When a PE-backed organisation prepares to deliver its new growth targets, sales teams must step up to bring in significantly more new business. Getting this right is fundamental to success. But, for many businesses, making this step change can feel overwhelming. This is why we make sure our portfolio companies have the sales support they need to succeed.
UnaTerra, one of the companies within PSSG, provides international payroll, PEO, HR, accounting and corporate services to firms planning overseas expansion. As one of our portfolio companies, UnaTerra was itself focused on growth. With big financial targets on the horizon, the business needed to optimise and scale its sales team and prepare to significantly multiply its turnover.
We supported UnaTerra with assistance from one of our Subject Specialists, a curated team of inspirational, hands-on experts with deep topic expertise. They’re available to help our portfolio businesses with everything from employee engagement and HR to product engineering, marketing and sales. This is where Shelley Lavery, a former global Sales Director with over two decades of sales and strategic growth expertise, comes in.
Having set up multiple new sales teams in the UK and the US, Shelley is experienced in delivering performance-enhancing change programmes to deliver sales success.
When Shelley first met UnaTerra, the business had a small sales team bringing in hundreds of thousands of pounds of business each year. Ambitious new targets meant the team needed to secure sales in the low millions to help the business meet its plans.
Initial discussions revealed that UnaTerra knew they needed help. But they weren’t sure exactly what form this should take. This gave Shelley the opportunity to bring all her expertise to bear by consulting with the business and identifying the team’s biggest challenges and priorities. These were to:
- Set the right targets to help the business meet its growth aspirations
- Ensure each member of the sales team was accountable for their delivery
- Grow the sales team to deliver the new targets
With significant sales leadership expertise, Shelley brought a fresh perspective and, more importantly, practical solutions to three key areas.
Organising the sales team
Shelley found that the sales team were organised around the source of each lead, with someone handling leads from Google, someone handling PPC leads and someone handling channel. But customers varied widely within these lead sources. And the salesperson wasn’t able to specialise and build expertise in a specific type of customer challenge or opportunity.
A new way of working was to organise the sales team around customer type by size, situation, opportunity and products. This meant the salesperson could become a specialist dedicated to making that type of customer a success and maximising the available opportunity.
By switching the focus onto the different types of customers the sales team needed to win, Shelley helped UnaTerra:
- Predict the services their customers would buy
- Tailor the approach more specifically to the customer
- Build expertise and experience beneficial to those customers
- Forecast the sales activity needed to close a typical sale
- Work out how many team members were needed to hit the new targets
These core funnel metrics created the strong foundation that Julian Christmas, Chief Revenue Officer, could use to plan his sales targets and activity and, ultimately, organise the team’s expansion.
Optimising lead management and quality
Although UnaTerra had a CRM in place, they were only using a certain portion of the system. This made it impossible to view the entire end-to-end sales process and created a number of other challenges, including difficulties in understanding:
- Where challenges existed with the lead flow
- How each member of the team looked after their leads
- The different levels of performance across the team
- How to fix the lead flow and improve employee performance
By explaining the benefits that using the full sales CRM workflow would bring, Julian and Shelley agreed it would be best to get the sales team to use the system’s lead management tools. This enabled powerful reporting, which quickly identified issues and empowered Julian to solve them.
Another challenge was the standard of the sales team’s leads. The team felt that although they had a lot of leads, a high proportion of them weren’t good quality. This took their time and focus away from more valuable leads.
In response, Shelley introduced a pre-call qualification questionnaire so the team could filter out leads that weren’t a good fit for the business. This helped the team to maximise their efforts and made them even more efficient.
Developing and growing the team
With solid metrics and systems in place, Shelley turned her focus to developing and building the team by:
- Clarifying recruitment – Shelley helped Julian to formalise his recruitment approach so he was clear on who he needed to recruit to deliver the customer-centric sales targets the business needed to hit.
- Supporting new hires – new call coaching, buddying support and guidance were offered to recent and new hires to help them hit the ground running and continuously improve their performance.
- Enhancing performance management – Shelley introduced a more formalised one-to-one review structure, ensuring the right performance conversations were being held with the team to make the most of the talent already in the business.
- Boosting communication – with new targets in place, Shelley introduced a virtual whiteboard so the team could hold regular online sales huddles with a clear focus on their targets and performance. This kept the team on-task and motivated.
- Setting achievable targets – while UnaTerra had some major future sales targets to meet, Shelley ensured that the team didn’t feel overwhelmed by focusing them on securing the next few hundred customers. By securing new business, one chunk at a time, the team felt in control, and that success was possible.
These changes rapidly enhanced the team’s performance, with one employee increasing their sales by 500%. And the good news doesn’t stop there.
With Shelley’s support, UnaTerra’s sales team has changed significantly over the course of a few months, bringing a range of business benefits:
- Sales are up – following the introduction of the new processes, and by capturing and following-up leads, the team achieved its highest-ever sales month. The sales team now regularly brings in multiple times more new business than in previous years.
- Improved agility – with the right sales data in place, UnaTerra could quickly and accurately re-budget following the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. This put the business on the front foot, enabling it to effectively plan and respond at a time of significant upheaval.
- The business is ready to scale – with proven and repeatable recruitment, development and performance management processes in place, UnaTerra is ready to expand its team, hit its targets and deliver its planned growth. Essential outcomes for any PE-backed business.
In line with our culture of support for our portfolio businesses, Shelley remains in contact with UnaTerra, providing the insight and assistance to help the business overcome any unexpected challenges.