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Sales Process Engineering
39 minutes | Aug 5, 2016
Levitt Safety: their four-year journey with SPE
Over the last four years, Levitt Safety (Canada's largest specialist safety and fire-protection company) has reduced the size of its field force and scaled-up its inside sales and customer service teams. In this interview Bruce Levitt and Fraser Gibson share insights into their four-year journey (thus far) with SPE and talk about the challenges and the triumphs. The good news is that they have been able to make the radical changes above with no initial drop in sales, predictable growth ever since and a significant improvement in customer service quality, almost from the get-go. Over this period, Levitt has built all the elements of what we call the Standard SPE Model. This model consists of: A robust customer service team (who obsess over on-time case completion) An inside sales and promotions team (who work together to ensure that salespeople each have 30 meaningful selling interactions a day) Field specialists (who handle discrete tasks, pushed to them by inside sales or customer service) An enterprise sales team (featuring a BDM paired with a BDC: ensuring the former can maximize their face-to-face time) https://youtu.be/t0vHwiU1X48 This interview will appeal to serious practitioners of SPE. It's a detailed analysis of Levitt's journey thus far (not a breathless testimonial.) But, there are many gems. Like, for example: When Bruce relates that customer service tasks that might have been open for weeks in the past would now cause a panic if open for more than a day or so The critical nature of an inside sales supervisor (and how this role differs from that of a traditional sales manager) The importance of protected calling times, y-jacking and role playing When Fraser describes the (necessary) complexity of the promotional process Levitt Safety's a large company so I would never be able to convince them to disclose the financial implications of their SPE journey, but there's a tell right at the end of the interview when Bruce predicts that in the next 3-10 years, there'll be no increase in headcount in the field and that Levitt's growth will be driven entirely from inside. His justification is that, the inside sales team (relative to field sales): Is at least as effective Provides management with significantly more control Is slightly less expensive
38 minutes | Oct 29, 2015
Orbitform: A revenue increase of 30-40% is “wildly significant for us”!
Orbitform is one of the silent revolutionaries profiled in The Machine. If you turn to page 101, you'll find the story of Madison—an organization that found it necessary to create their own hybrid SPE model. Officially, Madison's story is an amalgam of three organizations' experiences but, unofficially—between just you and me, dear reader—Madison is 95% Orbitform! A couple of days ago I sat down with Phil Sponsler, the President of Orbitform and discussed his experiences implementing Orbitform's hybrid SPE model. We talk about why a hybrid model is necessary, how it works and how Orbitform has benefited from transitioning to this new model over (primarily) the last 24 months. The highlight of the video is hearing Phil (who's not prone to hyperbole) say "wildly significant" three times, when referencing both Orbitform's revenue growth and the resulting increase in profitability! Orbitform is a Michigan-based manufacturer of forming and fastening machines. This is a great story. Enjoy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XXDTBQJcQD0 [Can't view YouTube? Use this link.] The Machine: on sale now! The Machine is on sale now, on Amazon.com and in Barnes & Noble and most US bookstores. If you haven't ordered your copy yet, please get to it! And, as soon as it arrives, sign up for the free short course at the end of Chapter 1. (You'll be shocked to discover how much value is packed into this short course.) If you have received your copy of The Machine already, please, please get over to Amazon and write a review. I really, truly need your review right now!
32 minutes | Oct 14, 2014
No more notebooks: how Blast-One International boosted customer service quality
I'll let you in on a secret. Here at Ballistix, we all love fixing customer service teams. It's easy to do. The transition to an optimal environment is low-cost and relatively risk-free. And the pay-off is huge. The pay-off typically arrives in two tranches. First, you get an incremental increase in business as a consequence of customers discovering that, all of a sudden, it's easier to transact with you. And, second, you get the ability to scale-up your sales team's volume of meaningful selling interactions because now – of course – salespeople are no longer involved in customer service tasks. Here's an interview with Keith Cornelius – the leader of the customer service team over at Blast-One International in Columbus, Ohio. Keith describes the journey he's been on to reengineer his team and to increase both the velocity and the quality of customer service activities. (Can't view YouTube? Use this link.) You'll learn why he did it, how he did it and what the consequences have been, now that he's done it. Keith talks about the physical changes he had to make to his customer service environment. You'll hear all about the banning (and burning) of notebooks. The importance of short, daily, stand-up work-in-progress meetings. And about the technology that's required to make customer service sing – and how best to use it. And Keith will tell you about the human side of the transition. The apprehension of team members at the commencement of the journey. About team members' transition from doubting Thomases to believers. And, importantly, about the significance of watching (nay, obsessing over) one critical number! You might be tempted to skip over this case study because it's not directly focused on generating sales but, before you do, realize this: if your salespeople are currently involved in quoting, processing orders or solving customer's transactional problems, your constraint isn't sales, it's customer service. I mean, you might want more sales (don't we all) but you simply ain't gonna get them until you can create a clear demarcation between sales and customer service. And that means that your customer service team needs the capability and the capacity to: Process all inbound transactions (existing customers, repurchasing) Generate all quotations and proposals Handle all transactional issues (supply and shipping issues, product performance problems, etc) And, until your salespeople can clearly see that your customer service team can handle these three activity types faster and better than they can, any attempts to increase sales will drive up costs and drive down customer service quality (which, need I say, is not exactly what you're gunning for). So, over to Keith!
36 minutes | Dec 17, 2013
Leaner. More powerful. New sales function for group-fitness provider.
The Les Mills (East-coast, USA) story Erin Kelly and I get on pretty well. But when we first met, we argued about a bunch of stuff! We disagreed on commissions, of course. Erin wasn't so sure it made sense to convert salespeople from piece-rate pay to salaries. Then there was the whole idea of centralizing the lion's share of sales activities -- and even moving the locus of sales from the field to inside. Erin had been around sales a long time and she wasn't quite sure how that theory would survive contact with reality! This morning, two years on, Erin and I connected again (in the video below) and we chatted about Erin's experience implementing the plan we hatched together back in March 2011*. Turns out that reality has been quite accommodating, where our theory is concerned. In Erin's own words, after moving all salespeople to salaries, downsizing the field team from 10 to just a few, building an inside-sales team and using events to generate around 50% of sales opportunities: Productivity has definitely not suffered. It's actually improved. Sales performance has improved overall. Sales Revenue is up. Costs are down, from an overhead perspective. A big part of that is due to Erin's management capability (which is truly impressive). But the story certainly is testament to the power of SPE. Watch the interview and see what you think (let me know in the comments below)! In case you're wondering, Les Mills is a really exciting organization. It's the world leader in group fitness. About 16,000 fitness clubs, worldwide, license Les Mills programs -- and those programs are delivered by hundreds of thousands of accredited instructors. In spite of the fact that Les Mills hails from a pretty small town in a pretty small country (Auckland, New Zealand), the organization is a global heavyweight. It blew past $100m in revenues years ago and, in a number of countries, it's hard to operate a fitness center without providing members with Les Mills programs. After I stopped recording the interview above, Erin mentioned that she has been attending a Challenger Sale workshop. Over the course of this workshop, both the elimination of sales commissions and the team-based approach to sales were discussed. In each case, Erin was the only executive in the room who had actually ventured down this path. She was struck -- as I am often -- by the enormous divide between the incredulity of executives at the mere mention of these ideas and just how easy they are to apply successfully, in practice. Why, do you think, is there such a divide? (You can comment below.) * We worked with Erin and her team for the first six months of the transition. (That was just before we transitioned from fixed-duration projects to ongoing engagements.)
27 minutes | Nov 18, 2013
No salespeople, an exploding pipeline and a 20% lift in sales!
The Davcor story Marc Cohen is no fan of consultants. At the start of this interview, he discloses that he has a medical condition -- one that results in him having a visceral aversion to consultants! Nonetheless, Marc is here to tell the story of his first 18 months, implementing SPE. He explains why he did it, the impact on his organization and his experiences working with us here at Ballistix. It's an interesting story. We discuss one particular division of Davcor (EKA) and Marc relates how: He reduced his field sales team from 3 salespeople to zero His opportunity pipeline exploded in size Sales increased by 20% -- with more good news in store as a number of high-probability opportunities move towards closure His policy of giving rations to the strong has resulted in the rapid growth of a dynamic inside-sales team (where previously, there was none) Davcor is a $30m distributor of a range of physical security products, from locks and keys, though to commercial access-control systems. Davcor's EKA division distributes an access-control system that delivers the benefits of traditional systems to mobile assets (shipping containers, trucks, and gates). In the interview, Marc mentions a brochure that's contained in the pre-approach package that's used to initiate approaches to potential clients. You can page-through that brochure below. Growth hacking coming to Ballistix Early next year, we will formalize the addition of a new service to our standard Ballistix (engagement) offering. In previous posts, I've talked about our successes with online promotion (pay-per-click advertising, webinars and the like). As we've been generating results for ourselves, we've been packaging our learnings and pushing them to our clients -- assisting them with the optimization of their websites, with SEO, PPC, Webinars, landing pages and the like. Some of the results we have generated for our engagement clients have been nothing short of spectacular. However, because this growth-hacking activity (as it's now called) is currently performed by our creative team, our capacity is pretty limited. For that reason, we'll be adding a full-time Growth Hacker early next year. This will extend the already impressive array of services to which our engagement clients have unlimited (all-you-can-eat) access.
34 minutes | Jun 19, 2013
The incredible ARCA journey: two-fifths the sales team; twice the sales
If you listen only to Kirk Nelson's first few words in the interview below, you'll be missing out on one hell of a treat! Kirk starts the interview by assuring me that ARCA has an accurate sales funnel and a good understanding of what's going on in the business. That's good, right? But, where's the money? Well, listen up, because after Kirk's understated opening, all hell breaks loose! The real fun starts when I ask Kirk if Sales Process Engineering has had any impact on sales. Turns out there has been an impact. Kirk started his journey in July 1, 2012. By the end of the year, revenue was up 37%. And Kirk expects to finish this year (2013), with another 40-50% increase in revenue. Over this period the volume of units shipped has increased ten times. We're delivering ten-times the number of units per month than we were a year ago And, it gets better! To achieve this, Kirk reduced his sales team from five people down to two. He also scrapped the commission and bonus plan and put the remaining salespeople on straight salary. And, in spite of the fact that he has a mandate to add more salespeople when his existing team hits 80% utilization, he hasn't had to because the team is still only averaging 60%. Bottom line, then, is that Kirk's organization has just about doubled sales with two-fifths of its original sales team and with the remaining salespeople operating at half throttle! And, no, before you ask, Kirk's organization is not a start-up! ARCA: cash-automation technology Kirk Nelson is an Executive VP at ARCA. ARCA provides cash-automation machines to financial institutions, retailers or anyone else who wants to automate the receipt or dispensing of cash. (If you've ever cashed-in a pile of chips in a casino, the odds are that you've interacted with ARCA's technology.) ARCA is both a distributor and a manufacturer of its own technologies. The organization has been in existence for 13 years and has operations on a number of continents. You can find ARCA here. Ballistix's involvement: virtually none! ARCA is another example of an organization that has implemented SPE – and achieved stunning results – with vitually no direct assistance from Ballistix. I ran a two-day (Solution Design) workshop for ARCA in June 2012 but, aside from that, Kirk has produced this outcome using only The Machine (my upcoming book) as his guide. (I think he also read my first book and attended a webinar or two.) This is awesome, for two reasons: If organizations can implement SPE without the assistance of Ballistix (and a rapidly increasing number are), this is a powerful validation of SPE It's just not cricket for for me to crow about the accomplishments of our own clients. However, if an organization can achieve a breakthrough by themselves, that's something I feel a little more comfortable making noise about! So much value As is often the case, the real value in this interview is not the headline. The truly valuable nuggets are the casual revelations that Kirk makes as he tells his story: Like when Kirk jokes that he would not like to have to answer to one of his salespeople's sales coordinators ("they are brutal", he says!, when explaining how Sales Coordinators genuinely own opportunities – in spite of the fact that they earn less than half what salespeople do) Like when Kirk reveals that he now has an uncanny ability to forecast revenues (he's close to achieving a forecasting accuracy of ±10% accuracy at 90 days) Like when Kirk explains why salaried (rather than commissioned) salespeople are actually more effective Or when he talks about how Project Leaders have been able to effortlessly convert small transactions into (much larger) enterprise-wide opportunities ...
31 minutes | Jul 17, 2012
No help from Ballistix: Finance provider goes it alone and enjoys 5x boost in profits!
I’m so happy to post this video! On the one hand it demonstrates that organizations can implement SPE without the assistance of Ballistix. On the other hand it suggests that we’ve made huge progress in our efforts to codify and communicate both the principles and the practice of SPE. Aside from reading our books and attending our events, Daniel Dunsford had no help from Ballistix. But that didn’t stop him from following our prescription (almost to the letter), and, as a consequence: Slashing his sales-related costs Boosting his sales revenues Multiplying his firm’s profitability Daniel is the principal of AR Cash Flow, a provider of receivables financing, based in Sydney, Australia. One of the things that I found striking about this interview is that Daniel made the correct call on a number of tough decisions: From day-one, he established the critical 1:1 ratio between sales coordinators and salespeople – and scaled-down his sales team to make this possible (rather than under-resourcing the sales coordinator role and rendering the transition impossible) He saw the light and eliminated sales commissions right away (rather that allowing them to cast a pall over the team-based structure) He bit the bullet and took-on the business development role himself – until he had proof of concept (rather than relying on indirect feedback) Anyway, that’s enough from me. Here’s Daniel telling the story, in his own words. No help from Ballistix: AR Cash Flow goes it alone and multiplies profits
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