Your organisation may be excellent at its technical capabilities, producing its product or service but is it also strong commercially? Without a strong commercial engine room the best business will struggle. Here are a handful of questions to ask yourself just to check that your organisation is in good shape.
1. Have you got a defined value proposition; Know your value to your customers. What do you bring that others don’t? Do you ensure all involved know this and can articulate it?
2. Have you got a defined strategy – how you plan to add value to your customers and how you plan to maintain and grow the business, how you plan to deal with future market place threats and opportunities. Do you make sure this is understood by all to ensure they stay focused?
3. Lead generation -New business
- Have you got a robust marketing capability, person or people to be scanning the environment regularly for new opportunities/ projects/tenders?
- Have you got a regular networking process, that facilitates face to face meetings/ event attendance?
- Have you got a social media presence (e.g. a blog that offers advice / insight / value and that connects to Twitter / LinkedIn) that positions your business as experts in your field and keeps your name out there?
- Are all involved in customer facing roles focused on and equipped to look for new business, not just “sales” people?
4. Lead generation – Old /Existing customers
- Have you got a marketing capability to be regularly “talking” directly to them?
- Social media (as above)
- Have you got an account management approach to have regular (even if infrequent, i.e. 3 -6 monthly) contact with current / previous customers and ensure good follow up service?
5. Sales capacity
- Do you have the right capacity to pursue leads? Do you have the amount of people / resource? Do they have the right skills? The right focus/ motivation? Do you have the right partners/ distributors? With the right skills?
6. Managing opportunities
- Have you got a high win rate (i.e. % of deals/ projects / opportunities that you win vs what you pitch for) and are you able to forecast accurately and therefore manage cash flow well?
- Have you got clarity about what it takes to move a project / opportunity through the stages of the sale; do you have a clearly structured pipeline that all involved understand and participate in?
- Do you do regular pipeline (project or new business) review meetings to maintain focus and discipline?
- Do you / your teams gather and analyse key commercial information (often not the focus for professional service businesses, who instead focus on the technical aspects of a project) e.g. :-
i. Who owns the final decision / budget, do know or are you assuming?
ii. What are their criteria?
iii. What’s the decision making process? Who else is involved?
iv. What’s your position vs the competition? How do you stack up? What are the competitive threats?
v. What are the variables that effect pricing and profitability? Are they known/ controllable?
vi. Is contingency planning in place for issues / slippages?
- Do you have a clear format for cross functional collaboration to win deals or is it a bit ad hoc?
If you find yourself putting crosses against a few of these questions, that should give you some indications of what you might want to develop and improve to increase your commercial effectiveness.
If you want any help in any of those areas or just to discuss them further contact us for a conversation!