The client had an extensive UK sales operation with well over 100 branches nationally. These branches ranged in size from two-person operations in smaller towns to 100 plus people employed in large, main branches. The abilities of branches to deliver the services customers expected and to sell effectively varied considerably. The recently appointed Marketing and Sales Director was concerned about the effectiveness of his sales operation and whether it was prepared for future changes.
Our review of the sales function included getting the views of all relevant internal and external personnel and covered all aspects of the organisation structure and performance. We also carried out an extensive review of competitor sales operations. Regular contact was maintained throughout the review. The review enabled us to create a comprehensive information base. This was distributed to the senior team three weeks before a week-long workshop designed to identify and consider the key strategic issues.
The review clearly showed considerable variation in branch effectiveness: a number of smaller branches were unable to carry out many of the allocated tasks and a few did virtually no selling, being swamped by the admin tasks required. The workshop debated and agreed upon a set of principles for a viable branch and on the design and structure of the new sales operation. This new structure and its underpinning rationale was explained in a series of roadshow events and the new sales operation came into effect within a six month period.
What we learned
That faced with a changing environment and significant competition, a substantial base of evidence is required to shift people’s views and stimulate recognition that change is required. Opinions are not good substitutes for facts.