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Strategic Sales Shift: A Tale of Intentional Growth

Fractional VP of Sales teaches business owner how to find intentional sales growth

A second-generation business owner had been groomed to take over a manufacturing business from his father, who founded it decades ago. He had always aspired to scale the company to new heights and was excited to finally get the opportunity.


However, despite his ambitious vision and dedication, he faced several challenges in driving scalable growth.


The sales team kept missing their goals and couldn’t achieve success autonomously. The owner was fed up with investing extensive time trying to train the sales team only to remain the strongest revenue contributor. 


Frustrated business leaders cannot figure out how to find predictable sales revenue

The company's fragmented sales processes led to most sales team activity occurring based on gut instinct. The team lacked a succinct roadmap and had been unsuccessful developing their own by shadowing the owner. 


There was no forecast that could be relied on and month-to-month sales were hit and miss – mostly miss.


Then, unexpectedly, the business encountered a particularly turbulent quarter. A downward sales trend increased the risk of expenses outpacing their revenue pipeline. 


This occurred amidst margin pressure from what had always been a reliable long-term customer revenue stream. The competitive landscape was increasing which prompted two key customers to rebid some of their high-ticket complex parts.


Some of the areas needing an overhaul were obvious, such as sales strategy - to more strongly differentiate themselves from growing competition. 


There was also no question that their sales management practices would benefit from more structure, and that the sales team needed help developing their skills. 


The new CEO realized that to fix the immediate problem and get positioned to achieve his long-term vision, he needed external expertise. This led to the decisive step of hiring a Fractional Sales Leader, marking the beginning of a journey towards a more focused, capable and accountable sales team.


This is a classic scenario that my Fractional VP Sales colleagues and I walk into every day. 


While the insightful CEO in this example had his finger on some of the areas hindering the company’s sales success, he didn’t know how to identify and fix the full scope of issues preventing a sustainable path to revenue growth.


A group of businesspeople begin to feel confident after finally having reliable data

Beginning the Transformation


The initial step taken in this case was assessing the previous two years of sales data to understand close percentages by salesperson and study the various deals to identify pre-close conversion points that occur during the sales process.


With this information, the client was empowered to become more intentional with driving the right sales activities and understood the importance of them being captured in a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system that we helped select and implement.


A strategic shift in strategy and outside perspective were key to success

Data hygiene was another new discipline that needed to be adopted to ensure activity and performance trends were accurate and reliable.


Next, through collaboration with the sales team, we defined clear pipeline metrics, broken down into leading key performance indicators (KPIs) and action steps necessary for achievement.


A key change that occurred at this point was that the sales team began believing it was possible to hit critical levels of activities and see success. There was a sales culture change underway that resulted in acceptance of ownership and accountability for individual results.


It was the natural time to introduce a refined performance-based sales compensation plan that motivated the right behaviors and rewarded achievement that aligned with the company’s strategic growth objectives. 


Utilizing the improved sales activity data, we also implemented simple sales performance dashboards that became foundational tools to enable a new proactive sales management approach.


The dashboards gave an accurate picture of sales process status for all active deals. They also provided clear visibility into sales pipeline momentum feeding the next month and quarter’s likely outcome. This foresight indicated if performance was on pace or if modified sales activity plans needed to be activated to course correct.


Sales Strategy Shift


With new sales infrastructure in place to guide sales efforts more succinctly, the next area of focus was to develop was a modified unique value proposition (UVP) tailored to outshine the competition.


Sales leader teaches team how to drive intentional revenue growth

Through our UVP workshop process, the Fractional Sales Leader guided the owner and his leadership team to isolate and quantify a series of competitive differentiation strategies they already embodied that were truly unique.


Through the outside resource’s expertise and fresh perspective, these “uniques” were translated into sales-ready messaging and sales tools.


In this case, the tools were positioned as resources the salespeople would use to navigate the refined sales process - tangibly demonstrating how their company delivered heightened value over its competition.


As the team became more equipped to tell the company’s story, they gained confidence in their ability to uniquely position their offerings.


Client’s Journey and Achievements


Steady focus and discipline to the new methodology led to the achievement the second-generation owner set out to accomplish.


The new dashboards that displayed active deal sales stages, 30-60-90-day forecasts, and future pipeline, provided the owner with unprecedented visibility and focus. This clarity enabled meaningful conversations with salespeople, fostering a common language within the team.


What used to be ad hoc 1-on-1 sales meetings turned into aimed conversations that focused on a particular sales stage difficulty that was delaying the win.


Instead of feeling the need to jump into sales conversation with the prospect to help the salesperson get back on track, the owner was able to strategically collaborate with the seller in a targeted fashion behind the scenes.

A sales team excitedly discusses their success during a weekly meeting

As the owner and salespeople were teaming to develop ideas to navigate sales objections or competitive challenges, the team was learning through these experiences.


Just as importantly, the salespeople retained ownership and accountability for their sales opportunities by taking the lead on executing plans of action that were collaboratively developed.


Day-to-day, the owner was steadfast in advocating that the salespeople apply the fundamentals they learned through the training program we facilitated to modernize their consultative sales skills.


The salespeople “worked” their activities as designated on their individual sales plans, and the owner kept an eye on leading KPI achievement to recognize when sales coaching would be advantageous.


The client now had a much better handle on their business and their decisions became less based on emotion and were now data driven.


As the sales team’s autonomy increased, the owner had time to work on the business. He swiftly took action on things like decreasing quote turn-around time to 12-hours, investing in a call center to increase business development activity, and expanding capacity by opening another location.


It didn’t take long for this ambitious second-generation owner to realize he could scale the business far beyond his original projections now that the company was positioned for intentional growth.


Conclusion


Upon the new sales system being deployed, during month one the sales pipeline grew by 25% because of a dramatic change in sales activity levels. As adoption grew over time, activity was reported to have increased 8x over prior levels before the new sales strategy and infrastructure changes were applied


Repeatability and scalability continued and 12 months later, revenue had doubled! At the 18-month mark, growth momentum continued with the client being on track to achieve 2x the goal they set for themselves.


For the first time in 7 years, the CFO had confidence to project financial plans months ahead, allowing the business to become more proactive. This was the result of the sales team’s forecast becoming substantiated and reliable.


The tangible rewards were great, but so was the peace of mind. This transformation provided the business with better predictability and a stronger cash position. 


The motivated team had a clearer path to growth, and the owner confidently hired a full-time head of sales to scale the team further—proof that they were ready for the next big step in their journey.


By the end of our Fractional VP Sales engagement, the first-generation owner expressed his heartfelt gratitude, confident that his son now had the tools to drive the company forward to realize its next level of potential.


If you’d like to discuss the improvement you’re looking for in your business, contact us through any of these methods: (414) 522-8488, info@sxwisconsin.com, or click here

to book an exploratory discussion.



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We are part of a national group of Senior Sales Leaders who collaborate to share insights like the examples shown in this article. We formed because of our shared passion to help business leaders exponentially grow their revenue.


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