CBI Real World Sales Review

We have just finished the first stage of a very interesting project with the CBI.

Everything has gone well and the CBI are pleased with the results.

Here's what happened.

The short version...

Peter, Matthew and Stephen from Real World Strategy led a Real Word Sales Review with the CBI.

The CBI liked what we did.

Cedric Kennedy, the CBI's Director of Resources said:

"The CBI asked Real World Strategy to review the way in which membership is sold and retained.  We were impressed with their quick grasp of the business and their ability to speak in ‘our language’ – even to the extent that we did not request any alterations between their first draft and final reports."
"They were able in a short period to confirm that our approach to ‘sales’ was on the right track but also provided a number of sensible and practical ideas for improving it.  This has helped give us the confidence to develop our approach and we expect their ideas to help us with short and long term improvement."

The longer version...

First things first - who are the CBI?

Quoting directly from their website:

"The CBI is the UK's premier business lobbying organisation, providing a voice for employers at a national and international level."
"We speak for more than 240,000 companies of every size, including many in the FTSE 100 and FTSE 350, mid-caps, SMEs, micro businesses, private and family owned businesses, start ups, and trade associations...
…and in every sector, including agriculture, automotive, aerospace and defence, construction, creative and communications, financial services, IT and e-business, management consultancy, manufacturing, professional services, retail, transport, tourism and utilities."
"Our mission is to promote the conditions in which businesses of all sizes and sectors in the UK can compete and prosper for the benefit of all. To achieve this, we campaign in the UK, the EU and internationally for a competitive policy landscape."
John Cridland, the CBI's Director General summarises: 'We listen, we lobby, we get results'.

Real World Strategy and the CBI

Real World Strategy has been a member of the CBI for some years. We get to the CBI conference every Autumn, we go to regional meetings where we meet a wide range of senior business leaders and we receive a lot of policy briefing material.

As a result of our membership of the CBI we have a better perspective on the economy when we are working with our clients and when we are reviewing our own plans.

Membership is highly recommended, even for the smallest companies!

"What can the CBI learn from the world of B2B selling?"

At a regional CBI meeting last Autumn, we were asked if Real World Strategy might like to be involved in a discussion about what the CBI could learn from the world of B2B selling.

We were told about some recent changes within the CBI. There had been some restructuring and a decision to migrate to a brand new CRM system with a range of related initiatives. This sounded just like many of the B2B sales situations that we have worked with over the years.

CBI Real World Sales Review

The conclusion of these discussions was to proceed with a CBI Real World Sales Review. This is the methodology that we have developed to look at everything that has an impact on sales results.

Over the coming weeks we worked through the stages of the review process. We met and worked with some really good people from all areas of the CBI.

Overall, we were really impressed with the CBI's genuine engagement with us and an evident preparedness to look at anything that might improve their ability to recruit and retain members.

We delivered what we thought was the first draft of our report, and as Cedric commented above, the CBI told us that we had met their needs at the first go. As you might imagine, their reaction was very encouraging!

Pleased with outcomes

We're very pleased that the Real World Sales Review process has worked so effectively for the CBI. As always, we have learned a lot from the exercise.

It's been a really interesting project, and it has been good to have the opportunity to play a small part in helping this unique organisation.

Senior finance director crosses to the dark side

Matthew Turnock

We are delighted that Matthew Turnock has joined the team at Real World Strategy.

Matthew will bring his great experience as a senior finance director to the businesses and sales teams with whom we work.

An experienced FD getting involved in programmes that improve sales team results, I hear you ask?

"I've spent my whole career so far arguing violently with sales directors, and now I find myself joining them!"

Dyed in the wool cynic

Of course, Matthew has considerable experience of challenging, reviewing, testing and evidencing all aspects of business performance.  As a dyed in the wool cynic, Matthew abhors the sometimes unfounded optimism that can so often find its way into sales campaign reporting!

At Real World Strategy, we have realised that "jam tomorrow" is one of Matthew's favourite phrases. With this approach as a balance to the enthusiasm and encouragement that has been a hallmark of our business for over 25 years, Matthew significantly strengthens the Real World Strategy Team.

Experienced Finance Director

Matthew has been Finance Director of both listed and privately owned companies, most recently with Fountains Group, which was successfully sold to OCS in January 2012.

Matthew is now involved with 23Violins, a start up venture in the music sector, undertakes business coaching and mentoring roles, and has agreed to take an executive role with Real World Strategy as part of his portfolio.

What will Matthew do with clients and their B2B sales teams?

The key areas of Matthew's involvement will be:

  • Improving the connections between business plans and sales results
  • Reviewing the effectiveness of sales and sales management KPIs and performance management processes
  • Equipping and inspiring B2B sales people to have better financial awareness
  • Helping clients to create effective ROI (Return on Investment) business cases as part of their sales proposals
  • Checking all aspects of the sales numbers to see what the evidence says!

Can You Help?

Because Matthew is now part of the team, Real World Strategy have made some significant changes to their Real World Sales Review process. It's where we look at everything that has an impact on sales results.

We are looking for opportunities to run three pilot reviews in the new format, in a range of business and markets. Matthew will play an active role in these pilot reviews.

The amount of time that Real World Strategy will invest in these pilot programmes will be greater than normal as we refine our approach to incorporate Matthew's experience and ability. This will deliver excellent value to the clients who benefit from these pilot programmes.

If you know a business that needs to improve sales results, this is a great opportunity. It will be good to hear from you on +44 1295 722 870 or contact us on Twitter.

We Transform Sales Team Roles

Sales Team Jigsaw.jpg

The internet has changed the way that people and organisations buy. Buyers no longer need to see salespeople. But companies still have tough sales targets. We transform the role of sales team to take account of this new real world.

Buyers can access supplier web sites, read reviews and support forums and contact customers directly through their social networks. Buyers can quickly develop their knowledge of what they are seeking to buy.

Buyers like this have little time for conventional sales reps.

We equip and inspire business development teams to become skilled business development coaches. In this new role, business development coaches enable customers to identify their needs more accurately and to buy more effectively.

Business development coaches add more value, earn greater respect and establish the credibility needed to shape buying strategy and decisions.

Roles, Processes, Knowledge & Skills

We review and improve:

  • business development roles and processes
  • what knowledge is required and how this knowledge is used
  • what skills are needed to be effective.

Redefining Roles

Our starting point is to redefine the role of the business development team. It is vitally important that they understand the significance of the role change from being "sales people" to being "business development coaches".

This role change leads to fundamentally different conversations with potential buyers. Previously, both buyer and seller would expect that buyers asked the questions and sellers provided answers. By contrast, the principal development process used by coaches is to ask questions.

This role reversal might initially lead to buyers becoming frustrated if they perceive that "this rep is being evasive". However, when the "business development coach" asks really good questions that add evident value, the buyer will quickly understand the benefits of this way of working. It might even prove valuable to explain the new role in order to manage the buyer's expectations of how the conversation will be developed.

New Processes - Proposals & CRM

Business development and performance management processes are reviewed and improved.

The principal new process is likely to be the means by which a commercial proposition or proposal is researched, written and co-developed with the buyer.

Many conventional sales people are insufficiently financially and commercially experienced to identify the ROI justifications that underpin all investment decisions.

The pivotal part that CRM systems play in global business development best practise will continue. The role of business development coach remains completely consistent with best practise use of CRM tools.

Knowledge & Skills

Knowledge and skills are developed to enable business development coaches to develop a more strategic perspective of their role and activity.

How often have we had the experience of a conventional sales rep using their extensive market and product knowledge to talk and talk in the hope that something will stick?

By contrast, business development coaches use their knowledge and skills to ask great questions, enabling buyers to work out for themselves what their needs are and how best they might be met.

Leader's Role in Transforming Roles & Behaviour

The most significant part of the work undertaken by Real World Strategy is the way we equip and inspire business development team leaders to coach and develop their own team members.

This approach results in the emergence of an increasingly sustainable new way of working.

Our remit is typically to:

  1. Inspire and equip business development teams with the vision
  2. Ensure that appropriate business development processes support the new roles
  3. Coach the team leader as they become increasingly effective in leading more effective ways of working
  4. Engineer our exit, having helped to establish learning processes