Having worked with many professional services clients over the years, several of them have tried to transform their approach to sales (or business development if you prefer). Some of these organisations have put together a formal transformation programme whilst others have simply sought to make a positive shift in their sales efforts.
This article borrows from research (McKinsey, Hinge Marketing) as well as my own experiences.
First – answer the question “Why are we doing this?”
- There must be a compelling reason for change with a clearly articulated “what will happen if we do not make these changes” and why the current status is unacceptable.
- Design your programme – have a clear vision about what the transformed organisation will look like. “In 3 years time we will be working in these sectors, we will have these key clients, we will be known for….” The vision needs to be supported by 12 month objectives; “Our objectives over the next 12 months are: eg 1. To have made our first sale in the Oil & Gas sector, 2. To have doubled the number of business development meetings we are having as a business, 3. To have developed a Key Client programme for our top 10 accounts.” Clear KPI’s for all involved.
- Put together a team to drive the programme. Your team make up will be somewhat dependent on the size of the programme but to make it work you will need senior sponsorship. One of the firms I worked with had the CEO, CFO, Head of BD/Marketing, Head of HR and the four business unit leaders on the team.
- Develop skills, process and behaviours. You will need to include training into your programme. Don’t make the mistake that many make and think that a one-off training course will develop sustained behavioural change – it doesn’t! Training works if: a) people know why they are doing it, b) how it will help them do their job better, c) they are given support following the event, d) there are follow ups and refreshers.
- Give your best and potential performers access to coaching. This demonstrates a real commitment to improving people through strong, challenging and empathetic coaching. It complements training and allows the recipients to really embed new habits. Coaching should be given to both individuals and teams. High-performing teams whether they are leadership, key client, market/sector teams can take the business to new places and turbo-boost business development.
- Measure and monitor progress: Track the KPI’s, celebrate success, involve don’t dictate.
- Lastly, be very clear about the behaviour you expect and do not tolerate poor behaviour regardless of seniority or past performance!