As many of you know, I’ve been splitting my time between Australia and the US for the last six months or so.
I’ve been interested to see that, although I’ve cut my available capacity in Australia by almost half, our volume of Aussie sales has stayed exactly the same (in fact, in recent times it has actually been trending upwards).
Furthermore, I’m noticing a dramatic decrease in opportunity cycle-time (measured across won opportunities).
By ‘opportunity cycle-time’, I mean the duration of the opportunity-management process. The opportunity management process is also referred to as the ‘engagement model’ (a more client-friendly term).
It’s interesting and instructive to dig into the cause of these positive effects.
Because of my limited availability in each country, Andrew (my Sales Coordinator), has had to make the following changes to how he manages opportunities:
- He encourages interested executives to skip an initial one-on-one appointment (Best-practice Briefing) and jump straight to what used to be the second step in our process: an in-house, half-day Executive Briefing. If executives need help convincing their colleagues to set aside half a day, Andrew provides them with a kit containing our whitepaper, multimedia presentation and 90-minute keynote video.
- Andrew has also been replacing some meetings (e.g. the presentation of study outcomes) with web-conferences – and scheduling more teleconferences
I have also replaced our encyclopaedic Feasibility Study Outcomes documents with a simpler PowerPoint presentation. I’ve discovered that the PowerPoint presentation takes almost half the time to produce, that it’s read by more people and that it’s (surprise, surprise) much easier to use in group presentations (including web conferences) than a traditional document.
The result of these changes is that I have more than doubled my effective capacity while simultaneously improving the performance of our sales (opportunity-management) process. Of course, the value of this additional capacity is the cost of the additional Business-development Manager that we now do not need to add (plus the significant on-costs associated with such a person).
The bad news is that the measures above have been forced upon us by our US expansion. I’m not convinced that we would have pursued them without this external pressure. The lesson is that we should all be alert for opportunities to further exploit our salespeople’s limited capacity by simplifying our engagement models.