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Revving Up Revenue: A Comprehensive Guide to Improve Sales Performance in Professional Services

Updated: Dec 12, 2023

Growth Consultant

Improving sales performance can be likened to tuning up a high-performance car to ensure you get to your destination as quickly and safely as possible. Here’s how: Your firm's strategy is like a GPS. Just as a GPS directs a car to its destination, your strategy maps out your course towards your goals.

The firm's structure is the engine. Much like an engine powers a car, your structure drives your business forward towards its objectives.

Lastly, your sales process functions like your pedals. Similar to how the gas and brake pedals adjust a car's speed, your sales process controls the pace of your business growth.

To hit top gear in growth, your professional services company must master how to adjust these components at each stage of its journey. This involves tailoring a niche strategy, constructing a structure that synchronizes with your firm's growth trajectory, and designing an efficient sales process. So, let's rev up your revenue engine. Are you ready to accelerate your growth? Let's hit the road!

Charting the Course: Key Pit Stops in Sales Performance Journey

To get started, you need to know how to get where you want to go and understand exactly what you need to do along the way.

1. Evaluating Sales Maturity

Imagine your firm's sales and marketing function as the engine of your high-performance car. Like engines, there are varying levels of sophistication and development. Some firms might still have a rudimentary engine, barely able to get the wheels turning. Others may have an engine in the developmental phase, somewhat functional but lacking full power. The fortunate ones boast advanced, finely-tuned engines with optimal power output. Your vehicle needs the right engine for its stage of development - like installing the correct engine for your car's model.

2. Balancing Complexity and Maturity

Now, inspect your offering. Are you providing a multifaceted system integration or delivering a straightforward, singular service? The complexity of your offering should dictate your vehicle's design, handling, and navigational strategy, similar to how a car's design and features cater to specific driving conditions and challenges.

3. Recognizing the Role of Technical Skills

Shifting gears, let's discuss skills. Certain services demand extensive technical expertise or specific domain knowledge. You wouldn't send a racecar driver to navigate off-road trails, would you? Therefore, consider who possesses the right knowledge for your service and what role they should play in the sales process.

4. Establishing Credibility

Here's another critical aspect: credibility. Who does your client trust more behind the wheel? The sales team or the delivery team? The type of service you deliver can influence who holds the keys to trust. It's somewhat like deciding whether a Formula 1 racer or a seasoned truck driver should take the wheel.

5. Adapting to Organization Size

Size plays a role too. If you're a lean team of 30, you might not need a racing crew or a complex pit team. However, if you're a larger crew of 250, your strategy, structure, or process might need to evolve. It's akin to choosing the right vehicle - a two-seater sports car might work for a solo driver, but you'll need a coach bus for a larger group. As you grow your professional services company, revisit this and continually adapt.

6. Choosing Between Standard vs Customized Approach

Finally, consider your product. Is it a mass-manufactured model or a custom-built machine? A standardized product might fit one type of structure, while a customized service might require a different one. It's similar to deciding whether to purchase a production line car or opt for a bespoke build.

Accelerating with Precision: Mastering Sales Performance Strategy

Imagine you’re driving from New York to Florida. There are a myriad of routes you can take – some considerably slower than others. Similarly, there are some tweaks to your own journey that will help you arrive at a masterful sales performance much faster. Here’s how to accelerate your journey:

Plot Your Route: Define Your Niche

Like a GPS guiding you towards your destination, your first step towards high performance is to clearly define your niche. Remember, the richest treasures often lie off the beaten track. By focusing on a specific niche, you're not just mapping your value - you're turbocharging your marketing and sales engines, ensuring your messages reach the right passengers. Understanding your core clients' psychographics and demographics is akin to knowing every turn and bump in your chosen route. So, who are your premium passengers?

Polish Your Badge: Be Famous

With a clear understanding of your core customer, it's time to define your brand - what unique features does your car boast? This can be a challenging task for many service organizations, but remember, a well-crafted brand can make your vehicle gleam amid a sea of competitors.

Set Your Targets: Select Accounts

Armed with your core customer profile, set your sights on the top 50 accounts. In the fast-paced race of services, it's easy to get distracted by the allure of new accounts or opportunities, regardless of their alignment with your core clientele. But like a seasoned racer, remember that unfocused pursuit can reduce your speed and precision. Avoid trying to be a vehicle for all terrains and passengers.

Master the Brakes: Say No More Often

An experienced driver knows that the brakes are as important as the accelerator. The path to superior sales performance requires disciplined control of your speed, including the often-overlooked power of saying 'no'. By focusing on a specific route and knowing your passengers well, you equip yourself with the skill to brake when needed. This mastery can be the secret fuel that propels your sales performance to the finish line.

Driving Sales Structure for Peak Performance

The driver of your sales process – like the driver of your car – is going to impact the approach to arriving (safely) in your desired destination. One is not necessarily wrong over the other; however, the needs are unique and require careful consideration in each instance.

1. Founder in the Driver's Seat: Founder-Led Sales Process

The founder controls the steering wheel in this process, leading the journey through every stage: preparing to sell, prospecting, needs discovery, solution crafting, solution presentation, and winning. This approach often works well in smaller cars, but it carries risks. The driver may tire, wrestling with both navigating the route and pushing the accelerator. Moreover, founders often find it hard to hand over the wheel, hindering the creation of a proficient sales crew, keeping them stuck in the driver's seat instead of supervising the entire journey.

2 The Dedicated Pit Crew: Sales-Driven Sales Process

This strategy relies on a dedicated sales crew that manages the entire race, from prospecting to negotiation. After winning a pit stop (project), they pass the baton to the delivery team. While effective, this approach can lead to a misalignment between the sales pit crew and delivery team, as overzealous sales can outpace delivery, leading to friction over pit stop durations, efforts, rates, or discounts. Furthermore, it may stall the development of sales skills within the delivery team, as they may shirk sales responsibilities, assuming it's the pit crew's job.

3. The Delivery Team Behind the Wheel: Delivery-Led Sales Process

In this process, the delivery team takes full control of the wheel, managing the race from start to finish with possible navigation assistance from marketing. This route faces bumps in the early stages, as consultants often lack the necessary driving skills, which necessitates additional driving lessons. The dual burden of managing the route and pushing the accelerator can lead to an inconsistent race performance. However, this approach can be effective when the delivery team takes control of the existing clients due to their credibility and relationship with the client.

4. The Relay Race: Hybrid Sales Process

This model sees a dedicated sales team sprinting to acquire new clients, while the delivery team focuses on existing accounts. The main challenge lies in clearly defining roles and responsibilities to avoid confusion over who's driving and who's navigating. To implement this model effectively, it necessitates a well-coordinated relay race plan where both sales and delivery engage in creating and reviewing race strategies. Additionally, have a robust major account planning process in place, so sales, delivery and marketing collaborate on quarterly and annual objectives for accounts. This ensures a clear race strategy and a united team to drive performance.

Tuning Your Vehicle for Peak Performance: Different Organizational Structures

Knowing the vehicle you’re traveling towards optimized sales performance in is critical – take a look at the different sales structures and see which vehicle you’re driving.

Founder-Led Sales Structure: The Sports Car

The Mechanism: The Founder-Led structure is the compact sports car of professional services firms - nimble, quick, and driven by a singular entity. This structure is optimal in a relatively small, less mature client relationship environment.

The Dynamics: The founder is the key driver of the firm, leading sales leadership, and new and existing customer sales. A sales coordinator or outsourced marketing might act as the navigator, assisting in lead generation, qualification, and sales support.

Sales-Driven Process: The Grand Prix Team

The Mechanism: The Sales-Driven structure operates like a race team in grand prix. Ideal for rapidly growing firms, it involves building a dedicated sales team outside of delivery.

The Dynamics: In the initial phases, this structure might include a sales rep and a sales coordinator, with the founder acting as the team manager. As the team evolves, roles expand to include a sales manager, sales representatives, presales professionals, account managers, and a marketing manager. This structure thrives when selling a standardized product, but can face challenges with highly customized service offerings.

Delivery-Led Sales Process: The Off-Road Vehicle

The Mechanism: Picture the Delivery-Driven structure as an off-road vehicle, designed to tackle the toughest terrains. This structure houses the sales function within the consulting organization.

The Dynamics: It excels when the service requires a high level of technical or business acumen, akin to a vehicle needing specialized features to navigate rough landscapes. In such cases, the most credible person in front of the client is the one delivering the service.

Hybrid Model: The Multipurpose Vehicle

The Mechanism: The Hybrid model is akin to a multi-purpose vehicle, equipped to handle varied terrains and tasks. This model shares ownership of the sales process between a dedicated sales organization and the delivery organization.

The Dynamics: It's ideal when a firm desires substantial growth but lacks sufficient lead generation and sales skills within the consulting team. This model aims for higher throughput and accelerated growth, similar to a well-coordinated convoy moving towards its destination.

Charting a Course to Peak Performance with ALTA Consulting

Navigating your professional services firm to success can feel akin to driving a high-performance vehicle. To reach peak performance, it's crucial to align your strategy, structure, and sales process with the unique conditions of your journey.

These conditions can include the complexity of your offerings, required technical or domain skills, the size of your organization, credibility with clients, and whether your product is standardized or customized. Understanding these dimensions empowers you to fine-tune your firm for optimal performance.

At ALTA Consulting, we specialize in helping businesses like yours calibrate their sales strategies and processes for success. We view your journey towards enhanced performance as our own, providing guidance and expertise at every turn.

Ready to turbocharge your sales performance? Contact us today. Let's set your professional services firm on the fast lane to success.


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