The Mid-Markets Channel of a global telecommunications company completed it best revenue year, thanks in part to the implementation of a new strategy, and the executive team wanted to continue the accelerated growth curve.
The increase in revenue for the channel, consisting of 2,000 sales and service representatives, was largely a result of a 53-branch rollout of the channel’s new operating model. The new model helped increase sales and service representative activity by 45% and sales by 32%. Raising the bar again required new tools.
The company had tried, and failed, on three earlier attempts to introduce sales force automation to its 1,200 sales representatives plus sales managers. The company believed that sales force automation would be part of the answer and recognized that the cost, both financially and in terms of credibility, made the stakes high for a fourth attempt. On the heals of a successful 18-month initiative to implement the channel’s new strategy and organization, the executive team recognized that bottom-up behavioral change was essential and engaged the same team of “outsiders” to lead the sales force automation design and implementation effort.
The timing was ideal. Presenting the sales force automation (customer relationship management) initiative as an opportunity to automate the new processes and behaviors of the field sales force and to equip the sales managers to monitor and manage those new processes and behaviors provided a logical basis for the new technology.
The approach consisted of four steps:
- Customize and test the technology to support and integrate with the newly-deployed sales model.
- Modify the sales process to integrate with the technology and capitalize on the automation.
- Implement sales territories to faciltate and manage market penetration.
- Introduce the sales automation technology in three pilot branches, followed by full deployment across the sales channel.
The pilot involved 20 sales managers and more than 100 sales representatives in 11 locations.
The pilot was successful, based on the following selected metrics:
- Sales per representative (compared to non-pilot branches), 28% increase;
- Sales quota attainment (compared to channel average), 363% increase (40% in pilot locations compared to 11%); and
- Annualized incremental revenues, $19 million.
The automation scope included prospecting, funnel management, activity management, and territory management and dramatically improved monthly sales forecasting and market penetration analysis. The automation reinforced the earlier strategic change implementation and helped internalize new and desired sales manager and sales representative behaviors while increasing the productivity and effectiveness of both.