ensure the programme remained relevant and to enable employees to feel committed and part of the programme, its evolution and its importance to the overall business strategy.
  • To help embed the learning each sector leader was involved in coaching support for them and their team members.
  • As opportunities developed the team reinforced the learning by helping the client team develop persuasive offers a key contributor to the 27% sales growth.

Results

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Achieved 27% revenue growth target (~£7m)

UK staff attrition has reduced dramatically to 11%

Engagement levels are the best for many years.

Whilst financial performance and margins improved another key outcome was improved team confidence. Teams were more confident in articulating the value they could deliver to their clients which had the result of improving win rates.

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