Alchemise Insights Interview – 5 minutes with Andrew McFayden – Sales Development Representative

Here is a 5 minute interview for insights with Sales Development Representative,  Andrew McFayden, on tips and what his experience and learnings has been to perform as a successful Sales Development Representative. He shares his view about how the modern customer centric approach is different to traditional lead generation methods which don’t work anymore.


Question 1: What is your view on the role of an Sales Development Representative in today’s market? 

Answer: Andrew 

When I started with Alchemise Consulting it became apparent that the role of the Sales Development Representative today is a unique offering very much different to the standard inside sales positions. While they wear a sales, commercially focus hat, they also need to sit on a marketing chair. What makes this role unique is prior to the 90s (and the digital age of data collection, such as names, phone numbers and email addresses, etc), the marketing department/agency was engaged to attract the customer and compel them to pick up the phone or walk through the door. The sales people then qualified those that walked in and then proceeded with the sale process.

Today the Inside Sales Role (ISR) or Sales Development Role (SDR) performs a bridging function between the two business units and in part prospects/researches and initially qualifies the contacts before introducing the sales team/contact to follow through with closing the sale.

Where the role is able to be fed qualified contact lists from established sales enabled processes, it facilitates the efficiency and focus of the position to facilitate the commercial outcome needed for the business.


Question 2: Have you needed to be more sales or marketing focussed in your day to day activities?

Answer: Andrew 

My focus in the role has been more on sales to qualify the prospect while balancing this with the marketing aspect of researching and profiling, looking for online triggers relating to the companies and challenges/changes that the company may be going through that are relevant to begin initial engagement. This balance of both sales and marketing understanding provides the experience with focus on being customer centric.


Question 3:  Is relevant industry experience or sales experience required, for example to market technology based solutions or high value services?

Answer: Andrew 

Having industry experience for ISRs does provide value with the comprehension of the on the ground language when speaking with the prospective contacts, especially with the acronym saturated Information Technology world. If this is a gap in the ISR’s comprehension and it is not addressed early in the engagement of the ISR then confidence in phone discussion will not be present. This can also lead to misinterpreting key information that is conveyed by the contact. When talking with people in the industry, trying to ‘fake it till you make it’, will destroy the ISR’s credibility.


Question 4: What specific skills/experience and approach do you need to develop to increase your success in the role? 

Answer: Andrew 

As mentioned above, understanding of the industry vertical jargon is important for the Inside Sales or Sales Development Representative. Of equal importance also is the mental fortitude, resilience to be able to shake rejection off, like water off a ducks back. Being phone (trigger) happy as opposed to phone (gun) shy is vital to have in this role. I believe that having an approach of being willing and able to speak to anyone would be an ingrained quality/skill in your ISR. Making numerous calls in a focussed way is also another key requisite of the role.

If the ISR has a customer service/centric approach to the position, in that they are looking at ways that they are able to help their prospective contacts will also be of benefit to the business, the client and success in the role. If the skills and experience are needing fine tuning then having someone to coach you is vital to future success. The other key skill that needs to be developed is common courtesy. Lacking this level of etiquette can ruin the business reputation fast.


Question 5: How did your manager help mentor or guide you in bridging the gap between sales & marketing as a team?

Answer: Andrew 

With the above mentioned, it is worth stating that even with the skills that I started with at the beginning of the engagement. There were additional areas of learning that were also needed. I found being able to verify some of the unfamiliar industry speak, along with a higher level of industry understanding from Chak Ng, greatly assisted with my own knowledge gaps and approach not to mention the guidance on courses best to take that would further improve my own skill set. This highlights the importance of working together and keeping the communication lines open. Working as a team as opposed to having a siloed approach is one of the stark differences, I have seen with Alchemise Consulting as opposed to other organisations that I have engaged with previously.


Question 6:  How did the use of marketing and sales tools CRM/marketing automation help you in your role? i.e HubSpot value.

Answer: Andrew 

Part of this is having processes in place to ensure smooth engagement, a team approach, the use of a CRM that is more intuitive and of value straight out of the box, along with the marketing automation that the tool supplies were of great assistance. The tools and automation enabled me to gain visibility on prospect interactions, thus being able to reach out when the contact had viewed the content/communication that was sent to them and not fly blind and pester the contact when they have been busy with BAU issues that draw their attention. The analytics also provided insight into being able to understand which part of the (PDF) communication was viewed and for how long. This was especially true when used in campaigns.


Question 7: What type of training did you required for each campaign?

Answer: Andrew 

As for the campaigns the additional training that was undertaken was very much bespoke to each business that was engaged with. Knowing the client’s business in preparation with being onsite, immersing and spending time within their business  or reading through additional marketing collateral along with a content map to furnish individual material relevant to prospect discussions. In addition to this any cultural idiosyncrasies relating to geographic region was also required. This all comes down to distinctions or details of the engagement. Without the additional research and pertinent information, it would have been difficult to achieve the results that were gained.


Question 8:  How important is preparation during a campaign setup and which aspects are vital to having a chance of success? 

Answer: Andrew 
This comes back to the initial preparation when starting a campaign. Which as mentioned previously comes down to understanding what the client’s needs are and also making sure that all systems, tools, internal contacts/stakeholders and needed processes are in place before starting the engagement. While I have been at Alchemise I have seen other clients who have adopted a cowboy, gung ho approach and have not realised the success that they were hoping for. When you consider the capital outlay and personal reputations put on the line, it is exceptionally important that informed preparatory ground work be in place prior to implementation of on the ground activities.


Question 9: Can you share two examples where the use of a sales enablement process worked well and what type of customer engagement made sure everyone was in sync?

Answer: Andrew 

A client event set one month in advance is an example of the preparation needed that provided a tangible result through the use of a sales enablement. A list of relevant enterprise companies where supplied by the marketing department and additional scripts and supporting collateral. This facilitated confident discussions with supporting documentation that could be supplied to clients that was relevant to their position in the company. The result was 19 pre-registrations were booked in from C-Level contacts for the event in this time period.

Another example was for another organisation providing Cloud management services that needed to warm up a list that had gone cold due to the timing of the previously implemented campaign by a 3rd party. Scripts were put in place with along collateral marketing material. The use of a CRM that supplied analytical information on individual contact engagement also enabled me to further successfully interact with prospective contacts. The result on this engagement was in just 30 days, from 200 contacts, we achieved 53 leads, 23 MQLs and 8 SQLs.


Question 10: How did you measure success in the campaigns? Can you give me an example of where greater conversion was achieved?

Answer: Andrew 

With each of these two examples above the success was measured in initial qualified preregistrations for the event and with the second engagement it was a pre defined qualification process on what stipulated a MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead), SQL (Sales Qualified lead) and leads that needed further nurturing.


Question 11: What would you suggest to a company that is searching for more leads and approach to lead generation?

Answer: Andrew 

With qualified leads being vital to a company’s survival, I would suggest that with other companies with their own lead generation process, that they work out exactly who they are looking to reach. Have a sound marketing strategy in place with supporting marketing collateral. Define what success will look like with the commercial return that is expected with a set time frame.


Question 12: What is your advice to the many start-up and SME companies you have spoken in the last 12 months about their business growth aspirations?

Answer: Andrew 

For the companies in the last 12 months that I previously spoke to there have been some real observations and useful tips about handling some growth obstacles.

  1. Don’t engage with a creative company unless you have a defined plan on what the commercial return will look like.
  2. Ensure that the agency defines the process that they plan to implement to generate leads.
  3. Make sure that the leads generated are categorised into levels with each level clearly defined so it can be prioritised. If your creative agency is not able to at least provide marketing qualified leads from the work that is undertaken then this should be a warning sign for you.

For more insights about how Inside Sales and Sales Development process and resources can increase performance and conversion, please look at these previous blogs.

To read more about our recent sales and marketing insights and related articles please visit our

Alchemise Consulting News link.

Good luck in 2019!  To kick start your year, we would like to offer you our FREE E-Book on “How to increase your profits with 7 Profit Multipliers!

 

Are you reflecting about your 2019 plans and where you need help with Sales Development or Inside Sales structure, processes or resources?  Feel free to contact us for an initial discussion about your sales & marketing challenges and to book in your independent health check. We can demonstrate specific value by identifying where we can help you and your business accelerate your sales engagement and increase your sales development performance and effectiveness.

Contact Alchemise Consulting at  info@alchemiseconsulting.com or @alchemise_cons or call our office on +61(3) 9225 5022.

 

Alchemise Business Growth Newsletter #8 – Q2 – 2018/19

Business Growth Newsletter Edition #8 

Q2 2018-19 – December 2018

Alchemise Sales & Marketing Market Wrap 2018

Welcome to our final quarterly newsletter for the year and hope you are looking forward to a well earned Christmas holiday break!

To close off this year, we wanted to highlight our top sales & marketing insights during the year for your reflection and awareness over the break…

Measuring the right ROI is more important than ever before

Marketing-ROI

This year we have still seen many businesses not be able to measure the effectiveness of marketing spend. The typical average benchmark that seems to still be a measure is 5% spend of revenue, however this is still not enough for many digital marketing initiatives for lead generation and brand awareness.

The maturity of the local market seems to still require much awareness and reason to shift into a growth mindset. Unless you are willing to try and seek the right help, the same patterns will be repeated over and over again. Is doing nothing or not changing an option for the viability of your business model to scale?

If you can adopt a scientific approach with the right data, your insights and results will be tangible.

Here is an example of what is possible to measure ROI as a starting point by aligning your sales and marketing goals.

DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE ROI CALCULATOR

Smarter demand generation for technology marketing campaigns

It is possible to achieve better than industry marketing standard conversion rates for lead nurturing and lead generation campaigns for complex technology services/solutions.

With the challenges of reaching out to your contacts, social and content based engagement needs more personalisation of the right type of content and also context. To do this you need to understand what type of challenges they might have,  how you can provide value or help them to solve these challenges and when is an appropriate time to be front of mind to them.

If you would like to find out how you can also take a different customer centric process and approach to achieve 20%+ success rate then call us to discuss how we achieved this for our client.

Here is a snapshot of the results in just one month!
customers by lifecycle stage

Are you willing to do something different to get a different result if you feel you aren’t getting the results you need? We can share some insights around how…

Also don’t miss our latest Case Study: Digital Realty drives APAC Hyper-Scale, Multi Cloud Data Centre Campaign with Alchemise Consulting.

Inbound 2018 – HubSpot Customer Flywheel

A fundamental shift was announced to the HubSpot business model at this year’s conference. The complete customer lifecycle isn’t just a funnel but positions the customer in the centre of all sales, marketing and service/customer focused interactions.

Introducing the customer flywheel – The shift from funnel to a sales, marketing and service/customer centric focus:

Funnel-to-flywheel-hubspot

For more information about the shift published in Harvard Business Review by the CEO of HubSpot, Brian Halligan please click here.

The philosophy of shifting the traditional full funnel to a flywheel concept makes sense in putting the customer at the centre of your business.

Business partner succession and risk planning 


Our first Business Growth Workshop earlier this year featured our guest speakers from Maxsum Consulting and Macquarie Group. A real situation arising from many business owners is the lack of succession planning or risk management within the business or between partners. AlchemiseWorkshop_MaxSum Jun 18

When involved in a business partnership have you thought about planning your exit strategy or growth strategy and how to mitigate business risk?  Your hard work and wealth needs to be protected by having the right buy/sell agreements or succession plans in place. 

More information can be obtained from us about the first steps with an initial discussion – reach out to us to start the conversation.

Why did your marketing campaign fail?

If you are not achieving your ROI or wondering why your marketing efforts aren’t reaping the rewards of sales results, then let us share some insights as to why you may need to take a different approach. Alchemise Consulting-Feedback

We are seeking to hear from approximately 200 business owners or sales and marketing managers to share how they have felt and what their experience has been in their marketing campaigns’ success, failure or ROI expectations and why.

Our Alchemise Survey for ‘Why my marketing campaign failed’ is still open for your input. We will share our insights once we complete the survey during 1H 2019.

CLICK HERE TO COMPLETE OUR MARKETING CAMPAIGN INSIGHTS QUESTIONNAIRE

Strategic go-to-market and new market entry considerations

We have spoken to many start-ups and more established businesses looking to enter Australia or grow into other markets on limited capital and funding to scale, including those working with investor funding.

BLOG – Start-up businesses: Capital raising and ROI

I understand margins are tight and the drive to scale to grow in exploring other markets or new segments can be a good strategic move. However, I wanted to highlight that it’s best to get some independent help to test the go-to-market and market entry position with research and feasibility studies (across financial, sales and marketing aspects) before launching your product or services.

CASE STUDY – Go-to-market strategy – Australian telco solutions provider

There may be some pitfalls to consider and analyse first with a strategic go-to-market plan such as:

  • Testing the revenue and profit model
  • Understanding your cash burn rate and payback period of investment.
  • What is your go-to-market strategy for the local market/segment?
  • How do you develop initial brand awareness?
  • What is your sales and marketing go-to-market plan including resources, process and systems to support your growth?

We are offering a Digital Readiness Assessment as part of an initial self discovery (including digital identity risk check) if you are interested.

digital-readiness-assessment

Our Top 10 most Popular Blogs in 2018

Our top ten headline blogs and case studies this year… Alchemise-Consulting-Top-10-Blogs-2018

  1. Case Study – IBM business partner drives up lead conversion rate by 25% 
  2. Blog – My customer experience: 5 ways a major Australian department store failed to deliver
  3. Insights Video – How to turn your website into a customer centric approach 
  4. Blog – How business owners can maintain focus and discipline for success
  5. Blog – Reflections on global business: Diversity, leadership and experience
  6. Blog – Software start-up businesses: What is your sales and marketing plan? 
  7. Blog – How do you protect your business identity and digital risk? 
  8. Case Study – Sales and marketing strategy: Australian HR advisory firm
  9. Blog – 9 steps to calculate your sales and marketing ROI
  10. Case Study – What sales commission do I pay my new sales BDM hire?

Looking forward into 2019…

Alchemise-2019-calendar Don’t forget to take the opportunity to reflect on the past year, but also to kickstart and set aside time to work ON your business in 2019, not just on blue sky ideas but getting help to become clear on your business purpose and goals.

If you are looking for more information or to arrange an initial consultation with us, please contact us. Email us at info@alchemiseconsulting.com or start the conversation on Twitter @alchemise_cons, otherwise feel free to phone our Melbourne office on +61 (3) 9225 5022.

We wish our valued clients, partners and friends a
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Software start-up businesses: What is your sales and marketing plan?

This blog is part of a start-up series…
Part 1 is available here, if you missed it!

Start-up founders 

This blog piece is intended for a general overview based for a broad spectrum of audience to provide awareness based on examples of many people we have spoken to over in recent years who are venturing out for the first time on their own. We are not referring to serial entrepreneurs who have been very successful in business already.

It has seems a recent observation for successful engineers or IT professionals to venture into entrepreneurship and business ownership as a start up an aspiration. Commonly in a joint business partnership or sole trader may have seasoned commercial or sales and marketing acumen in their team initially.

For some, despite initial quick success it’s still a case of a feature/benefits or referral sell with not a solid go to market plan or strategic approach considered. Are you playing the short game or long game and reverse engineering your desired outcomes over chosen timeline?

Tip: Ask for help early to build an A-team of specialist advisors around you, and be willing to invest to help you test your concept, develop your go-to-market strategy and help build your foundations so you can scale.

Capital and funding

We have seen many start-ups run out of capital very quickly as they haven’t planned out their investment and costs required. For software application development it’s a never ending sunk cost to build the platform foundation from open source platforms and constantly improvement to evolve your offering for customer experience and integrations or address functional bug fixes etc.. If you are a services business the capital requires strong cashflow, securing good resources and a solid sales & marketing strategy for short term success. 

Are you releasing a feature update every month or 3 months or 6 months, or ad hoc? How much budget is required with your onshore or offshore development team? If your sales cycles are longer without the revenue incoming and tested go to market plan, how can you sustain short term investment decisions for growth?

A large portion of costs is initially to setup and progress from concept stage to prototype or beta release for testing . Is there a market for your app and where? There are so many variables to consider in this dynamic, fast moving and crowded marketplace.

Are you aware of Government funding programs such as Austrade Export Market Grant Funding (EMDG) or Department of Innovation, Industry and Science R&D Grant Funding Options?

Have you checked out your local council incentive programs for small business owners starting out?

Tip: Assess realistically and budget for your capital expenditure and cashflow to get a test platform off the ground without overcapitalising, prior to getting any customer end user feedback or usability assessment.


Strategy Go To Market plan: What is your Sales and Marketing approach for B2B or B2C?

start-up-sales-marketing

As a brand new home owner or developer, would you build a house with a builder without going through a planning process first using an architect or draftsperson?

As a captain of your boat, would you set sail in a boat without knowing which direction and compass map or GPS settings are required first?

In business, especially during the start-up stage, it’s the same to plot or determine the course you wish to take and solidify it on a blueprint first. It may not be the perfect plan or at least it helps provide a targeted direction of what is required to get from point A to point B and purpose.

However the investment of time and seeking advice to formulate the right plan seems to be considered in reverse order – ad hoc first before structuring something of a business plan or sales or marketing strategy.

For any go to market consideration you need to understand your business customers first and what problem or solution you can help them solve. In order to monetise your product or services the value of what your offer and charge reflects the urgency or size/complexity of the problem you are solving for your customer.

Too often I have seen little analysis about the financials including realistic cashflow, profit margins and also sales planning and how to create brand awareness through targeted marketing investments – this often seems to be an afterthought.

Tip: We suggest utilising an ROI calculator such as ours or establishing your objectives first: 


Sales Pipeline and Revenue model


We have found many perceived valuations of a business model untested and unproven to attract a buyer is like angel investing…

No real customers = No real dollars despite future projections. Let’s be real here.

Once a external capital round is raised, the pressure is on to deliver ROI to the stakeholders, every request and return for dollar asked is scrutinised about the real viability of the business model and financial returns to the shareholders.

When I have asked many business owners for some pricing numbers about the subscribers needed for their model to break-even in Year 1, or Year 2, many seem to be a pie in the sky guesstimate or hypothesised without some solid tested projections.

business-strategy-start-up

When I further question where and who is their target market, I haven’t received many solid, thoroughly thought out answers but a more whimsical ‘kind of’ or ‘generally’ description.

Without a solid business plan and sales and marketing Go To Market strategy worked through and tested first, many start-up app ideas never will get off the ground due to lack of planning or asking for help first from a business advisor or sales and marketing consultant.

There is a saying that family and business do not mix, this is true to some extent that emotions can influence some of the initial decisions from founders, especially those without some business background or sales/ marketing experience.

At the end of the day you might want to pursue a passion or great idea like many entrepreneurs, however if you are still relying on your job and/or regular income with a mortgage over your head, some of the path to exploring this can be mitigated by being strategic and planning ahead for your financial position, capital investment plan for growth and thinking about your purpose – whether it’s to scale and build a large business or just to replace your income and eventually exit by selling your business.

Make sure you think about your profitability and revenue first as well as market test your pricing strategy for how you will monetise your great software app idea.

TIP: Spending some time for an independent sanity check with a workshop or advice for your concept and business model with the right independent business professionals and also your potential customer base might save you time and sweat equity in getting your idea off the ground or determining if it is feasible.

Here is an example of one of how one of our New Market Entry Feasibility Assessment played out.

Start-up resources

Thinking about if you hire in-house or outsource, what parts of your start-up business and investment cost are required?

The cost of hiring a team of marketing resources like a social media manager, digital strategist, copywriter, graphic designer and web designer all add to the overhead costs of the business and initial investment to build your team.

As we know, the cost of skilled labour in Australia is one of the highest in the world. However is outsourcing functionally  to Asia or other parts of the world still an answer? Are you sacrificing quality over lower costs or lack of your own process and systems? Have you thought about a scalable model to access senior experienced resources that will only cost you a fraction of a FTE hire or long term contractor?

What are the must-have sunk costs, and what are the optional non-revenue generating costs?

How will you generate sales to your customers? Will it by distribution model or direct sales? Will you be paying commissions out of the sale or from your profit margin?

TIP: Consider what sales and marketing resources you need initially and budget required if you hired internally. Can you source alternative and flexible methods to deliver the same function at lower cost and higher ROI until the business model is proven.

 In closing…

There are many practical and commercial considerations from this blog series about when start ups look at determining funding requirements and capital raising approaches. Most importantly from our perspective we can provide experience in how to utilise this funding once secured with a solid sales & marketing go to market plan and leadership from several years within the tech sector and working with business owners to drive growth.

Feel free to contact us for an initial discussion on how we can help you and your business, from start-up to growth mode, at info@alchemiseconsulting.com or @alchemise_cons or call our office on +61392255022.

How live chat accelerated a new inbound sales lead

Overview – Why do you need to have Live Chat?

The importance of Digital customer service led sales and marketing channels offering LIVE CHAT on your business website is NOT OPTIONAL anymore with B2B and B2C engagement. With the progression of customer service automation to ChatBots, AI and Live Chat engines, you don’t know where and when your next inbound prospective sales opportunity might come from – so BE PREPARED to have the capability to be responsive 24 x 7 or be available to engage without delay or you will miss out on new business enquiry for your pipeline!

The Initial Customer Journey “Live Chat” User Case – National IT Services Business

A leading national IT services business needed some assistance to develop their Inside Sales Team process and growth.  The General Manager made an enquiry as a new lead through our website using live chat options as the communication channel of preference.

The customer buying process identified is summarised below and as a result of investment in building a content and contextual driven strategy once the target customer profile was development and understood:

1) There was a need for assistance to see who could help in the local marketplace.

2) Google keyword search performed 

  • How to build Inside Sales teams
  • How to develop Inside Sales processes

3) One of Alchemise Consulting’s blog came up in the results organically SEO ranked on the first page.

https://alchemiseconsulting.com/how-inside-sales-drives-lead-generation/

4) The initial enquiry was made from our Hubspot Conversations website chat room 

live-chat-alchemise-consulting

5) Our Alchemise Inside Sales Consultant was notified of this in real time and was able to respond from his mobile application within one minute to respond to the request and then switch channels to convert the lead to a phone based outbound call within five minutes.

6) After an initial marketing qualified lead (MQL) discovery discussion opportunity was identified, this was converted to a sales qualified lead (SQL) with a meeting set that same week with the key stakeholders/decision makers.

7) Following the initial prospective client meeting a proposal was delivered within the same week with a solution.

As you can see from the example the acceleration from top of funnel to bottom of funnel within a one week timeline was due to a two minute response time from being found on Google Search from organic SEO for an evergreen content piece, the live chat lead was developed from initial customer service to sales engagement and new well qualified opportunity for the sales pipeline.

Our solution

We have been running Salesforce CRM and HubSpot marketing automation with a Live Chat (Hubspot Conversations feature) on our homepage to allow us to capture and qualify any real leads quickly. It has a round robin team feature for any defined “customer agent” to pick up live and be notified automatically that a new web enquiry has come in within message inbox.

From a customer experience and journey mapping exercise, we choose to offer our prospective customers the options for phone, email, contact us or live chat. This was not enabled as just a pre-scripted AI programmed chat bot which allows us to deepen each live chat engagement initially.

Outcomes

As part of the shift to a 360 degree flywheel approach by HubSpot, this was not just a two-dimensional traditional marketing to sales funnel, our distinct customer centric approach allowed us to: 

  1. Add value to this new prospect
  2. Respond quickly to their timelines
  3. Position our value proposition in person with a meeting with the two key stakeholders/project sponsors
  4. Lead with a proposal ahead of the two other competitors within a week

Subject to the budgeting cycle and project priorities we have quickly used inbound digital channels from content marketing to a sales qualified engagement to accelerate our sales process with this leading national IT services prospect.

Key takeaways & learnings

What I wanted to highlight is a textbook example of how the investment in sales enablement, CRM/marketing automation platform, customer experience and live chat channels can help sales team accelerate their sales process to reduce the ‘friction’ for customers to engage with us.

The lead response time enabled us to convert the warm lead within one minute response time instead of a 24 to 48 hour telephone call back response time from sales allowed us to shorten the sales funnel cycle from MQL to SQL.

Using a marketing automation tool like HubSpot allowed us to monitor, log and respond to our potential customer quickly and at the right time.

The role of the Inside Sales Representative or Sales Development Representative today needs to also be multi-skilled with digital omni-channel customer service support skills and experience to handle inbound and outbound customer interaction dynamically.

The role of the traditional telemarketer based on cold calling is at risk and needs to diversify skillsets into social and digital sales whilst having the ability to be customer centric. Most importantly it’s understanding how to really build trust and off value to your prospective clients during outbound and inbound multichannel interactions ( up to the prospect’s choice of communication channel).

We talk about bridging the gap between sales and marketing and this experience shared shows how easily the digital channel of experience can provide immediate ROI.

A traditional example in contrast which DOESN’T WORK for customer engagement today

How this unified communications/contact centre services company just missed out on a new genuine lead enquiries and needs to digitally transform their sales & marketing approach.

It is most ironic that this well established Australian service provider sells contact centre and unified communication solutions but do they really practice what they preach?

In just having two communication channels on their website – contact us for the Melbourne office with a 1300 or local direct dial number.

live-chat-inbound

Upon calling their office three times over a two hour period, and pressing every option on their IVR systems:

1 – for Customer Support
2 – for Sales
3 – for Accounts
4 – for Reception

The common response was SILENCE; each channel option rang out or was put onto a dial forward to the next department but no voicemail or diversion to a real person.

As more and more companies choose to reduce cost with reception or a front office what will happen with this silence which makes it challenge for genuine enquiries to get through on the phone or someone to assist. It seems like the reachability in this digital age is becoming less focused on customer service with a reduction of communication channel choices to cater for broad demographic access. 

Look out for our upcoming blog around “The impact of silence”

For a new customer lead enquiry this wasn’t a promising start, especially when I was trying to reach the Sales Director. When I eventually reached him, I asked if he was aware of this inbound challenge to get through to someone either in Sydney or Melbourne office and how many more new sales leads he might have missed! What a shame it would be if it was the next $1M deal that another competitor won from their lack of availability to be contacted from an inbound call.

To find out more how you to can stop a leaky funnel effect or not miss out on valuable new inbound leads with LIVE CHAT, please contact us for a confidential discussion and we can review your requirements first to assist.

If you would like another example of how inbound marketing automation helped us close a new client deal in just 10 days – please click here for our blog. 

4 tips for sales commission in services businesses

How do I pay sales commission to sales representatives in a services business?

 

Did you miss our case study from when we assisted a full service marketing agency to set the right sales compensation plan for their first Sales BDM hire

The right sales commission plan is critical to your first and subsequent hires, particularly within a new or growing business. Some of the considerations and challenges raised in this blog are particularly relevant to business owners or directors who have come from a non sales background who might be unsure where to start.

Some practical tips for structuring sales commission and planning: 


1) Preparation and planning

  • Consider the line of business you are in and what the market rates are for your industry sector.
  • Talk to some of your industry peers about their experiences.
  • Do your research with some benchmark insights or recruitment reports.

2) Sales budget on FTE (Full Time Employment)

  • Know your financial figures first in terms of your operational and fixed overhead costs, average profit margins and revenue goals.
  • How long are your average sales cycles per service? This determines how your sales pipeline can be developed to reach your monthly required targets based on speed and size.
  • Do you know your cost of sale and what type of sale you are making – invoice upon delivery or on purchase order?
  • Have you calculated your sales revenue targets and established what is realistically achievable?

3) Individual role requirements

  • Do you receive payment on invoice or signing of a contract upfront?
  • Do you need to consider any client KPIs or credits?
  • Are you paying the commission coming out of the client pricing profit margin or from a revenue target?
  • Different structures are appropriate for different businesses and the type of services and products you are selling.
  • Is your sales hire going to be responsible for acquisition or retention business and accounts?

4) Commission considerations 

  • Is it a flat fee percentage uncapped?
  • Do you have a staged payment plan or bonus plan for the team?
  • Have you considered if a contract is cancelled or mis-sold what happens to the commission component?
  • Is there a sliding scale achievement plan based on monthly quotas and for overachievement?
  • Is there a team component to incentivise and motivate team performance around ongoing account engagement or retaining high value accounts?
  • If you are to set a foundation standard, ensure that this will be consistent with how you pay different sales people in the future.
  • Consider how to continuously keep the sales people motivated – what happens if they overachieve or underachieve depending on your sales cycle?sales-commission

Sales commission and planning – what next?


Often smaller or growing services businesses don’t have a structured sales plan, rather the sales responsibilities may be shared between the team.

There is a correlation that sales performance and behaviour is determined by the sales plan and culture created by an organisation. Leadership from the business owner or sales manager needs to develop this.

Sometimes a multi level sales compensation plan is required to guide the sales person to sell the right services, i.e. higher profit managed or retainer services versus a product based transactional model.

sales-commission-planning

If you pay commission on annual or monthly revenue targets without any breakdown then this can lead to account issues and a disincentive to cross sell and upsell with existing or new clients for the year to maximize the revenue opportunity. 

From my experience, the delicate balance of designing a sales compensation plan to support one individual may also need to consider other sales team members, either existing or future hires. The role of the sales leader and business owner here is to develop the right sales strategies and financial budgets and targets, aligned to the sales objectives. 

I don’t have, or recommend, a one size fits all sales compensation model for the purpose of this article, however I can provide some scenarios to different business models – but it’s advised to arrange a consultation and customised solution and approach as required designed to specifically to suit your sales objectives and needs.

If you haven’t come from a sales background or a business owner, this might need more elaboration…. Do I pay a base and commission split of 50 base:50 commission, 60:40 or 70:30 split, or do I consider a shared risk 40:60 (60% at risk component)? Perhaps a guaranteed commission structure or a bonus might be more appropriate.

Look out for our next article around sales commission and compensation examples and scenarios which also apply to you, “How do I pay sales people for acquisition sales or retention sales? 

In the meantime, if you are starting out building your sales team or first sales hire, please reach out to us for assistance or advice in making the right choices at info@alchemiseconsulting.com or @alchemise_cons or call our office on +61392255022 – or click below for a consultation on everything sales, including sales performance and compensation structure! 

 

Case study: What sales commission do I pay my new sales BDM hire?


The right sales compensation plan is critical to your first hire with a new or growing business. Some of the considerations and challenges raised in this example are particularly relevant to business owners or directors who have come from a non sales background who might be unsure where to start.

Overview

A fast growing leading Melbourne full service marketing agency was recently looking to hire their first salesperson to join their successful team, and  shift their focus for active sales growth.

Prior to this new sales focus, sales activity was led by one of the Directors and other sales responsibilities were shared between the Digital Strategist and the Project Management team.

To some extent this hindered their ability to service existing clients and also build a new business funnel with a targeted focus for growth. In earlier days, this marketing agency has historically had more transactional business  and strong referral leads  than focusing on generating ongoing retainer engagements and developing new business sales capability.

Growing a sales team: Making your first sales hire

The marketing agency had decided, after an initial interview and shortlisting process, to hire a Senior Business Development Manager with general market rates and to provide an offer. 

The initial challenge was how to pay them a suitable commission package in line with the direction of agency’s services and business growth plans.

Initially a flat fixed percentage plan was discuss on a high base salary. However, management were initially unaware of the many factors that needed to be considered in sales performance management. A clear aim wasto actively grow the number of new sales opportunities and through certain preferred service lines.

4 sales compensation considerations


This agency is in the process of shifting to a higher value retainer model from transactional project based or time based work. This needs to be considered in how sales plans and commission structure are determined and set.

  • Sales goals for the financial year sales-compensation
  • Services priority – retainer-based, projects and renewals
  • Cashflow and encouragement of team based culture
  • Not having an open ended commission plan initially, until aligned with business and financial objectives.

Proposed client solution.


The agency’s initial view was to offer a flat rate percentage commission.
 

Upon review and with additional market insights, that suggestion didn’t quite make sense given the focus of revenue and profit required in the business to make this successful for both short term with the sales person, and also for establishing a foundation for business growth. The other consideration was to create the ability to scale the sales team in the future beyond Year 1. 

Considerations

When you are looking at sales compensation structures you need to look at the sales function of either retention focus (account management) or acquisition focus (business development) as both of these have an intrinsic mode of sales behaviour and associated type of sales approach.

From a sales structure typically the behaviour of your sales team is based on the incentive you set them. If you are a products or transactional business then sometime this top heavy loading on revenue on order might work from metrics focused on volume and size of revenue.

sales-hire-compensation-balanceIn the professional services area, this principle doesn’t apply and a delicate balance needs to be achieved between blending in gross profit margins for healthy financial considerations, a realistic and achievable individual target (particularly for a growth focused SMB/SME), the balance of acquisition and delivery capabilities, and the consideration of which types of services are best placed to sell during the customer buying lifecycle.

Different compensation plans need to be considered for acquisition mode sales and also retention sales plans, or perhaps a hybrid if the sales resource is responsible for both.

Being a full service marketing agency, most of the business’ client work is project based, and in recognising this, there was a discussion about the risk of setting targets too low – if the Senior BDM were to overachieve easily based on revenue early in the year, then there is always a risk that little motivation and monetary incentive exist for the remainder of the year. This can greatly degrade the productivity of the sales function if rewards for consistent performance aren’t put into place.

Our Sales ROI review highlighted that by aligning the sales strategy, a split commission element needed to be put into place, based on the expected contract renewals focus whilst helping the project team with securing the additional business, cross selling and up-selling.

Aligning the sales targets in line with a tightly linked compensation plan needed to be formulated realistically with the considerations in mind.

We provided some sales based guidance around reverse engineering their sales revenue target and direction of sales and marketing activity required to hit their sales goals for the next financial year.

Improve Your Performance Concept in Flat Design with Long Shadows.

The process of determining a break-even ROI on a sales hire is important as they will typically (depending on the industry) generate about three times the sales pipeline value of their individual sales target.

The challenge of ramp-up time and a comprehensive onboarding process is often not considered, with unrealistic expectations on the sales representative to successfully close business within their first month to justify their hire.

We provided a compensation calculation based on the right behaviour in line with the suite of services to be sold based on setting the right targets and appropriate commission elements to suit the individual’s needs and agency’s business focus.

Recommendations and Outcome

After sending through a compiled market survey from leading recruitment reports to validate market rates, the appropriate sales commission plan needed to be structured correctly and fairly to meet short term and longer term sales goals and a foundation which can scale. 

For sales representatives, typically a base salary component and a OTE (On Target Earnings) is provided based on their sales target.

For Year 1 there was more importance on setting up the foundation, then progressing to Year 2 when the commission plan could be reviewed based on performance in Year 1.

After consideration and analysis of the business’ services and financial plan, our proposed plan consisted of:

sales-hire-next-steps-plan

A commission plan tied into three elements:

  • Revenue for all project and services (Total Contract Value)
  • Retainer Profit (Gross Profit)
  • Team component for new business renewal and contribution (End of FY Team Bonus)

This equals the Year 1 target to hit their new business sales goal.

The structure for Year 2 can be negotiated depending on initial performance and tracking of realistic achievements, as well as a review from Year 1 to determine the success or challenges faced with this method. 

Key takeaways and summary

For SMEs unfamiliar with how to compensate experienced sales people, I would suggest to not just think or assume that the simple plan or flat rate or % commission is sufficient, particularly in small business where cashflow is tight and profit margins are slim. You need to know your market and territory to assign as well as which market segment you are trying to sell into.

If you aren’t diligent in this approach to paying to a sales commission plan and target setting, whether it’s a junior or senior hire, you could risk exposure to overpaying your individual sales resource. A secondary effect is further reducing profit margins to keep them sufficiently motivated if they can achieve their sales target too quickly and easily. 

In highlighting this, it is critical to understand where you are paying commissions from, are this cost built into your service contract and deal, or overall based on your gross profit margins.  Your ability to scale and grow your sales teams requires some analysis on where your ROI can be generated from.

You need to know your business figures thoroughly, such as individual overheads and sunk costs, and impacts on GST and superannuation payments. Fundamentally you need to know your financial forecast of revenue and profit margins first to determine whether you can onboard the right investment in sales headcount and budget to start with. 

The other tip is to ensure that you mutually review the goals regularly and separate commission plans with performance reviews to ensure your growth plans are in line with business needs.

As you grow the sales function within your team and business, building that consistent foundation is recommended with the right sales performance advisor until you are ready to hire a sales manager. Consider the temporary impact of sales resource turnover or ongoing challenges to grow future sales hires.


For more information or an obligation free consultation or guidance please contact us at info@alchemiseconsulting.com or call our office +613 9225 5022.

 

Alchemise Business Growth Newsletter #7 – Q1 – 2018/19


September 2018

Business Growth Newsletter Edition #7 – Q1 2018/19 

Current Market Trends and Observations

It’s increasingly concerning that busy professionals are not making the time or effort to plan in the business. It seems many sales managers and business owners are busy chasing immediate deals and sales revenue without thinking how to scale or systemise their business beyond the next month or quarter.

At the heart of this sales behaviour consideration for customer success and experience needs to be thought about. Can you integrate the sales process and enablement into customer success and with your marketing awareness to service clients holistically to ensure that retention rates and reduction for the cost of acquisition can be achieved? 

We can all relate that New Year’s Eve resolutions can only be kept if there is commitment and intention first, once it is written down commitment turns into an actionable item if you put a date by which the goal or action needs to be achieved.

If I look at the recruitment sites, we have also seen a higher turnover of sales staff between vendors and suppliers. I think an average of 12 months to 18 months in the ICT sector can be experienced for some companies.

Perhaps a glue to all this comes back to leadership teams deciding to align sales and marketing objectives first then seeking some strong management business cases presented to obtain the investment that is needed to grow a business consistently.


Business Owner Challenges

Our recently released information video outlines some key challenges faced by business owners which we consistently hear. 

Well there is a way forward!

  • Mindset – Willing and wanting to make time
  • Having a good idea doesn’t mean commercial success
  • Have no plan isn’t a wise move if you want to scale and attract the right customers without investing in a strategy.

Business Owners – Does this sound like you?
How to address your sales & marketing challenges with growing your business
… Watch the video here:

Business owner video_play


Inbound 2018

Inbound2018-1

In recently coming back from Boston US with 22,000 people attending the Inbound 2018 conference with end users, marketing agencies and digital agencies attending, this is front of mind with this newsletter.

At Inbound 2018, the concept of the flywheel was explained as a shift away from the traditional marketing and sales funnel:

Funnel to full flywheel

Source: HubSpot 

Customer, Marketing and Sales flywheel to shift away the full marketing and sales funnel. The customer is at the core of everything an organisation does but you need to remove the friction to deliver a smooth customer experience including sales engagement and also connected to your marketing activities.

The emphasis is all about customer first at your core with delight, then being able to continue to engaging and attracting customers within the sales and marketing functions.

Reducing customer or buyer friction will help build growth momentum that builds up energy and if you think of it in terms of a three ingredient growth engine that is what help drive forward this growth approach.

To me this makes sense as a continuous feedback integrated approach between customer service first connected to marketing and then sales engagement with building synchronous energy and focus on the customer from a 360 degree view.


Inbound 2018-2
Inbound 2018 – Key Topics of Focus

Content Marketing – why this is a key to effective customer engagement:
When I look at investment in digital marketing, more emphasis needs to be made for quality and relevant content that is going to engage the prospective buyer. 

The use of video content and investment in analytics is even becoming more important for effective prospect engagement.

Without personalised and relevant content, other secondary digital marketing spent isn’t effective to deliver a tangible ROI.

Account Based Marketing (ABM) for small and larger B2B business now applies:
Account Based Marketing and Personalisation is even more important as part of any inbound or outreach approach for B2B clients.  It’s not just limited to Enterprise clients but a “lighter” implementation of the ABM process can be used.

Sales Enablement and development to drive more sales qualified leads:
If you don’t have a content plan or asset list of where all your content is to make available to your sales teams, then you aren’t able to engage effectively.

Having real time response with the right information to send is vital to connect these days. A generic email follow up isn’t good enough. However using a level of sales automation and process can greatly increase the effectiveness and productivity of sales reps.

The increasing challenge of sales is getting customers still getting new contacts to connect and understanding where they are at in the buying journey or cycle.

ROI in 2012 isn’t the same ROI in 2018 as Account Based Revenue is required to deepen the success of Sales Development team

Some useful tips provided about managing sales enablement with teams…

  • Start small – Elevate the outreach and deepen the call to action
  • Balance your financial measures and leadership levers.
  • Know the difference between an Account Centric and Account Based approach
  • To traditional career path of a Sales Development Rep is no to just move them into an Account Executive field sales role as the failure rate is high as many as 1 in 3 should the right nurturing and mentoring not be provided from sales leaders.

The role of the CMO: Insights from Forrester Research CMO
In hearing the CMO at Forrester Research present he raised some important points from a business perspective to consider.

As organisations as under more pressure and budget to deliver projects like digital transformation, the way return on investment is measured or needs to be justified now is more required than before.  Generally a marketing budget of 10% of revenue isn’t sufficient to drive the results expected in the business.

Customer Experience and Success – why it’s more important than ever before:
Some CMO strategy areas to consider to address:

  • Digital Outsourcing – turning technology debt to technology leverage, RPA (Robotic Process Automation) is the current mode and can help digital transformation. 
  • Digital Vanilla – Nearly every company will pursue digital transformation but it’s about where the core is at. How can organisations differentiate through digital and marketing?
  • Crisis of customer loyalty – What is a rational expectation?
    The expectations and evidence varies vastly with Gen X, Y and Z behaviours and mindset for loyalty particularly with the choice of Digital Service Providers as well as new constant offerings always being introduced to the market.

Other Alchemise Consulting News

3D people competing in a race with arrows - isolated over a white background

We have just kicked off a strategic campaign with an account based demand generation campaign for a global data centre provider within the APAC region.


A leading Australian logistics company has benefited from the value of our Digital Readiness Assessment and why a strategic view is so important to consider first with your web and digital strategy:

Great questions, really made me think about what we have existing and what we should, but don’t. Biggest conclusion I got from the whole exercise is to prepare a proper business proposal to the Directors about online and website strategy across the global business rather than an ad hoc approach.”


 Our recent blogs… 

Throughout the quarter we took an in depth look at Sales Enablement and Inside Sales, as well as two different user experience perspectives of marketing automation: 

We also published a blog on exit strategies and wealth protection – How do you ensure your exit strategy from your business partnership has your personal finances protected?

Philip Karlsson, our Alchemise Consulting intern from earlier in the year has also shared a white paper reflecting on global business inspired by his experiences:


3D guy leaning on a calendar - isolated over a white background-1
As we approach the end of 2018, now is a great time to set aside some planning time to strategise and assess your pipeline and situation for this next quarter and looking ahead to 2019. For a complimentary, holistic Business Growth Assessment to independently review your business, sales and marketing performance and operations, please register below.

We’ll assess where your business is at, by collecting meaningful and relevant data and reviewing your goals and strategies.


Inside sales teams and the importance of sales enablement

This article has been written to open up some strategic thinking and discussion for business owners, as well as sales and marketing managers in SMEs or corporate businesses, on different ways to increase lead generation success with inside sales.

At an event we were a part of last year, it was great to hear that a prominent marketing agency acknowledged that marketing supports sales, and that successful lead generation cannot be achieved with just marketing automation and digital content alone.

The challenge in lead generation and conversion efforts between marketing and sales departments are still causing inconsistent measurement of ROI and success.

It’s becoming even more important with the need for both sales and marketing functions to complement, align and integrate with each other and adopting a “full funnel” top-down view. So how can you start that process and get a business to commit to a shift in mindset?

inside-sales

Sales Enablement

The term sales enablement comes to mind and applying the real meaning of this requires the focus of the inside sales role and joint ownership between marketing and sales – agreed upfront as a common shared goal.

What is sales enablement?
Sales enablement is the process of providing the sales organisation with the information, content, and tools that help sales people sell more effectively.

Common lead generation scenario
One example and context was from a marketing agency feedback in running an ICT campaign for a successful Microsoft partner. The client challenge was to generate 2500 marketing leads for a sales target of $10M (4 sales representatives) through content driven marketing automation. That would mean over 200 leads per monthjust from organic digital content and use of marketing automation – a huge task to guarantee a cost per lead model that doesn’t quantify sales opportunity progress or success.

These metrics and expectations just didn’t add up realistically given the variables; length of follow up from sales, quality of leads, and length of the sales cycle. It seemed like the ROI and appropriate KPI would have been unrealistic to achieve in 12 months. These lead metrics are only part of the picture and can’t be relied on to generate consistent leads without first examining the sales targets. If you can reverse engineer the sales target setting process with the required amount of marketing activity and leads required, this usually highlights either a gap in sales target expectations or marketing budget allocation to support this. In an ideal situation the sales manager and marketing manager should agree on the common metrics and KPIs.

In the previous campaign run by the agency mentioned, the MQLs manifesting from the marketing automation platform were largely impressions, web visits, contacts, downloads and enquiries. This is purely a top of funnel focus.

However typical frustrations arose in lead follow-through between MQL and SQL when the sales team didn’t follow up the leads or several leads slip through the cracks.

It was refreshing to hear the marketing agency involved in this campaign quote that the missing link is (needing) “still a human to be involved”.

The other negative impact of relying on inbound automation alone as the primary channel for lead generation was that the sales representatives can became less motivated to generate their own leads as BDMs or Account Managers.

From my sales experience, the biggest challenge still lies in bridging the gap between MQLs and SQLs with a higher degree of skill over simply appointment setting to meet the metric. I believe that one of the keys to successful lead generation is for businesses to invest more in inside sales functions and achieving higher quality results.


What is Inside Sales, and how is it different? 

Definition of Inside Sales, Sales Development or Sales Acceleration Lead

inside-sales

What is ‘Inside Sales‘?
Inside sales is the sale of products or services by sales personnel who reach customers by phone or online methods, rather than travelling to meet them face-to-face. Inside sales relies on the phone, emails and the internet to reach customers and is common in the retail industry.

How is inside sales different to outside sales?
Unlike outside sales personnel, insides salespeople do not travel. Despite this, they are still proactive about contacting potential customers and may make cold contacts. A company may also designate incoming calls from prospective customers as inside sales. In addition, a company may outsource their inside sales duties to a third party instead of conducting sales in-house to increase their speed to market. In a highly competitive, quarter-by-quarter sales environment, the time taken to engage can mean a lost sales opportunity.

This Inside Sales function is commonly known in the ICT or telecoms world as an Inside Sales Role (ISR) or Sales Acceleration Lead or Sales Development Representative.

The typical capability and profile is someone with 2 to 3 years of sales experience or telephone based sales who appreciates the technical/conceptual aspect of the product or service that is being offered. At market rates in Australia they are paid between $50K to $70K base salary plus commission of up to $100K OTE in an ICT role.

If you can successful build a team of ISRs who have senior industry expertise, the right sales aptitude and attitude, with attention to detail and appropriate training, this is a great foundation. The team can then enhance sales enablement process and help bridge the gap between sales and marketing. This investment may generate a higher ROI than employing just a field sales team and, in some cases, represent better value.

The key to successful full funnel conversion from any marketing lead generation is to execute a marketing campaign with Inside Sales Representatives. Many marketing agencies spend a lot of time developing a top of funnel focus, driving online automation campaigns and leads from multiple channels and tactics. This may be moderately successful however the role and responsibility is handed back across to the client for the middle and bottom of the funnel engagement focussed on sales conversion.



Stopping the “Leaky Funnel” effect

In my opinion, this is where the true ROI of a retainer is unlocked for sales effectiveness and still requires a level of knowledge and “human” interaction to bridge this MQL to SQL gap and “leaky funnel” syndrome – which is still being experienced as a common cause of disconnection between marketing agencies and sales teams.

marketing-sales-funnelSource: Hubspot

A good inside salesperson should have the ability to grasp more complex concepts and think about a more meaningful business discussion on a follow up call to increase the quality of marketing qualified leads.

The benefit of inside sales is that star performers can be identified and nurtured towards a field sales progress path which provides sales engagement continuity to the business or a transition plan for staff retention.

The human skills factor can’t be replaced by digital automation
The human factor in consideration of the specific knowledge of the company’s products, services or solutions can provide a far more contextually-relevant delivery compared to a telemarketing representative following a script. Commonly the lack of depth of understanding isn’t appropriate to the conversation with the target stakeholder and decision maker on the prospect side and can lead to lost opportunities.

The buyer’s journey today means that more customers and prospects are well informed via multiple channels through their own research before being accessible and ready in their timeframe to actively make a purchasing decision and engage their supplier of choice.

Traditional telemarketing conversion rates are still poor and the ROI is negligible without the due care of impact on sales revenue and profits. Would you rather have 10 highly qualified leads a month with a 50% ratio to convert with some strategic awareness or 20 average leads of inconsistent quality just because it was an agreed cost per lead engagement per month that was committed to deliver regardless of the chance of conversion?

Customised lead generation is highly recommended rather than a ‘one size fits all’ approach to have a better chance of success. Inside sales is increasingly becoming the avenue to help achieve this.


Look out for Part 2 of this series, Why to use inside sales for lead generation: Sales strategy and ROI, where we will talk about the value of Inside Sales versus Business Development, the importance of strategy, and also the use of marketing automation to increase qualified leads and overall ROI.


If any of the challenges mentioned above resonate for you, register for an independent Business Growth Assessment to find out how and where we can help you resolve some of your concerns across your marketing and sales strategy. 

inside-sales 
Alchemise Consulting – Inside Sales as a Service Overview

Sales and marketing strategy: Case study – Australian HR advisory firm

HR Client Overview

A leading Melbourne based boutique HR advisory firm has a small team of six staff and growing with offering HR assessment and full range of HR advisory and resourcing services to corporate and SME businesses. They pride themselves on personalised service and long term retained clients. They have growth aspirations and also much of their business was from referrals with a very high conversion rate as well as forming alliance partners in their business network.


Vision & Goals

Here were our HR client initial vision and goals for the next 12 months.

  • To explore an effective marketing communications and sales pathway for business growth;
  • To uncovers insights for the value proposition, audience personas and competitive landscape;
  • To identify internal alignment opportunities to strategically position the HR Advisory for success;
  • Recommends an actionable 12 month plan to reach desired 25% growth projections;
  • Identify key sales processes and budget requirements; and
  • Position the HR Advisory with the capacity to grow with velocity and plan for succession.


    Client Needs

To date a conversion rate of 82% from a complimentary HR Health Check has been good and effective however more inbound leads were needed. 

The HR advisory wanted to develop core business service sales around selected retainer services and to explore growth of recruitment services and retainer based business which can scale and provide steady cash-flow from both existing clients and new business.

  • Current resourcing has about 10% capacity to grow in workload.
  • An additional priority to review sales and marketing process and systems (CRM and marketing automation tools) and consideration for investment to support clients, operational processes and internal requirements for future scalability and growth.

In forward planning for the financial year 17/18 they needed some sales and marketing strategy assistance to help with business growth.

They recognized the current depth of their sales and marketing strategy plans weren’t sufficient to help them scale and reach their financial year growth targets.

They wanted a combined integrated approach to address and plan out their alignment of sales and marketing in order to scale.

From there they needed some coaching and guidance on how to best invest a limited budget to take their business forward whilst hiring a new HR consultant and evolving their brand marketing.

A strategy of new leads from their HR Growth Assessment was their main form of new leads, followed by referrals with a high close rate.

The logos and colours used on throughout their digital online presence appeared dated.

After combining the sales and marketing strategy as an integrated approach, the deliverables were a comprehensive plan and roadmap with staged investment estimates to budget for.

How we were engaged

Business Growth Assessment

The HR Advisory found us using an inbound marketing approach and registered opportunity for downloading and completing a Business Growth Assessment as well as downloading our 7 Profit Multipliers E-book resource.

The initial engagement followed an inbound process.

Strategy Planning Workshop
Following this we engaged in partnership with our marketing strategist for a 2 hour paid workshop for an integrated sales and marketing strategy engagement using our proven methodology. 

The client came well prepared with their data and financials as well as marketing materials to help strategise and develop recommendations.

Outcomes and value achieved
A detailed business growth assessment overview to independently help set the direction and achieve their goals. This assessment also included a digital website customer experience review for online engagement which improves lead generation projects. A blend of creative marketing design and commercial sales consideration elements were provided in formal feedback and recommendations of next steps and also an appropriate budget to consider a staged approach.

After the workshop and a series of consultations, we formulated the integrated sales and marketing strategy plan to help provide a roadmap for their objectives using a strategy, people, process and systems approach broken down into stages.

Given it was a small business, budget was a challenge in hiring a resource first, servicing their current client base and then a focus on system tools.

Key Recommendations 

Our staged recommendations and roadmap of an integrated sales and marketing strategy given the short term budget constraint and plan to hire a senior consultant were:

Stage 1– Strategy Plan and Roadmap/Recommendations with Marketing Benchmark.

Stage 2– Implementing HubSpot to replace Salesforce and a transition plan based on ease of use and requirements from the design and CRM marketing data capture process.

Stage 3 – Enhancing marketing strategy to deliver a website and social media plan for CTA with their HR assessment offer and capture more customer and prospect data for FY17/18.

Stage 4 – Generate more leads and shift from a product focus to a higher margin and upsell/cross sell offering to help the account management process.

With some assistance and consideration, the HR advisory have now updated their website and digital presence with more HR assessment offers, social media engagement and customer centric content.

They have also implemented a basic HubSpot Marketing Hub and Sales Hub platform to track and collect digital and social engagement analytics with reporting for better visibility.

Moving forward they now have a defined strategic plan to implement the roadmap, as budget allows, in a practical and controlled way which allows them to be innovative and provide growth using a strategic people, process and systems approach.

Strategy Development Outcomes

As a result of our integrated sales and marketing strategy consulting assistance, the HR advisory gained better clarity and a plan of action across people, process and systems with:

  • Help in defining business goals, objectives and marketing benchmarking measures.
  • Aligned Sales and Marketing strategy plan and processes from the workshop.
  • A plan to provide growth capacity and tools foundation for a 5 year growth plan.
  • Providing an informed sales management and commercial decision making process with a detailed implementation planning and investment budget needed for the next stages of the project over the next 12 months.

For further information around our strategy services or how we helped this HR advisory client, feel free to contact us on info@alchemiseconsulting.com or call +61 3 9225 5022.