Success Story: Optimization of Existing Sales Processes
Optimization of Existing Sales Processes
"Orders, orders, orders - and as many of them as possible!". In sales, this belief is often lived with passion. The more sales projects you work on, the more orders you get and the higher your company's sales will be. But is this assumption really true?
Practical experience shows that companies very often work on a maximum number of sales projects during the sales phase without paying specific attention to focusing on the most promising and profitable projects for their own company. This leads to higher sales costs than necessary, unnecessary commitment of key personnel in less attractive projects, loss of quality in calculations and concluded contracts due to overloading of the sales project team.
A customer of centerline/ was facing exactly this problem. The task was therefore to optimize the sales process in order to improve competitiveness.
The Initial Situation
A detailed situation analysis revealed several "problem areas":
- 99% of all bid decisions were positive and happened "on instinct"
- Opportunities, risks and effort were rarely evaluated
- There was a lack of exit strategies for low to non-profitable projects
- The costs of the sales projects were often above the estimated bid budget, no cost control, lack of cost awareness in sales
- The handover from sales to execution was in great need of improvement
How could centerline/ Support the Optimization Process?
After analyzing the current status, the new sales process was designed as a stage gate process*. In this specific case, this meant that several stage gates were defined, at each of which the status of the sales process (initial offer prepared, initial offer submitted, offer revision no. X prepared, final negotiation prepared, etc.), the accrued sales costs, and the forecast profitability and profit opportunities were estimated.
The first (initial) bid/no-bid decision was deliberately made not immediately after receipt of an inquiry, as in the past, but only after an initial quick analysis of risks, opportunities and strategic importance. In the case of a bid decision, the sales team had to estimate a budget for the sales project.
The sales team, together with management, always made a conscious decision at the stage gates to continue or terminate the sales project (= controlled exit). This decision was also linked to a further release of the project budget defined in tranches.
Furthermore, the execution team and a professional risk management system were integrated into the sales process in line with the project category.
What This Has Achieved
More conscious project selection
The inhibition threshold to drop out of unprofitable projects (in the middle of the sales process) became lower. Furthermore, exit strategies were consciously considered in order to avoid upsetting customers whose inquiries had previously always been accepted, for example because of good contacts or long-standing business relationships.
Stronger cost awareness
Due to announced exits, customers even corrected their harsh contractual requirements in individual cases (better contractual conditions reduce the risks for plant manufacturers). The position on the market was improved by the "new way of dealing" on the part of the centerline/ customer.
*A stage-gate process consists of several process sections: Specific work steps are carried out in predefined stages. Once a stage is completed, its results are analyzed and scrutinized based on predefined criteria, and a decision is made on whether to continue or discontinue a project (gate).
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