“I was very impressed with the power this sales process brought to our practice. Instead of reacting to the market by chasing RFP’s as we’d always done before, we learned to focus very clearly on what had to be done to win the best clients quickly, and with little or no competition.
This experience taught us that Sales is not only a science, but a competitive weapon. They brought us cutting-edge thinking and real sales leadership. They also took us into opportunities we wouldn’t have seen otherwise, and substantially improved our ability to win against other Big 4 firms.”
– Former Partner-In-Charge, Global Assurance Services, International Assurance and Consulting Firm
About the Client
A global network of professional services firms providing Audit, Tax, Technology, and Advisory services in to clients in 148 countries around the world, the firm is organized around five industry groups (LOBs) and delivers value to its clients through its member firm’s services. Outside the US, it is comprised of an alliance of country member firms. In total, it employs 6,500 partners, 70,000 client service professionals, and 17,000 administration and support staff worldwide.
For over a decade, the audit and tax units of this Big 4 firm had faced increasing competition, lengthy sales cycles, low win rates, and significant pressure on pricing.
In a global market growing at an average annual rate of over eight percent, the firm’s revenue growth was flat except in the technology practices. The market increasingly viewed the firm’s offerings as commodity products which only contributed to the intense pressure on margins they faced. The firm’s large and complex sales and service organization was ineffective overall. Like other firms in this category, they had retained several prestigious consulting firms and made large investments in several sales initiatives which returned only very limited results.
The firm’s sales and marketing strategy was out of step with the markets being served and key prospect stakeholder mission critical issues. The various LOB value propositions, while not unlike those of their more successful competitors, did little to differentiate the firm and were not compelling to the firm’s most desirable targets.
Value positioning also varied widely across Europe and Asia as did the makeup and focus of the sales organizations among the country member organizations. Sales efforts were carried out by partners and mangers responsible for both sales and the delivery of the products and services.
There were few dedicated sales resources except in technology. Partners and managers responsible for sales failed to team well with the organization’s technical and industry experts. Effective sales and marketing processes were missing or incomplete in many areas and most LOBs. Even among the most effective units, partners and mangers focused on features and competencies.
They were unable to sell the intangible attributes and business implications of their services and had limited success accessing C-level stakeholders. Consequently, most of the sales dialogue was with mid-level personnel around features and pricing rather than on value and their prospects’ most valuable outcomes.
OverDrive performed an exhaustive discovery of the organization, processes and talent, as well as a detailed market analysis. The existing strategy and processes could not be rationalized and a revised go-to-market strategy and process were adopted. This phase of the work hinged on market alignment, repositioning and the creation of a client-facing dialogue focused on the key agendas of large, multinational organization stakeholders.
In order to fine tune the client-facing sales tools and assess the effectiveness of the supporting sales processes and resource model, Sales OverDrive performed a limited but successful pilot. OverDrive then implemented its Sales Process and a variety of supporting sales tools and techniques needed to drive the new strategy.
OverDrive optimized the company’s allocation of resources, separating the sales and delivery functions, stripping out any non-productive activities and augmenting the sales team with pre-sales executives, inside sales professionals and additional sales executives. OverDrive restructured the existing sales organization and trained the team on the OverDrive processes. Interim sales leaders were added to assist the existing sales leadership in driving the new processes.
OverDrive selected and implemented appropriate sales tracking and reporting technology to measure performance, identify and institutionalize best practices, and design more appropriate training and sales coaching protocols.
Overdrive built comprehensive compensation, measurement and reward systems which better aligned the activities of sales, marketing and account delivery. This created greatly enhanced teaming, sales performance and accountability which supported the sales culture we were determined to develop.
Key sales accelerators were installed to shortening the sales cycle further and we changed the “rules of engagement” by establishing revenue teams that were led by OverDrive sales professionals. We then coached and mentored the sales professionals and practice personnel in the field.
In less than a year, Overdrive increased the win rate in competitive situations for new clients by over 75% and new top line revenue increased 20% in every pilot market. Large account capture was also considerably improved, resulting in a 40% increase in the number of profitable, large account wins over the prior period. Sales cycle time was cut in half. Utilizing an unusual teaming model, we created a large, virtual sales force and the energized sales culture that management desired. Sales and delivery roles and were carefully divided and significant inefficiencies were immediately eliminated from the system. Partners and managers that remained in a sales role became much more focused and actively engaged in what proved to be a more successful, repeatable sales strategy and process.