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Case study: From hearing to listening: Using Sales feedback to (Re)Invigorate Slumping Revenue

We’ve all been there.  Our companies hit a revenue slump, and we ask Sales “Why?”. They respond by saying something while we keep executing against our own agendas. Because after all, we already have plans.

A multi-billion-dollar enterprise services company, and CMG client, had recently experienced significant success selling advanced services to a growing base of enterprise customers.  However, in parallel, sales of its core services dipped.

Internal stakeholders weighed in with a variety of theories for the dip, but their theories didn’t converge on a single root cause or a silver bullet to reverse it.  Was the dip the result of a new competitive threat?  A pricing weakness?  An unknown change in customer needs? The changeup in sales focus?  Something else?  To figure things out, our client asked us to isolate and define the true threats to and opportunities for its core portfolio of enterprise services.

Leveraging our specific expertise in our discovery programs, sales enablement and enterprise services, CMG identified a number of opportunities for sales performance improvement that are now being realized.  This happened because we helped shift people away from hearing about the sales slump to listening to the Voice of Sales to understand the ‘why’ of the slump. Here’s how.

Research Methodology: Listening to the Voice of Sales.

CMG’s Voice of Sales research methodology uses a design thinking approach that combines quantitative and qualitative research with subject matter expertise. This transforms disparate data into prioritized, actionable insights, enabling the right actions to be taken in the right time and place and resolving the slump.

To start, CMG’s design thinking approach provoked high-quality conservations with key frontline personnel in Sales Operations, Marketing, Product Management and Training/HR, developing a “boots-on-the-ground” perspective as a result.  We integrated this with input from internal sales and support team members to understand the range of prospective core enterprise customer experiences as they advance in the purchase flow.

With these insights, CMG developed specific hypotheses for the cause of the slump and then designed and fielded a quantitative survey to validate them with the client’s 300-person sales force. The findings revealed a number of specific opportunities to reinvigorate sales, that in partnership with the cross-functional team, we prioritized and went to work on, including the two listed below.

Opportunity No. 1: (Re)Educate Sales on the Benefits of the Solution.

Although the value propositions of the company’s core enterprise service solutions were competitive with others in the marketplace, due to lack of current solution knowledge, Sales lacked confidence in their understanding of the core products and team members were leading with price rather than benefits in customer conversations.  Customers cared more about the benefits and didn’t want to talk only price.

Recommended solution: Leverage monthly product demos focused on features and benefits to enable Sales to build familiarity and confidence so that team members will proactively elevate the core enterprise service conversation to lead with solution benefits over price.

Opportunity No. 2: Streamline the Order Intake Process for Core Enterprise Services.

We discovered another key challenge was the complexity of the order entry process for core enterprise service contracts which led to increased selling effort and a resistance to sell.

Recommended solution: Identify non-critical order entry inputs to be collected post-installation, thereby streamlining the process and improving motivation to sell and the customer experience.

Summary:

  • Listen to Voice of Sales:
    • In First 8 weeks:
      • Gain insights from front line functions across business to develop hypotheses of causes of sales slump
      • Validate hypotheses and prioritize key actions via quantitative survey across entire sales force
      • Gain alignment on action plan across all stakeholders
    • Over Following 2 months:
      • Execute action plan
    • Results:
      • Increased close rate and 10% revenue volume increase across core enterprise services while maintaining sales momentum of advanced services.
      • Increased Sales satisfaction because the team members recognize they have been heard.
      • Improved engagement across a cross-functional team including marketing, sales, sales operations, product, training, support and others.
    • Keys to success
      • Committed leadership to discover and address root causes of the sales slump
      • Committed engagement by and accountability of the cross-functional team members
      • Engagement of sales and sales operations teams with demonstration that their experiences and perspectives count.
      • CMG’s specialized experience in the enterprise and SMB markets, driving increased revenue performance through the combination of market insights, subject matter expertise, and the capability to execute in complex environments.

Are you listening to the voice of sales?  Message Maria Trysla directly via LinkedIn to learn more about CMG’s Voice of Sales research methodology.