14Jul2017

Poor sales = poor back office support: True or False?

Growth, sales and revenue are a common unsurmountable challenge for most of the companies I interact with. When I first visited one of my clients in 2013 and got everyone to speak during the kick off meeting, the sales team was very insecure with their delivery team keeping up to the delivery commitments and conversely the delivery team was very much convinced that they weren’t able to deliver on time, since the sales team could provide accurate forecasts for timely ordering of correct materials. This may be the perception of your key players in your company too – worth checking!

The first thing we did was to check the theoretical lead time of the products, which surprisingly was just a small fraction of the actual lead time. Of course, there were many explanations for this huge difference. As we dig through, the first potential unearthed was lack of timely communication – hardly to do with good forecasts. So, within the first few days we introduced a visualization of the order status combined with an escalation system to the heads of sales and ops heads.

To my surprise, it was extremely difficult to get the sales and the ops and engg heads to meet daily and sort out the basics. This is no rocket science, but is unfortunately a very difficult nut to crack. The issue would be unclear specs from the sales team or missed commitments from the ops team. Surely you think that these are day to day mundane issues and why is a coach needed for this. Well, you are absolutely right. All this gets done naturally when structured regular reviews are in place!

Going ahead with these basics sorted out, there was an increase in confidence with the sales team which is when we started coaching the sales team to acquire orders by systematically tracking the funnel – leads, potentials, offers and orders received. The sales guys were great and were performing poorly due to inconsistent and unreliable support from the back office – all those functions in a company that support sales to get the orders and collect receivables!

Oh receivables! Such a headache for the sales guys. Why? In almost all the cases, the payments are delayed either due to documentation issues or due to quality issues – both influenced by the ops team! The driver for ensuring collections was to work on the mindset of the ops guys when it comes to proper documentation, quality and response to customer complaints using our doHow™ methodology for introspective learning the Socratic way.

This company continues to grow better than earlier, however still with further improvement potential in the ops. I can say that now they have good sales with better back office support with the same people and are on the way to achieving great sales with great back office support.

I conclude that poor sales = poor back office support is indeed true and an experienced doHow™ coach can, thus create amazing outcomes with the existing people.

Happy reading!