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08

selling

Dom Moorhouse


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the guide i wish id had to building and selling a professional service business.
I had the privilege of sharing the Moorhouse journey with
Dom, as one of his co-directors, and can relate only too well to
everything he describes so brilliantly. If only wed had a guide
like this to help us on our way! The outcome may not have
been any different, but wed have avoided so many false turns
and blind alleys en route. These guides are essential reading
for anyone setting up in business, particularly in the field of
professional services. I strongly recommend them.
bob hendicott, hendicott partnership ltd

These guides were not around when we embarked on a similar


journey. If only they had been - it would have saved us years in
terms of the journey, 000s in terms of avoiding the common
pitfalls and a head full of grey hair in terms of frustration!
pete austin, director, suiko ltd

Dom has absolutely captured the need to manage the


growth of a business like a project with clear objectives and
deliverables, supported by robust and effective systems. The
sales guide is a must for any professional service firm leader.
paul wilson, managing director, provelio limited

I found the Five-Year Entrepreneur Guides an excellent


summary of the practical solutions required to building a
successful, small-to-medium-sized consulting business. I can
see them becoming a well thumbed text.
tim phillips, global partner, molten and winner of the
london and south east iod director of the year 2012

If running a successful consultancy or small business is


your aspiration then this practical, how to series is highly
recommended. For me, the guides on business planning
and how best to structure your teams and motivate them
were of particular interest. Doms willingness to share his
experience, both good and bad, brought these guides to life
whilst maintaining a pragmatic approach and providing simple
templates and examples.
tanya lightbody, director, ingenuity inspired limited

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about the author
Dom Moorhouse, a former Royal Marines Officer, is the Founder of Moorhouse a
leading management consultancy business. Dom started the company as a singleton
in 2004, grew it to a c. 10m/annum revenue business and sold it to BT in 2008 all
within the five-year target he had set himself. At the point of his departure as MD, the
business was a firmly established presence in the UK professional service sector (and
at the beginnings of an international presence in the US and Far East). The firm, which
continues to thrive, has built a reputation as a trusted partner in the realm of business
transformation and received consistent accolade for supporting such efforts in close
to 50 premier organisations (major government departments/agencies, FTSE/NYSE
100 etc). During his tenure as the MD, Moorhouse won a major national award (MCA,
APM, IBC) every year of its existence in recognition of such work, including multiple
firm of the year plaudits. Dom now enjoys a portfolio career writing and speaking
on the subject of entrepreneurship, mentoring business owners and angel investing in
start-ups. He lives in Bath, England.

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First published in Great Britain in 2012

Published in the United Kingdom by


Always Onwards Ltd, The Business Studio, 128 Bloomfield Roadm, Bath, ba2 2as

www.dommoorhouse.com

Content copyright Dom Moorhouse, 2012


Illustrations copyright Dom Moorhouse, 2012

All rights reserved. This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise,
be lent, hired out or otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is
published. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any
form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise) without the prior
written permission of the publisher.

The right of Dom Moorhouse to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accord-
ance with the Copyrights, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

ISBN 978-1-909310-04-9

A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

Designed and typeset by James Nunn in association with Traffic Digital

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DOM MOORHOUSE

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Guide 08
selling

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THE FIVE-YEAR ENTREPRENEUR

Foreword
This book tells the remarkable story of the founding, growth and ultimate sale
of Moorhouse Consulting, a UK-based professional services firm. That this was
achieved within five years is testament to the vision and drive of the author,
Dom Moorhouse. Zero to 10m in sales and 20m in value in five years is the
stuff of dreams for most entrepreneurs in the professional services world but
in this book you will not only find the blueprint but also the detailed how to
instructions to mimic this success.
My name is Paul Collins and I first met Dom in late 2005, almost two years
into the Moorhouse story. I was presenting a seminar for my firm Equiteq called
Proven Strategies to Build and Sell your Consulting firm. This two-day event
was based on my own personal experiences and the material obviously resonated
with Dom. After the seminar we talked about Doms ambitions to build a 20m
value firm within five years of founding; remember, he was two years in at this
stage. Whilst I could not quote many examples of firms who had achieved such
a feat (it took me 15 years of growth to achieve a sale of my own consulting firm)
Dom was resolute and he impressed me with his infectious drive and ambition.
Within a few months I was signed up as a Non-Executive Director and two
and a half years later, in August 2008 (six months earlier than planned), Dom
realised his dream and sold Moorhouse to BT, a UK Telecoms plc and a client
of Moorhouse at the time.
Moorhouse were the perfect client for Equiteq. They devoured all the advice
we and others had to offer and executed with military precision probably
something to do with Doms first career in the Royal Marines! They seemed to
get everything right and still to this day they are the only client we have worked
with who consistently met their quarterly revenue and profit targets throughout
our partnership. It is not an exaggeration to say they became legendary in our
circles and are still now the most quoted firm on best practice from our client
portfolio. If your desire is to build and sell a professional services firm, or even
to understand how to generate sustainable growth in sales and profits, you could
do no better than to follow the Moorhouse example as described in meticulous
detail in this book.
When I was building my own firm, WCI Group, I yearned for a guide to
help show me the way to rapidly grow profits and value. For the first 10 years we
did what most firms do ... we grew by trial and error ... lots of error! We made
every mistake in the book. In 1995, we tried to get external advice and spent
six months searching for books, mentors and advice from academics, the City
and the business world. Nothing seemed to fit our situation so we created our
own plan based on what we called our Eight Levers of Equity Value. That plan
accelerated our growth by a factor of 15 over the next five years and enabled the


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sale of WCI in 2002. In this book you will read about the Moorhouse Multiple
Enhancement or ME programme which was their version of the same idea.
Every firm needs an ME programme. It works and in this book you will learn
how to create your own.
This book is the guide I wished Id had in the first 10 years of WCI. Every
page would have stopped us from making expensive and time-consuming errors.
It is written at a level of detail and with links to further resources like video clips,
tips and templates to make it an indispensable how to guide to grow your firm.
Whether you are just thinking about going it alone or your current growth has
stalled or you want to know what to do beyond just growing profits in order to
build future equity value, this book has everything you will need to keep you on
the right path to a saleable business.
If I am honest, this is also the book I wish I had written myself and I suppose
there can be no better personal recommendation than that! Dom has written
this book in the same way that he built Moorhouse with meticulous planning,
a talented team of contributors and advisers, disciplined execution to aggressive
timescales and with great humility and leadership style. Characteristics that you
will all need to build your Moorhouse story and probably the reason why my
book started but was never finished!
Enjoy reading it; I wish you good luck with your own entrepreneurial dreams.

Paul Collins, Managing Partner, Equiteq LLP (www.equiteq.com)


August 2012


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THE FIVE-YEAR ENTREPRENEUR

Preface
You have in your hands now, one of the guides from The Five-Year Entrepreneur
series. If you are the owner of a professional services business or are contem-
plating becoming so in the future and you want to maximise the chances of
growing such a business to create personal wealth, then this guide is for you.
The Five-Year Entrepreneur series represents the information I wished Id had
ten years ago when my entrepreneurial ambition first started to stir and the
foundations for my own professional services venture (and personal adventure)
were formed. It is the reference I would have loved to have read and dipped
repeatedly back into during the critical years of building my own companys
value. Finally, it is the pragmatic checklist I sought when I entered the most
foreign, and demanding, of experiences the sale process.
I know all this because I had the most incredible of entrepreneurial journeys
progressing from start-up to a multi-million value realisation moment in
less than five years. As always, such a tale of business success is graced with good
fortune and I certainly had the wind on my back at a couple of critical mo-
ments (you will get to read more on this part of the story as the series unfolds).
More significantly, however, I was fortunate to have a great team around me
colleagues and external advisors to traverse this path with real focus, structure,
research and discipline. It is these gathered insights, experiences, anecdotes and
practical steps that I want to pass on, plus some signage to the inevitable holes
in the ground we occasionally stumbled into.
I recognise fully having been there just quite how time-poor you prob-
ably are. As such, I have broken the series down into individual subject guides,
and each guide is made up of elements that can be digested in part you just
need to pick and choose what works best for you. I know that the technical de-
scription can be a bit dry at times so I have also worked hard to mix this up with
the more human story such that you derive the benefit of knowing how such
aspects actually work (or not) in practice. This specially tailored series organisa-
tion, and formatting, is all described further within this Introduction.
Why read on?
Well, with the approach that this book series details, coupled with some hard
graft (this is not a get rich easy scheme!), you will significantly, and positively,
alter the forward path of your business in terms of its growth rate and inherent
value. This, in turn, will shorten the time it takes to get you to a point when
such value is of real-world, material significance. A point in time when you can
potentially trade such ownership for a life-changing, freedom-bearing financial
reward.
I have designed the structure of this book series to be a useful companion
to you on your journey. At a high level, it follows the phases you will embark


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on understanding (what the journey will entail, where value lies etc), planning,
building (the guts of the series) and selling. Each of the detailed guides will sit
within one of these phases and, whilst there is a logic to consuming the informa-
tion in this order, it is all perfectly accessible to the reader who just wishes to dip
in to gain insight in a specific area only.
This brings me onto the overall design. You may have found this sample on
my website (www.dommoorhouse.com) or an e-book store? If you return to my
website, you will see that you can get access to all the currently published guides
in the series. If your interest takes you further and you seek to derive further
value from this structured learning then please note also that each guide has
been specifically configured to work in reference with a number of supporting
resources (tools, templates, interviews, links, discussion boards etc) organised
on the same subject basis. Details on how to subscribe to these additional assets
are to be found on the website.
Finally, a heartfelt wish; however you seek to digest these guides and wher-
ever you are in the entrepreneurial process good luck. You have my utmost
respect and the world certainly needs more people like you. I just hope that this
book coupled with your spark, vision and industry contributes in a small
way to the decisions you take and the success you deserve.

Dom Moorhouse
Bath, 2012


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THE FIVE-YEAR ENTREPRENEUR

Who is this Book for?


The simple answer is that this book is for you.
You that is, if you are the owner full or part of a professional services
business or aspire to become so. Indeed, this book is for you if you are just keen
to explore the idea of setting up your own such firm.
Before we go much further, some definitions. By owner, I mean a share-
holder in a limited company, or a partner in a limited liability partnership, who
has equity (shares, stock, options) in the business and is, as such, able to direct in-
fluence over it and derive gain from it (dividend share and/or a capital gain from
selling shares). I should also perhaps expand on what I mean by a professional ser-
vice firm as this book is very much focused on the unique characteristics of such
an endeavour. No one definition will suffice here but such firms are primarily
business-to-business and involve the marketing, selling and dispensing of a pro-
fessional service as opposed to, say, the production and retail of material goods.
Capable people, qualified to discharge such services, are clearly central to such a
business and the billing typically but not always involves a function of their
time. The definition is, however, broad and covers a panoply of service types
from business consulting, accounting, law, advertising, web design, architecture,
engineering, recruitment, financial services, marketing, public relations, research
and so on. Generally speaking, if your firm harnesses the talents of skilled, knowl-
edgeable individuals to provide advice and support to other businesses it is to be
included under this broad umbrella and this guidebook is for you.
Your professional service business may be long-established or, indeed, may
not yet even exist. Starting up such an enterprise may just be, at this point, part
of your future dreams and plans. You may well be, at this current moment, lan-
guishing as an employee in a large company wondering if the jam tomorrow
promise is ever going to materialise and looking to take more control over your
career, and future wealth, through such an ambition.
Moreover, The Five-Year Entrepreneur series is really focused on the leaders
who are committed to growing such businesses such that they afford them-
selves the option of potentially realising capital value from it in the future. This
is perhaps the critical raison dtre for this series of guides and, hence, serves as
the key test as to whether it is really worth reading on.
This is an important and not obvious point so lets pause briefly to discuss
it in more detail.
For some business owners, there is no deep desire to grow their firm (in terms
of people employed, revenue, profit etc). For such business leaders, the potential
upside of growth is just not deemed sufficient enough to justify the inevitable
effort and complication involved. They are simply content with where they are
and enjoy the regular income stream their business provides them. That is fine


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WHO IS THIS BOOK FOR?

if they are, indeed, enjoying a regular profitable income (putting aside the obvi-
ous concern that it is, in practice, very difficult to stand still and not actually go
backwards). It is a perfectly acceptable career, or work-life, choice and certainly
I do not seek to be self-righteous about the deliberate alternative. Its just that
this series really talks to those who have, or plan to have, an explicit ambition to
grow their business.
This does not mean, however, that you will only get value from this book
series if you intend to make a cast-iron commitment to, or goal of, the act of
selling your business; although if your plans are explicit and time-bound in this
regard, it is most certainly for you! As a minimum, I just anticipate that you
want to, through a disciplined plan-to-build approach, position strategic op-
tions for such a potential eventuality in the future.
Behind such an intent lies a myriad of personal drivers and goals. This should
include the professional satisfaction and personal growth journey involved in
leading a successful firm. There are few satisfactions greater than knowing that
your entrepreneurism, vision, drive, industry and force-multiplying enthusiasm
is responsible for a small economy on which other livelihoods (and their de-
pendants) prosper also. For certain, such people are needed in abundance to
rescue modern economies from their recent malaise! There will also be a driver,
invariably, for self-determination be that in the form of a greater influence over
your own career path and/or a desire for greater wealth on which such future
flexibility can be based. There is nothing to be ashamed of in such an admis-
sion conversely, candour with yourself and key others is important here. It is
perfectly possible to reconcile such personal ambition with sustainable, ethical
business development and that is the sweet spot on which this set of books is
going to linger.
In summary, this book (as part of the overall The Five-Year Entrepreneur se-
ries) is for anyone who is, or who aims to become, an owner of a professional
services business and has a targeted intent to grow such a business in order to
potentially at least derive a personal wealth-creation point in the future.


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THE FIVE-YEAR ENTREPRENEUR

The Five-Year Entrepreneur Series


The Five-Year Entrepreneur series is organised into four parts and contains 21
guidebooks that cover everything you need to know to create ownership wealth
in a professional service business.
The two guides in Part 1 (Understanding) show you the personal attributes
and commitment you will need for the journey ahead (Guide 01 Personal
Motivation and Circumstance) and the fundamental components of value in a
professional service business such that you can embed this knowledge in every
future, firm-growing decision you make thereafter (Guide 02 The Fundamen-
tal Components of Value).
In Part 2 (Planning), I introduce you to professional service business models
and describe the business planning you need to do at start-up and embed as a
critical, repeating capability thereafter (Guide 03 Business Planning). I also
look at how to optimally organise your business for growth and value (Guide
04 Business Organisation).
Part 3 (Building) is the heart of the series. Here you will find multiple guide-
books that describe at a practical level how to establish and manage all the
components of a well oiled professional service operation.
Finally, in Part 4 (Selling), three guidebooks will cover this pivotal phase on
the wealth creation journey in order that your firm is well presented to the mar-
ket, the optimal deal is achieved for all involved parties and your wealth creation
goals are realised.
The overall series is as follows:

Part 1: Understanding
Guide Personal Motivation and Circumstance
Guide The Fundamental Components of Value

Part 2: Planning
Guide Business Planning
Guide Business Organisation

Part 3: Building

Business Development
Guide Management Information and Decision Making
Guide Service Propositions and Thought Leadership
Guide Marketing
Guide Selling


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WHO IS THIS BOOK FOR?

Knowledge, Culture and Communications


Guide Establishing a High-Performing Team
Guide Knowledge Management and Intellectual Property

People/Talent Management
Guide Talent management Recruitment to Exit
Guide Continuous Professional Development
Guide Building the HR Function
Guide Developing the Leadership Team

Operations
Guide Financial Control
Guide Service Delivery and Quality Management Systems
Guide IM/IS Capability
Guide Estate/Office Management

Part 4: Selling
Guide Preparing for the Firms Sale
Guide The Sale Process
Guide Post Sale and Beyond

Readers Note
The respective guides are being published as they are completed. As such, you
may have your hands on one of the early, foundation books with the remainder
of the series still to be written. Indeed, if this is the case, you can head to the
website (www.dommoorhouse.com) and influence the chronology in which the
remaining guides are produced.


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THE FIVE-YEAR ENTREPRENEUR

Guide Elements
This series is designed for the time-poor. Whilst you will get most from it by
reading cover to cover (and any such investment in time to do so will be well
rewarded), it can also be dipped into as per your business challenge of the mo-
ment. However you approach it, each guide will have a consistent set of infor-
mation blocks to further assist the rushed reader so you should look out for the
icons of each:

Aims:
Objectives you should achieve in reading this guide.

Top Tips:
Simple, practical guidance from the coalface.

Links to Resources/Tools:
References to relevant assets contained on the books website or links to
external resources.

Activity:
Signposts an activity you are recommended to undertake to cement your
knowledge or improve your business. These activities will be collated into the
guide checklist for summary reference.

Checklists:
A simple tick box list for those key things to do now.

Motivation Moment:
Quotes and anecdotes that teach or inspire.

Cautions:
Things to watch out for, traps to avoid.

Case Study Corner:


A relevant aspect of the Moorhouse story to illustrate a point.

As a minimum:
Final section giving you the least you need to know.


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BUILDING
To succeed in sales, simply talk to lots of people every day. And
heres whats exciting there are lots of people!
Jim Rohn

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GUIDE 08

Business Development Selling

AIMS
In this guide, you should aim to:
U Acknowledge how fundamental a selling capability is to your
firms success and, therefore, future value.
U Learn about the common mistakes made when selling
professional services.
U Understand what it takes to build a sustainable sales capability
that isnt reliant on specific individuals.
U Learn about the voice within the starting point of improved
sales habits.
U Consider the relative balancing of effort between hunting and
farming.
U Learn how to build a sales tracking (and pipeline management)
process.
U Leave with a number of top tips as to how best to handle
informal contact, telephone calls and sales meetings with
prospective clients.
U Grasp the fundamentals of account and sector development.
U Understand what it takes to write winning proposals.

The Fundamentals
It is not long in any conversation with a professional service entrepreneur, before
the topic turns to the perennial challenge of selling work. To be successful not
only must you be excellent at what you do (my assumption throughout this se-
ries), you must also be excellent at selling your services. There are so many firms
that tick the first box but are woeful at the second; indeed, they almost have an
attitude that the world should come to them. Unsurprisingly, it rarely does.


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THE FIVE-YEAR ENTREPRENEUR

One level back from this desperate state of affairs, is the firm reliant on one,
or two, gifted individuals to sell the majority of work with no intent to broaden
out the capability more widely. Such businesses very quickly hit their growth
plateau and, regardless, will find it difficult to realise full value in the future
due to the clear dependence on such idiosyncratic contribution.
The next level back from here entering the realm of solvability is an own-
er-manager acutely aware of the need to develop a sales capability (beyond the
mercurial abilities of any rain makers) but with limited experience, or knowl-
edge, as to how best to go about this. This guide is for such a reader.
Indeed, if you have been recommended this series but only have time to read
one guide, I would steer you here. Nurturing a genuine sales capability is so
often the final bastion to be overcome in the challenge of building a business of
value. Crack this and you really are most of the way there.
I seek to make two fundamental points here. The first I hope you have
gleaned already you will only get to a point of significant realisable value in
your business if you traverse the state of affairs from arbitrarily-gifted individu-
als to one of having a firm-wide sales engine. Not only does the first (common
starting) position suppress your companys value, it means that you will be (as-
suming you are one of the sellers) impossible to detach from it.
My second point is that this is an eminently achievable path based on logical
steps. It is far more science than art. I know all this because I traversed such
a journey personally as the MD of Moorhouse. For many years we were a firm
where virtually all the work was sold by me and my deputy, Paul. We went from
this place of (unconscious) individual competence to an acceptance that it was
unsustainable, then conscious-competence and the development of a firm-wide
capability (culture, process, tools etc). It is this journey I want to give you a sense
of, and, head-start on.

CAUTION
In a moment I am going to introduce you to Lars Tewes (MD of SBR
Consulting). Lars was a key external facilitator, and support to me, as
I went about building this sales capability at Moorhouse. From our
earliest encounter, I remember the mistakes he presented as being
commonly made by professional service firms in this area:

Not being advisors to ourselves


Many professional service experts particularly consultants
are very good at appraising capability gaps within their client
organisations and formulating plans to resolve them. Like cobblers
children, however, they are rarely as proficient when it comes to their


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BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT SELLING

own fundamental internal issues.

Fail to understand the numbers game


Of course there is some art to the selling process; after all, it is
fundamentally about human relationships. One of the biggest
mistakes, however, is to fail to see that this is primarily still a numbers
(or ratio) game. The more people you speak to the more you are
likely to develop relationships with the more chance you have of
selling work. And the more practice you get at improving the art.
Its that simple.

Cant convey the idea of what you do in 30 seconds or less


Professional service experts are prone to over-complication. We
revel in the detail and the complexity and cant wait to take others
down to this level of esoteric dialogue. A confused buyer, however,
never buys. The selling challenge is in making the complex simple.
When someone asks What do you do?, you need to be able to say
Quite simply, we and be able to complete the sentence in less
than 20 words.

Talk more than listen


Another cardinal error; especially so in the important first sales
meeting. Busting to communicate how great a firm you are, how
expert in your field, how many great case studies completed,
you arrive at the prospects office with the shiniest of PowerPoint
presentations ready to talk at them all meeting. Stop. You are about
to learn that this is the worst of approaches.

Dont act on what you have learnt


Almost as bad are those dialogues where you simulate listening but
then fail to adapt any part of your sales approach to the information
received. You just drop back into a default script or service offering.
Selling professional services is fundamentally about a conversation
and the mutual development of a unique solution so beware of
this false alley also.

Fail to learn from your successes


Clive Woodward made the point in his book Winning! (2005, Hodder
Paperbacks) that professional teams (business, sporting, military etc)
too often get completely absorbed in debriefing on failure on what
went wrong; how we can avoid this happening again etc. Conversely,
he argues, success comes from seeking to understand success. So,


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THE FIVE-YEAR ENTREPRENEUR

dont get too caught up in micro-analysing why that recent pitch


didnt hit the mark but, instead, pore over that last new client you
won how can you replicate and build on this?

ACTIVITY
Before you go any further in this guide, take a moment now to
make an honest appraisal of how you match up against these
common mistakes. Conversely, as per my last point, write down
what is working for you already (but perhaps needs to be better
communicated, and trained, across your firm?).

Building a High-performing Sales Capability


So, you accept that this is fundamental to your future firm valuation; lets turn
now to what it takes to build a high-performing sales capability within a pro-
fessional service business. Firstly, lets be clear what we mean by capability in
this context. What I am aiming you towards the nirvana end-state is a place
where you have a set of individuals with excellent sales habits and, further, the
multiplier effect of all these individuals working to a consistent, firm-wide
method and tool-set. The following figure captures this:

Figure 8.1:A high-performing sales capability


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BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT SELLING

If you are reading this as the singleton owner-manager (or your firm is still very
small) then you have a huge advantage. It is far easier to build these habits and
processes (and embed these tools) in a small team; thereafter, new joiners to your
business can be easily inducted into the way we do things around here. As such,
I strongly commend anyone in this early-stage maturity to tackle this challenge
immediately. Conversely, the longer you leave it and the larger the firm the
tougher a climb it becomes.
Regardless, as this is such a critical endeavour, I also strongly commend you
to run this as a specific project with fulsome investment from the firms leader-
ship. This, in full acknowledgement of the time, effort, cost and continual lead-
ership-presence required to be successful. None of what I am about to tell you is
particularly complicated; it does, however, require a lot of hard miles to be trod.
If it were easy, every firm would have a great sales engine and be growing like
topsy. It is not easy. The key point I am making here concerns the appropriate
prioritisation and scoping of this exercise. You do not solve the issue by commis-
sioning one-or-two sales training days assuming all will come good from there.
It takes real leadership commitment, a focused, unrelenting approach and many,
many months before you affect any enduring change in this area.
For an up-and-running firm, the stages in this capability journey may look
as follows:

Figure 8.2: Indicative stages of a sales capability development project


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So, you see this is a multi-dimensional pursuit. At its foundation, individual


members of your firm need to develop the self-confidence and motivations re-
quired to be successful. This has to start with you as their leader. There are a
million-and-one (false) rationalisations invoked as to why now is not the right
time to get involved in selling. To a degree, it is the natural starting mindset.
Most people, after all, enter the entrepreneurship arena as technical experts in
their field and have little, or no, sales experience. This attitudinal point has to
be overcome first.
But, even well-motivated staff are not effective until they also have the req-
uisite skills (as visibly demonstrated by their firms leaders) and a structured
process to follow. So, building this capability involves designing, embedding
and continuously refining these core methods. Before we get into this, let me
describe the key elements of this method in overview as per the figure below.

Figure 8.3: An overview of the key elements of selling

Firstly, selling is very distinct from the activity of marketing (as covered in Guide
). If marketing is about brand development and lead generation, selling is
about the conversion of leads-to-contacts-to-clients (and maintaining excellent
relationships thereafter). The two aspects clearly work hand in glove but to
merge them together (as many do) is to miss the very unique challenges of each
and, therefore, to court failure.


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Selling can be broken down into two key sub-areas the acquisition of new
clients and the management of existing clients towards further work. The col-
loquial terms hunting and farming are often used to capture these activities
respectively. I will talk about techniques for both and the relative effort weight-
ing that should be applied to each.
At the heart of a disciplined sales method lies a pipeline-based forecasting
and management process. At the wide, open end of this funnel you will have
all the many leads that are being generated by your marketing activity and your
own individual research. At the other, far narrower end, you will have clients
putting fresh signature to the latest contract. Pipeline management is about
progressing this conversion with maximum efficiency (moving towards optimal
conversion ratios and a shorter lead-to-contract time lag).
Specifically, I am going to introduce the concept of managing two separate,
but closely related, pipelines. One will track your relationships with prospective
clients in recognition that selling, fundamentally, is a human process involving
the search for, and dialogue-build with, the ultimate client decision maker. This
pipeline is calibrated by time-to-contract; that is your estimate as to how long it
is going to take to get to the sold work point. Key techniques within this journey
include how best to handle an initial introductory chat (say, at a conference or
in the proverbial lift conversation), how best to handle an initial telephone call
and how to maximise success from a sales meeting.
The second pipeline is that of specific opportunities that arise from your rela-
tionships with prospective clients (in the people pipeline) or as a result of unsolicit-
ed invitations to tender (ITT). This pipeline is calibrated by your estimate of likely
probability of winning the work, which, along with a size of contract estimate, is
the core input into your forward revenue pipeline view we covered in Guide .
Key techniques involved here are the qualification process (is it worth your time/
effort to pitch for the work?) and, of course, advice on writing winning proposals.
The more significant the opportunity, the more time you need to spend in
analysing the prospective clients requirements, the competition and your dif-
ferentiation in order to craft the optimal set of selling activities. All of this ac-
count planning will be touched on as it pertains to gaining new clients and,
importantly, the ongoing development of existing relationships and business.
So, with plenty to cover, lets start to get into the detail.

CAUTION
I should say, up front, that there is no shortage of advice in this area.
Indeed, when we put our collective heads together at Moorhouse to
design our own methodology, we each pulled out reams of material
we had collected from our previous careers at Big professional


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service firms. Be it Spin Selling, Miller Heimans coloured sheets or


a large firms tailored process, we drowned in the stuff. Of course,
there was plenty of sound advice in amongst all this but we all
shared a sense of previously working into sales regimes that were
over-engineered, burdensome and where you just could not see the
wood for the trees.
My caution then is to make any such sales method (including the
one I am about to outline) your own by selective pruning and design.
Keep it as simple as possible to be useful but not stifling. As I have
said before, what is simple is understood and what is understood
has a fighting chance of being followed.
The real unrelenting focus should be on improving your
colleagues attitude and self-motivation towards selling (the core
issue), not on the production of a huge sales process manual.

CASE STUDY CORNER


The Sales Capability Project

I started to look really seriously at how we could make fundamental improve-


ment to our selling capability at about the half-way point of my five-year journey.
Whilst we had been incredibly successful selling up to this point, we fully recog-
nised such success was wholly attributable to only a few individuals. I was one of
these and, like the others, could not really describe what I was doing well. I had
never personally traversed a conscious-competent stage and, as such, could not re-
ally coach others in what to do. We all recognised bolstered by the Boards chal-
lenge that the next, logical step in the build of the firm was this systemisation
of the sales capability. By now, our marketing function was well established so we
had to capitalise on the new leads that were starting to flow from this. At the very
least, we recognised that growth would soon plateau if we didnt take proactive
steps to maximise the whole firms potential talents in this area.
Our first step was to run, under a nominated director lead, a competitive ex-
ercise searching for an expert partner facilitator of the capability-build project
we knew we needed to invest in. In early , we brought four such expert firms
to our London office to make their pitch. One stood out by a country-mile. He
made the overall selection/buying process effortless indeed, enjoyable. We felt
he had an excellent cultural fit with Moorhouse, which was critical in so much
as we didnt want someone to impose a method upon us, rather to guide the de-
velopment of our own bespoke approach. In short, and with the recognition of
hindsight, I had been sold to by an expert in professional selling. His name was
Lars Tewes from SBR Consulting recognised leaders in building sales capability
(www.sbrconsulting.com).


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Over the following years, he worked closely with Moorhouse as we designed,


tested and embedded our new approach and toolset. Initially, Lars facilitated the
Leadership Team in the development of our method and in an exploration of
our motivations. Thereafter, we took this out to the wider firm through a pro-
gramme of two-day training sessions. The effort, however, can never stop. Even
to this day, as I write, Lars is a regular visitor to the firm coaching the senior
team, observing key elements of the sales process, running repeat training (for
new joiners) and acting, generally, as that invaluable critical friend that an MD
needs in this core area.
So invaluable was his role in this topic area, I will share many ideas that origi-
nate with Lars/SBR and you will hear his voice popping up throughout this guide.

Stages of Awareness
At a generic level, the journey you are seeking to navigate here (individually and
collectively) is one that steps through the classic four stages of competence:

Figure 8.4: The four stages of competence1

Perhaps most important in all of this is knowing, and accepting, you are at stage
one. To support you here, I will reiterate the well-worn platitude of If you al-
ways think what you ve always thought, then youll always do as youve always
done and youll always get what youve always got. This is also referred to as the
definition of insanity; that is to do the same thing and expect different results.
If you are reading this accepting that you need to change or improve your
sales results and current attitudes/methods/habits are insufficient then the
journey has begun. You know you have to do something different.

LINKS TO RESOURCES/TOOLS
In conjunction with this guide, and the key topics it explores, I have
recorded a set of short interviews with Lars that can be found in the
Guide 08 resource folder at www.dommoorhouse.com


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Sales Attitude The Voice Within


It all starts here.
The most considered process in the world will not make up for this truth.
Indeed, the most complex sales methods are often authored by people seeking to
erect a smoke screen to it. First and foremost, building a sales capability lives or
dies on whether you can change peoples attitude and motivation when it comes
to selling. As a leader of the business, this in turn rests on the example you set.
Let me start with a question. In relation to the self-confidence cycle (see
figure below), where would you place the normal starting-point?

Figure 8.5: The self-confidence cycle

The answer is that most people effectively start with Results. They examine the
latest outcome (be that within their professional role, personal life, sporting en-
deavours etc) and, from this, induce mediocre or negative self-explanation (I am
not cut out for sales; I dont have the ability to be successful in this role; I will
never find my perfect partner; I will never beat my running time of five-years ago
etc). This, in turn, leads to (subconsciously at least) mediocre or negative self-
image, which begets the same old behaviours and, unsurprisingly, the same old
results. Often we have little or no idea of this ongoing narrative within ourselves.
If there is one simple message from this section, it is this high-performers
dont start here, they start at the self-talk stage. They recognise that this is the only
domain over which we have full control. They ignore the current situation and
historical results and recognise change has to start with the Voice Within.
This is not easy, however. We have been so emotionally conditioned by our
past experiences and relationships especially so in childhood. There are stud-
ies that show that the typical childhood experience is one of parental negative
reinforcement hugely outweighing positive messages. By a factor of hundreds.


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So, it is of little surprise that most of us are hardened cynics by the time we reach
adulthood. And, this internal dialogue whilst it is a subjective perception of
how the world works becomes our immutable reality, our version of the truth.
Words (spoken internally as well as out loud) have a particularly potent role
here. We are often guilty of over-using extreme negative words: The trains are
always late. No they are not; in fact in the vast majority of occasions they run
to time. There are endless examples. Such words conjure up images and pictures
which, in turn, influence our feelings. Imperceptibly, we put in motion a near
inevitable end-state by dint of the words we use. Conversely, if you flip into
extreme positive affirmation (Its like me to hit my goals) then the opposite
dynamic will be enabled.
Selling is awash with rationalisations as to why you havent hit targets. Every
month of the year has an accompanying narrative as to why sales are slow (De-
cember heading into the Christmas season, January everyone slow out of the
blocks back into New Year, February half-term school holidays have impacted,
March year-end in the way etc). Similarly, at a personal level, there are always
a hundred and one reasons why time cant be found for sales activity (current
client work, latest internal crisis etc). These are, often, rational lies. You have
become a silent victim of your own self-talk.
So, at the start of this journey you need to go right back to the most inacces-
sible recesses of your own psyche and seek to recognise, and correct where neces-
sary, your own self-talk. Owner-managers need little external motivation to sell
and grow their business (the rewards are obvious); it is this inner motivation that
is key. Once adjusted and it takes time to make it a habit ( days apparently)
you will see the pattern change. In turn, you can with authenticity coach
and encourage others to do similar.

ACTIVITY
For one day make a real effort to listen to all the absolute, or
extreme, words you use such as cant, never, everybody,
nobody, always etc. Take note of what you actually say and try to
remember your inner dialogue also. Such words are really powerful
catalysts within your self-confidence cycle. Used positively they
trigger a virtuous cycle; used negatively, they trigger a self-fulfilling,
negative cycle. If you find yourself on reflection saying them
mainly as negative absolutes (I cant do that; I can never find the
time for selling) you now know what needs to change. Spend more
days deliberately listening to yourself until such uttered absolutes
switch over to the positive side. It all starts there.


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MOTIVATION MOMENT
One of the most remarkable, and moving, books that addresses the
concept of self-talk is Victor Frankls Mans Search for Meaning (1946,
Beacon Press). It has sold over 10 million copies and been listed as
one of the ten most influential books in US history. Within it, Frankl
describes his harrowing experience as a Jewish Holocaust survivor
of various concentration camps during World War II. He credits his
own survival with the psychotherapeutic method he developed. He
subsequently went on to found a major psychotherapy school so
my synopsis here will do an injustice to the academic rigour of his
approach. Suffice to say, he recognised and took strength from
the only aspect of his life that the guards could not control or
impose upon him. Amidst the utter depravation and evilness of his
captors, he retained ownership of his self-talk and self-image. It is an
inspirational story.

Sales Skills Communication Effectiveness


Much of this guide will describe process linear sequences of activity, orderly
disciplines that improve your sales effectiveness. I have made it clear that there
is a real management discipline, or science, that can be brought to bear here.
I am, however, wary of skewing you too far this way. There is, of course, some
art also; but, not so esoteric it cant be a part of a sales capability training pro-
gramme.
There are two key skill areas. Communication effectiveness generally and, as
a related aspect, emotional intelligence (required in order to adjust your behav-
iours contingent on the type of prospective client you are dealing with).
Communication effectiveness has three dimensions. The words we say. The
way we say them. And, our non-verbal signals. Lets take each in turn.
Our actual words as you heard earlier are important. If you dont believe
me, attempt this simple experiment (credited to Zig Ziglar). Try out these re-
spective lines on a friend or partner Darling, you are so beautiful you could
make time stand still and then Honey, your face could stop a clock.
You survived? You still believe your choice of words is immaterial?
Of course they are important. When selling, it is particularly important to
keep communications simple. Dont make people work too hard to understand
your message. They will soon tire of this. Anecdotally, the Wall Street Journals
editorial guide implores its contributors to write as if addressing a -year-old
reader. This does not reduce its journalistic reputation for quality reporting;


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conversely, it enhances it. We can often, in sales conversations or proposals, use


half the number of words we actually use and be better placed for it. With the
spoken word, it really pays to record your conversations and presentations for
play-back review. You will be amazed at how many superfluous umm, basi-
cally, actuallys, there are. We all have these verbal tics; getting rid of them will
improve your voice mastery, which will improve your ability to communicate
and influence.
Next, is the way we say them. Voice intonation can, literally, inverse the
meaning or intent of the actual words being used. This is particularly marked on
telephone calls. There is a real difference between someone with a relaxed, paced
tempo and calm timbre and someone gabbling away. One invites dialogue; the
other invites rushed exit.
Finally, we all know that non-verbal signals play a role also. How we dress,
hold ourselves, our facial demeanour etc. Anthony Robins, the motivational
coach, often facilitates a demonstration of this. He takes three members from
his audience and asks one (A) to close their eyes. He then asks another (B) to get
into the position of a mood of their choosing. Finally, he asks the third person
(C) to rearrange (A) to the identical position of (B). When completed, (A) is
asked to describe how the position makes them feel and it is remarkable how the
mood can be so readily and accurately transmitted across.
I will refrain from citing a specific statistic as to each dimensions relative
contribution to the overall message. Maybe, like me, such claims of unscientific
absoluteness in such studies irritate you. Suffice to say that the non-verbal di-
mension is commonly recognised as carrying the most weight, followed by the
way we say it, with the actual words used a poor third. All of this is a salutary
reminder of the importance of first impressions and appearance.
I dont have space to do the emotional intelligence aspect justice. Its a
fulsome area of research and writing in its own right. Other than to say, the
best salespeople sell the way people want to buy. And, everybody wants to buy
slightly differently. Some prospective clients are gregarious and animated, oth-
ers introvert and controlled. Some are assertive, others far more amiable and
relaxed. The key is to be open-minded as to these differences and flexible in
your behaviours contingent on what you believe best suits your interlocutors
preference. Knowledge and experience in the various personality-inventory tools
(Myers-Briggs, KAI, Belbin, DISC etc) is useful here as they each facilitate self-
awareness and a recognition of different personality types. From there on in, it is
a matter of intelligent trial and error, sharing observations with colleagues after
shared meetings and seeking feedback whenever possible.


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ACTIVITY
Start to make a habit of occasionally recording your presentations
and communication moments. Review the playback for one or two
areas in which you can make focused improvement. Even better, ask
a trusted friend, or colleague, for constructive critique.

Hunting and Farming Getting the Balance Right


Before we get into the key elements of selling, I want to cover the question
of balance between time spent hunting (winning completely new clients) and
time spent farming (winning more work with existing clients). For the start-up
entrepreneur, the question doesnt exist; it is just a case of gaining the first client
(or two). Thereafter, however, and certainly for maturer businesses this appor-
tionment of selling time, energy and monies is really critical.
Well, there is no magic ratio but what I would say is this the common
mistake is to overly skew towards hunting. This is probably for a number of rea-
sons. We all love the thrill of the chase. A new client account sounds the klaxons
in the office and triggers team-wide adulation of the successful sales person. It
always feels like a fundamental milestone for an ambitious business. At an in-
dividual level, it satisfies our professional desire for career variety and challenge.
Perhaps, also, we are overly wary of the reputation-based risk of over-stepping
a line at existing clients of succumbing to the Big Firm malaise of landing
and expanding. It seems easier, therefore, to focus sales activity in completely
new directions.
What is often under-valued in all of this, however, is the asymmetry of the
effort/reward equation between the two categories of sales activity. You will al-
ways get a far greater bang for your (time/effort) buck when farming relative
to hunting. This is for a number of reasons that are worth acknowledgement.
With existing clients, you have had the opportunity to impress them with your
actual values and service excellence as opposed to a rhetorical promise (you told
them you go the extra mile on your website, now they know this for real). In
short, the hard-earned elixir of trust is there. It may be, for example, that you
have now transitioned your delivery team to the right leverage place (less senior
time, more junior time) as a result of iterative delivery success. That is, the client
relationship is such that they now just trust you to put the right team in place
to deliver the requirement; whereas, in the early stages, they were all over the
minutiae of this team composition and over-demanding of senior time. In short,
long-standing clients are often more profitable than the newly won accounts.
Furthermore, you have far greater, indeed privileged, insight as to the issues fac-


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ing your existing clients and where you can add further value. You may also face
less competition here; if you are a known entity, you may even have become the
default preferred supplier.
So, for all these reasons, do not under-estimate the healthy balance of effort
that should be directed at farming. Of course, there is an ethical point to be
supervised here. You will deserve their full opprobrium if you ever start pointing
them towards contrived need statements or value-less offerings. At Moorhouse,
we rigorously challenged ourselves, in this regard, with our never outstay your
welcome value. The point I am making is just that there are often very real,
legitimate future support needs at your existing clients and you need to be as
proactive in the pursuit of these as you do in the hunt for new clients.

ACTIVITY
If you are an established business, ask yourself whether you have this
balance right. Do you recognise, celebrate and reward the colleague
who wins an extension sale in the same way as the colleague who
wins a new client account? You should.

Tracking People Leads-to-Contacts-to-Clients


At the heart of the professional service sale is a relationship or set of relation-
ships. Of course, there are instances when you might be bidding for a piece of
work through a sterile, de-personalised tender exercise (say, for a governmental
contract). Even then though, it is likely that relationships become a (maybe sub-
liminal) feature of the evaluation despite all efforts to make it clinically objective.
Humans are inherently social creatures and services businesses cannot escape this
reality. Conversely, they need to embrace it. In short, this is primarily a human,
or social, endeavour and you need to be fixated on your ability to build rela-
tionships and the trust required for a buyer to buy.
A word of caution up-front. Whilst I will emphasise the numbers (or ratio)
game inherent in this capability, I am not seeking to de-humanise the whole
process. Or, at worst, to encourage some kind of false charade of geniality. Rath-
er, I must reinforce that the best sales person is someone who feels passionately
that their service is of value to their clients and genuinely enjoys the human in-
teraction involved in matching need-with-solution. You can, and should, instil a
numbers discipline with ethics and authenticity. The two aspects are completely
mutually compatible.
So, how do you best track people through the pipeline? As per usual, there is


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no one right answer; so, what I share with you now is just a model variant that
works. The important thing is that you adjust it as required in order to settle on
an approach that is cemented within your firm. The critical success factor lies
more in the embedment of a collectively understood method/language within
your firm and less in the fine specifics of the process you design.
Fundamentally, I am recommending that you build a holistic view of the
people pipeline. It starts with a Lead; this can be a very tepid or tenuous connec-
tion maybe just someone you have seen listed as being in a typical buying role
but you havent met. Next, we have Contacts; this is someone that you have had
even the most basic contact with (for example, you have established that they
are, indeed, in a relevant position or you may have had cursory conversation).
As such, in my model, the Lead-to-Contact conversion can happen very quickly
and effortlessly. At the end of the pipe you have Clients, relationships that have
put their signature to a sold piece of work. It is, therefore, the Contact-to-Client
conversion we need to really focus upon.
Your fixation here should be one of how quickly you can make this happen.
To manage this especially so when you start to perform this at the requisite
volume you need to know who is at what stage in this chronological journey
such that you are constantly and proactively engaged in moving your relation-
ships one stage closer to the sale. Allow me to illustrate with the following cat-
egorisation model:

Figure 8.6: Illustrative contact categorisation 3


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Hopefully, the schematic above is self-explanatory; it shows a logical time-


based progression along the lines I used at Moorhouse. The A- (Oil Pan )
warrants some explanation. This was just the level to which we assigned any
contact that essentially was a dead end but whose information we didnt want
to completely lose.
Once you have designed a categorisation system and set up a firm-wide con-
tact pipeline that uses this reference, you will be able to see how many sit at
each level (for yourself and across the wider firm). This, in turn, enables a step
change in the management disciplines you can bring to bear on this activity.
At a personal level, you can access a contact record through this view. Each day
and this should be a daily activity you seek to generate forward momentum.
You will want to move a few from the A- entry point to the status of a booked
meeting (maybe via an introductory call). You will certainly want to keep a close
eye on the A-s asking yourself What more can I do to nudge this to the final sale
moment? And, of course, you are constantly seeking to progress the A-s down
the pipe with catch-up conversations (Is there anything more you need from us
to support buying decision?; invites to firm events to keep dialogue active etc).
At a collective capability level, this is all about numbers and, more impor-
tantly, key ratios. After a while we knew the level of meetings we needed to
schedule each month (that is the number of contacts we moved from A- to
A-) for us to meet our forward revenue plans in, say, six months time. With
historical data, this became almost scientific; that is a dip in revenue was almost
wholly explainable by the dip in this essential leading activity six months prior.
So, capturing and managing this data across the firm becomes invaluable to the
leaders of the business.
Clearly, all of this is best enabled by a shared tool. Apart from the common
pipeline view, this reduces the risk of duplicative or uncoordinated sales activity
also. Further, once you approach the levels of activity required to be successful
here, it is impossible to remember where you are with each conversation with-
out some form of electronic record. Even if your IT budgets are constrained
initially, there is no excuse not to implement some form of system immediately;
this really can be done on a shoestring. In the earliest efforts at Moorhouse, we
simply used Microsoft Outlook contacts (a very common email application) to
manage this via a shared folder. The key was the category data field that would be
applied to every contact within this folder. Nowadays, however, there are many
tremendous cloud-based applications that bring a rich additional feature set to
this process not least the management of related tasks (calls, meetings etc) and
the reporting of key activity/ratio metrics. After a detailed system evaluation
exercise, we eventually moved to SalesForce and found this to be an excellent
enabler. It moved us another significant step up the selling maturity curve and I
implore you to research such systems from an early stage also.


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ACTIVITY
If you have no comparable process in place, this is far too important
to leave a moment longer. Take some time to develop your
categorisation process (or maybe stick to the one I have referenced).
Sort your contacts now into this pipeline view. I want you to also
think about the type of ratios you need to meet your revenue
targets. To do so, you need to answer the following questions:

U What is the average contract value ($) of work you anticipate


selling?

U How many of these average units do you need to sale to meet


plan?

U How many proposals do you envisage producing to win a piece


of work (win ratio)?

U How many prospect meetings do you envisage having to


generate for each single request for proposal (meeting-to-
proposal ratio)?

U How many calls do you envisage needing to make for each


booked meeting (call-to-meeting ratio)?

Through this structured working-back analysis you then arrive at a


hypothesis as to the level of up-front, leading sales activity required
to generate your downstream success. Are you anywhere near it?

TOP TIPS
Regardless of your contact management software, you should
ensure that the contact record contains a sales categorisation
label and the primary contact owner within your firm. This point
is really key. You dont need to be so rigid as to enforce one-to-
one relationships; clearly the world is not that simple. But, as this
activity starts to include many contacts, it is important you remain
coordinated and the best way of doing this is by having clear,
primary owners allocated to each contact.
Another aspect we found useful to introduce as a collective
language point was a common set of abbreviations used when
contact records were being updated. For example: 120522 LVMM


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= Left voicemail message on their mobile on the 22 May 2012.


Clearly, the more information you collect on conversations the better
(especially so when contacts/relationships are transferred) and any
such established code can speed up this capture exercise.
As described in the Activity above, it is essential that you get
familiar with the sales conversion ratios on which your revenue plan
is based. At least have a hypothesis to test and a target to aim
for and improve upon. If you have no idea because you lack any
experiential data on which to base this, then you might want to
start with the 7-to-1 rule of thumb that many firms cite. That is, it
takes seven (well-placed) calls to generate one meeting and seven
meetings to generate one proposal request. Thereafter, you are
in the realm of win ratios/targets which will typically lie anywhere
between 1050% dependent on the nature of your business sector
and quality of your proposal/service!

Tracking Opportunities Building the Pipeline


Having covered the tracking of people through the core relationship-build pro-
cess, lets turn now to the tracking of opportunities that emanate from this ac-
tivity. The pipeline view that you build from this side of the equation is the
key feed into your forward revenue forecasting. And, remember, being able to
demonstrate that you have an accurate forecasting capability is probably one of
the most important Multiple Enhancers your business can have (see Guide ).
Opportunities come from many directions and sources. Primarily, they come
from your proactive development of relationships be that new contacts or
existing clients. You may even have some contacts that generate multiple oppor-
tunities. Further, some opportunities do occasionally come from outside your
people pipeline; be that through a commercial framework agreement you reside
on or just an unsolicited approach. Regardless, as soon as you are able to estimate
(even crudely) the dimensions of the potential work (start time, likely tenure,
team size, contract value etc) and the probability of winning it you should add
it to your opportunity pipeline.
Again, allow me to illustrate the types of category you may choose to have
here:


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Figure 8.7: Illustrative opportunity stage categorisation

There are a few features to note here. Firstly, an opportunity can enter this pipe-
line at any level (certainly P- to P-) as it may be the case that it arrives hot.
Typically, however, you will fill this pipeline at the P- and P- levels. You should
also note that each level gets assigned a cash flow discount factor. This is the
probability weighting you apply to each opportunity level as a prediction of
whether the related forward revenue will actually manifest. Even when the work
is essentially won (we would only ever assign P- when we had a signed contract)
you will note that this is and not . This is to account for the reality of
credit risk (i.e. not getting paid for work delivered).
As was covered in Guide (Business Organisation), you should review this
pipeline weekly holding each opportunity owner to account as to whether
their categorisations are realistic (whilst, of course, supporting them in the ef-
forts to get it to P-!). Over time and experience, you will get better at placing
opportunities at the right level such that with the assigned discount factor
the aggregate, probability-weighted revenue forecast falls increasingly closer to
your actuals. Clearly, the more opportunities you have in the pipeline, the less
lumpy and the more accurate this forecast becomes also.
As was covered in Guide (Management Information and Decision Mak-
ing), for a number of professional service businesses it makes sense to combine
this with a forward scheduling view (as you are ultimately selling a derivative of
their time). In such a view, you might even assign the opportunity category at a
team member level to reflect the fact that each may have a separate probability
attached to them. For example, a potential client may still be clarifying the scope
of the work and, dependent on their final decision, your offered team size will
differ. Such a view might look as follows (Note. The column relates to their
estimate utilisation not the probability of the work being sold).


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Figure 8.8: Illustrative view combining forward resource scheduling and opportunity categorisation

Regardless, you should construct a tool that produces a simple, visual summary
of your forward pipeline (say, looking out - months). As covered in Guide
, not only does this help you manage your opportunity pipeline (making clear
how much activity is required to meet plan etc), it gives you invaluable MI that
you can use to run the business (managing costs if forecast revenue running low
etc). An example of such a view is as follows:

Figure 8.9: Illustrative forward (discounted) revenue pipeline profile

This illustrative view shows the cumulative chart layers of all opportunity cat-
egories. In this instance, it shows category P- (green), category P- (orange), cate-
gory P- (yellow) and category P- (purple). The revenues attached to each of these
opportunities have been weighted as per the associated cash flow discount factor.
As such, the overall profile line (the upper line on the cumulative chart) presents
your best estimate as to what revenue will actually manifest. The chart looks out


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a year forward. The timeline (x axis) is broken down into weekly granularity with
the y axis showing revenues/week. Overlaid on this chart is the planned revenue
target (red dashed line) with seasonal (week-based) peaks and troughs.
The reader of such a chart will be stood in time at the far-left point and
can, as such, draw much useful inference from this view. It can be seen, for
instance, that the sold work meets plan for the coming month; thereafter, by
weighted probability, the firm will meet its plan for the next couple of months.
At roughly the three-month out point, however, the profile takes a sharp drop
away from plan (as at the point of the vertical dashed line). Much work needs
to be done to convert opportunities in the two-to-three-month frame and fill-
ing in the sales gap in months four and beyond. You should see now why such a
view, as covered also in Guide , needs to become a regular, core feature of your
management reviews.

ACTIVITY
As per the People Pipeline, if you do not have anything equivalent
in place this is far too important to leave a moment longer.
Develop your category labelling system and load in your current
opportunities in order to build your first graphical pipeline view. This
can all be done initially in a spreadsheet application so may be
the time to blow off the cobwebs on your working knowledge of
such apps!

What do you do?


Thus far, we have explored some of the essential mechanics of a sales process
and capability within a professional service context. What I want to turn to now
is the fundamental elements of interaction and activity that progress contacts
along the people pipeline and opportunities through to contracts. Before we get
going with this an activity.

ACTIVITY
I want you to write down what it is that your firm does. Simple as
that, but take your time.


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How hard did you find that? Perhaps the words came easily as you have given
this prior thought, or perhaps you found yourself waffling or tripping over what
exact words to use. Worst of all, perhaps you filled out multiple pages.
This is crucial stuff. You have to be able to succinctly and memorably ar-
ticulate what it is that you do. The more differentiated your offering, clearly,
the crisper this is Quite simply, we support our clients major food retailers
in the running of social-media-based marketing campaigns. At Moorhouse, I
would say when asked Quite simply, we support organisations who are un-
dertaking complex, scaled transformation programmes. Now, in my new port-
folio-career phase, I would say Quite simply, I support the owners and boards of
professional service firms who are targeting value growth and an option to sell.
You get the point. As a sales dialogue unfolds, you will strip away the layers
of this as required to build the solution the prospect seeks but you will not be
afforded the privilege of this dialogue if initially you cant keep this message
short and sharp.

Initial Contact Face-to-Face


The previous section is extremely relevant in the context of the (often casual) first
encounter with a potential prospect. First off, you need to be aware of how often
these opportunistic situations come about. There are a myriad of places where you
could potentially meet your next key client be it at a professional seminar, train-
ing course, conference event or just out socially.
Certainly, if the event is one that deliberately brings together professionally rel-
evant prospects then you should enter it with a very clear goal; for example, I am
going to leave here with five permissions for a follow-up call. In such a scenario,
get into a proactive mindset. This doesnt mean you need to turn into a superficial
networker; such people stand out noticeably. This is about genuinely wanting to
meet people and find out what they do as opposed to spending the whole day in
the safe comfort of a conversation with work colleagues. Outside of such specific
situations, it is about just being alive to the opportunity. Again, this isnt about
turning into an unctuous used-car salesperson. You are nowhere near selling at this
stage; you are just seeking to set up when relevant a conversation to determine
whether there is any mutual gain in you working together.
So, lets paint a scenario. You are stood in the local community hall waiting to
collect your child from a birthday party and you get chatting to one of the other
parents. After the small talk, she says What is it that you do? You now have your
answer to this. Not a rambling speech but the following
Thank you for asking. I work for [name of company]. Quite simply, [your short
summary].


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Your tone is relaxed as if to say it is all no big deal. The reality is at this
stage most people are not really that interested in what you do; they are just
stepping through the typical choreography of a social interaction. But heres the
key once crisply answered throw it straight back with a polite And what is it
that you do? This is then the time to really listen. If they reveal a career position
that is of potential relevance to your services, then really engage them in conversa-
tion and further explorative questions on this. People, in the vast majority, like
talking about themselves and feeling genuinely listened to. Again, if this affirms
their relevance as a potential prospect (or potential link to such a prospect in their
organisation) then you will want eventually to bring the exchange to a close along
the following lines
Thats very interesting. We have actually done a lot of successful work in the area
that you mention at firms such as A, B and C [your most relevant references]. It sounds
like we should set up a chat over a coffee to see if we can help each other.
Important here remembering the section on effective communication is
how you say this. It is delivered almost with an air of agreed conclusion; as opposed
to a would you mind awfully, if I came and saw you at some point? demeanour.
This is about confidence in what you do, a dialogue between professional equals to
explore whether a client requirement matches a professional offering.
Delivered in this way, assuming there was indeed a relevant professional over-
lap, you will almost certainly derive a positive response from this; a Thats a good
idea; have you got a business card? type response.
From that point on, the real Top Tip is just to bid your farewell and not get
caught in further discussion (at risk of boring them) unless to actually schedule
the meeting there and then. Simply exchange details, ascertain a good time to call
them and say farewell. Oh, and dont forget to pick up your child!
This type of encounter is a really nice way to enter a sales dialogue. It makes the
follow-up call effortless, indeed enjoyable.

TOP TIPS
A good motivational technique is to set not a single target but a
range of target levels. In the scenario of going to a professional
event and knowing you really should come away with a number of
permissions-to-meet, you might set the following:

PRIDE 2 meetings. Pride still intact if you achieve but an I hate


losing motivation seeks for you to be above this level.

REALISTIC 4 meetings. You know this is eminently achievable if


you put your mind to it.


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HIGH 6 meetings. A stretch target but an I enjoy winning


motivation pulls you towards it.

MOTIVATION MOMENT
I really like this story as told in Michael Heppells book Flip It (2009,
Pearson Life)

A bright young psychologist took a month out from his normal work
and flew back and forth every day from Los Angeles to New York
(perhaps he hadnt heard of deep vein thrombosis). He would always
sit in the middle seat. After take-off he would start a conversation
with the person either side but, rather than trying to be interesting,
he would Flip It and focus instead on being interested. All he did
was ask great questions and let the other person speak. At the end
of the journey he would ask them for their details on the premise he
could do something for them or that they would stay in touch. One
week later a researcher would call the people he sat next to. They all
remembered him. They all said how much they liked him; although
none could recall if he was married, what he did for a living or where
he was from (because he never told them). However, the most
amazing part of the research was the fact that over 70% described
him as one of the most interesting people they had ever met.

Initial Contact By Phone


Ah the dreaded phone call. Its amazing what a bad rap this activity gets. Of
course, we all hate the calls from some distant call centre peddling unwanted
services or, worse, patronising us with social small talk up-front. I seek first,
therefore, to adjust your mindset away from this common experience and nega-
tive perception. This was another area that Lars, from SBR Consulting, helped
us with convincing us all of the importance of making such telephone calls
and the preparation required therein.
Of course, building a relationship is best done by meeting in person. We
often hold back on making a final assessment of someone until this physical
encounter. But, on the step-by-step journey to get to this point, a voice conver-
sation (typically on a phone) just happens to be one of the best ways of bringing
this point closer.
In terms of mindset, therefore, be clear that this is about a polite introducto-


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ry conversation between professionals. You will be straight and to the point, with
no false bonhomie or How are you today? type chat. You are simply seeking to
find out a bit more about the current situation in determination of whether your
service can be of value to them.
Very quickly, with that mindset adjustment, you will genuinely find yourself
enjoying such conversations. Yes, you occasionally get to speak to a terse malcon-
tent but you soon learn that these are in a very small minority. The vast majority
of people you speak to are intelligent, professional folk. Even if it transpires your
services are not relevant to them, they are predominantly pleasant conversations.
Soon you will find yourself caught up in the thrill of the chase of this it be-
comes genuinely intriguing to know how each call is going to develop.
The first fundamental point, therefore, is to get your head in the right place
for such activity. Whilst you should always be actively marketing (and hoping
for that rare unsolicited approach or client referral) the simple reality is that this
step, done well, is the most productive game changer in your sales toolbox.
If your attitude to such calls is of the equation, the final is your
method and technique. This, again, is something to harmonise across the firm
such that colleagues have the one way of doing this on which to share practical
experience and peer coach. What I want to cover now, therefore, is an example
track of such a telephone call. I know what you are thinking this is getting
worse, I cant possibly read from a script. This is a natural first reaction but
believe me this will be an invaluable aid; once practiced, it doesnt sound un-
natural at all and it prevents the spontaneous, nervous ad lib which invariably
doesnt end well.
Again, my implore to you is to tweak it for your own circumstance (whilst
recognising there are many subtle elements within it that are there for a reason).
Before we explore this example, I should reiterate that this is primarily about
taking leads at the A- category of the people pipeline and moving them to an
A- (meeting booked). It is an incredibly important stage. Can you imagine if
the majority of your team all put aside a few hours each month to generate two
meetings each what a difference that would make to your sales down the
line! I should also say that this activity needs to sit within a broader strategy; for
example a campaign to seek to do more business within a certain sector within
a certain region. You might therefore have a set of leads already generated by
your marketing function (and stored in your contact management system) or
you might, within this overall strategy, be actively searching for leads as you
go. With the prevalence of the internet, generally, and professional networking
tools (e.g. LinkedIn), specifically, this is easily done. You should, of course, ap-
ply some intelligent qualification to this step but as soon as you feel you might
have found someone worth talking to, its really a case of just getting on with it.
And here is a track I recommend as originally developed by SBR Consulting


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that, over the years, generated hundreds of meetings and, more importantly,
some great client relationships
Oh, before you get into it please note one of the most important acro-
nyms you will see in this context, SUAL. Or, Shut up and Listen.


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Table 8.1: A request-for-meeting telephone track

ACTIVITY
You will want to craft such a track tailored to your offering. It will,
no doubt, be tweaked further as you test and adjust it with the
experience of early calls. Schedule some time very soon to have a
go at both producing this and, most importantly, at putting it to work.

MOTIVATION MOMENT
As I was writing this very chapter, close to a year after leaving
Moorhouse, I heard of the firms latest new client sales win (a
significant team into a new FTSE 100 business). I smiled broadly
on hearing it as the main protagonist of this win was a relatively
junior colleague (Jason) who embraced all of these practices and
techniques when we first introduced them into the firm. With no
real sales experience, he had used such a track to generate a
dialogue, which led in turn to a meeting, which led in turn to further
professional interaction and, eventually, opportunities to bid for
work. It had, ultimately, resulted in this key moment in his career. His
relationship with the client is now a very close, working one and they
will both probably have forgotten how it started. Of course, not all


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such moments lead to the $million-plus engagement but do you


know what? a near-predictable percentage do.

TOP TIPS
Even with a positive mindset and a great track, consistently applied,
the difference between limited success and high conversion can be
a nuanced affair. I learnt numerous Top Tips after years of practice
and collegial support from others that made a huge difference in
this regard. No book will convey all of these so dont expect early
mastery; it really is a case of learning-by-doing. That all said, what
follows is a sprinkling of ideas to get you going:

U Try and buddy-up with a colleague in joint call sessions in order


to listen to each other as this really helps build confidence and
competence.

U Your body position and language is really important. Buy a


headset so that you are comfortable and can take notes. Stand
up and consciously smile going into the call. At the very least sit
up straight; put your body into a productive state. Remember
sales is a transference of enthusiasm.

U Concentrate on the tone and tempo of your voice. Dont rush


the words out. Even though you may never have met the person,
always position them psychologically as a peer and adopt a
gentle timbre that encourages dialogue.

U Ban the term cold calling in your firm. It carries all the negative
inferences of this activity. You are not selling windows, you are
just starting the process of making professional relationships.

U Harness professional networking tools such as LinkedIn. These


are invaluable for generating leads and introducing yourself as
someone connected via a mutual acquaintance is a well-
accepted entree.

U Block out time for this activity and treat it as importantly as time
with a client. You wouldnt cancel a senior-client meeting just to
progress more emails, so dont let this type of excuse disrupt
scheduled calling time either.


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U Dealing with blockers (PAs, receptionists etc) can become an


art in itself. One tip is to finish a request to be put through with
a polite and firm Thanks before they have had time to refuse.
Ask for a mobile number; you will be surprised how often this is
given. If they remain in the way, just politely ask them for their
name and get off the call (you can seek to disarm them at a
later point).

U The most productive times of the day for calling can be the
hours before 09.00 when busy executives are in their offices,
preparing for the day ahead (before their PA arrives). Similarly,
lunchtime and the hours just after 17.00 before it gets too
unsociably late to make a business call.

U You should always politely push back if just asked to send over
an explanatory email. Say something like I would be happy to
do that but if you are anything like as busy as me, I doubt you
will get time to read it. I would prefer to set up a meeting to find
out more about your situation. If you need more information on
us in the interim then our website is as follows []. At the very
least, seek to get another time for a less rushed call. Of course,
on occasion, it is the only way to progress the dialogue, but
resorting to email typically lowers the chances of progression
significantly so never acquiesce to this immediately

U Remember the purpose of the call is just to set up a meeting


nothing more.

The Sales Meeting


Lets recap. You understand that this all starts with a question of self-motivation
(and time allocation); you also get how important the numbers/ratio process is
and you now have a system in place to track people and opportunities through
the respective pipelines. You may even have broken off from reading to spend
time in the most important of activities arranging meetings with prospective
new clients. Soon, those meetings will start to roll in and, so, it is to this pivotal
moment in any sales dialogue that I want to turn next.
This point in the process should remind you that selling professional services is
distinct from many other forms of business. In this game, similar to much of busi-
ness life, people-buy-from-people. What sets it completely aside, however, is that the


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product is far less tangible and trust-based than a conventional product and, indeed,
the outcomes sought may be uncertain all this needs to be worked through.
I am going to run you through a structure for an introductory meeting that we
developed at Moorhouse (using the acronym S.T.O.N.E.S). This, in turn, was our
particular modification of a structure SBR Consulting developed based on their con-
sultative sales methodology QUIS Selling (Questions, Understanding, Influence,
Solidify). You may well want to develop your own modification. But before, we turn
to this a reminder of why having a common approach is so success-critical. Fun-
damentally, it gives you a common team-wide reference point that can be continu-
ously reviewed and improved. It also means when you buddy-up in a sales meeting
(as is good practice), that you both know exactly where you are in the process (and
dont trip over each other). Finally, and perhaps most importantly, because such ap-
proaches are based on years of actual experience they work; at least, they have the
highest chance of enabling you to progress the relationship towards a sale.
Before we dive into this, I should emphasise that such an approach seeks to
address the number one complaint made by prospective clients in relation to
professional service sales people WE TALK TOO MUCH and, as often goes
hand-in-hand with this WE FAIL TO LISTEN. What I am about to cover
will, hopefully, help you avoid this failure trap.
With that point made, lets step now through the six stages of the STONES
sales meeting structure. There is a lot of information in the following diagrams,
so take your time to read these through.


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Figure 8.10: Key stages of the STONES guide to sales meetings

ACTIVITY
Clearly this can only be truly absorbed in the doing. So get out there
and try it (or a modified alternative) at your next sales meeting. Take
along a colleague and grab a coffee afterwards to talk about how it
went, what went well, what could have been improved etc.

TOP TIPS
It is typical to book a one-hour meeting. Experience taught us,
however, that when selling a professional service of reasonable
complexity 90 minutes was the optimal time for an introductory
chat. This avoids a rushed second-half when you really should be
exploring different ideas as to how best to work together.


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Qualifying Opportunities (Do We Do?)


You will remember from my overview diagram (Figure .) that even if you are
fortunate enough to generate an opportunity from a meeting (or, indeed, any
other source), you need to qualify it. That is, you need to determine whether it
is worth your while, based on reasoned probability, to invest your future time,
monies and opportunity cost in pursuing this potential sale over and above al-
ternatives. As your firm grows and the option set grows in this regard this
becomes a key management skill. Far better to focus on winning a few pieces
of profitable work that you are well matched to than competing mediocrely for
everything you come across.
I recommend you introduce some light formality here albeit this just
to seed a discussion and to make an inherently judgement-based decision. To
illustrate, the figure below shows the one pager we used for this purpose at
Moorhouse (we called it our Do we Do? sheet). As can be seen, we used a sim-
ple checklist to ensure a rounded examination of the multiple aspects of such
a decision:

t Is there a genuine opportunity?

t Can we win it (in terms of our service proposition and our relationship
with the prospect)?

t Are we confident we can deliver the work (and delight the client in so
doing)?

t Finally, is it worth winning from a financial and/or strategic investment


perspective?


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Figure 8.11: An illustrative qualification checklist


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A key point to make here which often comes with experience is that execut-
ing a business strategy often comes down to knowing when to say no. At the
very least, incorporating a simple qualification step into your forming set of pro-
cesses, will ensure you always give this (important time-triage) aspect attention
early in the sales dialogue.

ACTIVITY
If you do not have a qualification checklist, design a simple one now.
You may want to start with the example shown (as included in this
guides resource folder).

Account Development Analysis and Planning


(Build to Win)
Lets assume you have come successfully through this sequence of sales activities.
You have been presented with an opportunity that has survived your qualifica-
tion process you are going all out to win it. Now, dependent on the nature/
complexity of the requirement, and the prioritisation you are assigning to sale
success, will be the issue of how much analysis and planning goes into the ensu-
ing sales activity. For those top-priority pursuits, I propose you again invest in
having a degree of rigour and discipline within your firms capability toolbox. So,
whilst this might not be required in every instance, what I want to describe now
is a simple structure that can enable your efforts during those must win efforts.
What I am talking about here is what we called at Moorhouse our Build to
Win pack; essentially, a set of analytical considerations that would enable us to
best develop our sales approach and activity plan. We might build such a pack
when seeking to win a completely new client (account). If successful, we might
also use a new Build to Win pack to best respond to further such opportuni-
ties within an account. As such, account development was essentially a series of
Build to Win analysis and plans as the diagram below shows.


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Figure 8.12: Structure of the Build to Win pack

We have already covered Part A of this (Qualification), so lets turn now to the
components of Part B (Analysis/Plan).

1. Relationship Analysis
Fundamentally, professional service selling is about understanding the network
of relationships within the organisation you are selling into (who makes the de-


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cision? who influences the decision? etc). What are your relationships like with
these people? Which ones will fight your corner? Which ones know little about
you and warrant some time investment? Oft is the case, that professional service
firms (especially so ones that have deep technical expertise) completely miss this
side of the selling challenge.
As well as examining the conventional organisational chart, you might also
want to build as your knowledge allows a (far more illuminating) picture of
influence as per the illustration below.

Figure 8.13: Illustrative social-network diagram

Similarly, it is worth plotting key decision makers on the following matrix to


ascertain the focus of your relationship development plan.

Figure 8.14: Decision Maker Matrix4


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2. Situation
A situational analysis will seek to cover such aspects as:

t Organisation overview sector, size, key drivers etc.

t Estimate of their budgets.

t Their historical use of professional service providers, approximate annual


spend in this area etc.

t Their key strategic issues as pertinent to your offering.

t Any other issues specific to this opportunity.

3. Competitor Analysis
For your key competitors (say top three), you will want to examine:

t Are they a current provider to the prospective client in question?

t What solution do you believe they will propose?

t What key relationships do they hold?

t Strengths.

t Weaknesses.

t Pricing.

4. Proposed Solution
From these preceding two parts, you can start to draw together a proposed win-
ning solution. Clearly, this is ultimately to be discussed and refined with the
client but this initial thinking is about putting your best first ideas forward. In
relation to this activity, you should consider:

t Your most relevant service propositions and tools.

t Which of your team have the most relevant experience.


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t Your case studies.

t Your networks.

t Potential courses of action (say top three).

t Your selected approach.

t Your USP specific to this opportunity.

t Client benefits arising from your proposed solution.

t Indicative team size and contract value.

t Obstacles to overcome (e.g. procurement, budgetary etc).

5a. Relationship Development Plan


The first of the two key plans builds on the relationship analysis. Using the fol-
lowing column headings, it should lay out a set of objectives that get you closer
to having the requisite influence/relationships with the key decision makers:

t Key Contact Name.

t Contact Owner (within your firm).

t Objective (e.g. to invite to our next breakfast seminar event).

t By When.

5b. Solution Development Plan


The second of the two plans concerns building the solution. This may, for ex-
ample, include partnering with others, developing a prototype or just simply
writing the proposal. Such a plan will typically be captured against the following
headings:

t Action.

t Responsible Owner.


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t Intended Outcome.

t By When.

It should be said in closing that having such a Build to Win proforma to work
through as a team is not a paperwork exercise. Whilst it is good practice to re-
cord your thoughts, the value is not in the completed documentation but in the
structured thinking and discussion that precedes this. That, of course, and the
clear plan(s) that everyone can then prosecute in pursuit of the sale.

ACTIVITY
Youve guessed it. If you havent done so already, time to put in
place simple guidance for account development.

Sector Development
If account development is about continuing to delight a specific client with
ongoing work into new opportunities, sector development is another level above
this process. As discussed in Guide on Business Organisation, you may well
go to market along a sector-based logic. If so, you will want to encourage each
of your sector teams to develop sector-level sales plans. Again, such plans should
be preceded by appropriate analysis; for example, what is the segmentation with-
in the sector, who are the key players, what are the strategic issues being faced
etc. From this, sector planning will typically cover four key areas:

t Business Development (hunting and farming).

t Collateral Development (e.g. thought leadership, sales support materials).

t Market Intelligence (ongoing analysis and opportunity identification).

t Team Up-skilling (sector-specific CPD and knowledge sharing).

Within the key Business Development section of a sector plan, you would want
to see a breakdown of the different forms of sector-level sales activities including:

t Sector-specific Campaigns (e.g. a seminar series based on a focused piece of


research).


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BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT SELLING

t Targeted Priority Accounts (which may each warrant a Build to Win


Pack).

t Ongoing generic sales activity (call, meeting targets etc).

With such a Plan in place, sector teams should meet regularly (say, weekly) to
review progress to plan at an activity level and as per key metrics set (e.g. calls
held, meetings booked, meetings held, revenue booked etc).

Writing Winning Proposals


Of course, for many professional service firms the final hurdle of the sales pro-
cess is the formal proposal. Often, this can be as part of a competitive process. If
so for you, then your sales capability project should also put in place the enablers
that support your staff in producing consistently high-scoring bids (templates,
training etc). Whole books are dedicated to this topic alone so my words are,
necessarily, cursory but sufficient, I hope, to underline the importance of this
area and to steer you away from the main pitfalls.
Fundamentally, a proposal needs to address the four key questions a prospec-
tive client has:

t Do they understand what I need?

t Do I trust them to deliver?

t Can I afford them?

t Can I work with them?

The key messages we would train at Moorhouse focused on communicat-


ing the optimal answers to these questions were as follows:

Treat each bid like a project in its own right.


Have clear owners, plan the development and review schedule and track against
this. Aim to finish early (ahead of any set submission date).

Be compliant (when involved in a formal Invitation to Tender


process).
Dont give the client a simple excuse to rule you out.


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THE FIVE-YEAR ENTREPRENEUR

Dont leap straight into writing.


Develop your key themes and differentiators first. Avoid too much our un-
derstanding, our approach type copy. It can sound pushy and not particularly
client-centric. Design your key graphics first as these can often give real structure
and logic to your case.

Be totally driven by the prospects needs (and evaluation


criteria).
For truly client-centric bids, ask yourselves these seven questions:

t What is the clients (underlying) problem or need?

t What makes this problem worth solving?

t What goals must be met in solving this problem?

t Which of these goals has the highest priority?

t What (creative) solutions can you offer that will help to solve this
problem?

t What results (based on past experience) are likely to result from each of
your proffered options?

t Comparing these results to the clients goals, what is your final recommendation?

And, dont fall into the traps of seeking to be all things to all people or of
making loud claims (world class etc) that cannot be corroborated with evi-
dence. Quantify benefits whenever possible.

Undertake a competitor analysis early in the process.


Examine what differentiates you from the competition as concerns the clients
requirement. Use the proposal to emphasise your strengths and mitigate your
weaknesses. Bake these in throughout the whole proposal. You can also ghost
write to highlight competitor weakness and/or downplay competitor strengths.
For example, Whilst larger agencies may be able to point to regional offices, we
believe this comes with the overhead of a more fragmented, disconnected service.

Develop a clear, aesthetically pleasing document.


That is focused on the prospects key issues and is built around a small number of
themes that truly differentiate you. Use these theme statements to structure and


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BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT SELLING

signpost your document. Bid authors are typically guilty of overwrought documents
with too many words, too few graphics and not enough white space. Dont follow
the herd here. Look back to Guide for some recommended books in this area.

Throughout, apply the prospect test.


Imagine you are the prospective client with only ten minutes to assimilate the
bid. Have you made it easy for them?
The following diagram provides a summary overview as to the characteristics
of a good proposal.

Figure 8.15:Characteristics of a good proposal

TOP TIPS
You will have gleaned from this guide the importance of third-party
reference selling; that is, potential clients will always want to know
where you have worked successfully before. You should therefore
invest time and effort in capturing high-quality qualifications (quals)
in a consistent way on all your key engagements. These can then
be used in proposals, sales literature and on your website (always
check your client is happy with this, of course). You can begin this
process as soon as an engagement starts as opposed to relying
on your memory months after it has ended. In the fullness of time,
you will need an engagement catalogue so that all of your sales
team (hopefully everyone in the firm!) always has easy access to the
most appropriate client qualification/testimonial for their particular


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THE FIVE-YEAR ENTREPRENEUR

dialogue. Not only does this help in proposal writing, it also reminds
everyone of the most apt success stories to reference in those
critical, initial meetings.

Ongoing Capability Development


This has been a key guide with the summary point that all of this selling stuff
(in that it is axiomatic to your success) needs to be systematically built into your
business through a dedicated, project effort. Such a project may easily run
into a multi-year affair but will, eventually, warrant closure. That is, you will
arrive at a point where all of these fundamental building blocks are in place
and being used. That doesnt mean, however, that it is ever a forgotten area. This
capability can atrophy in a moment if you cease to give it the time and attention
it requires; conversely, there is always improvement to be had.
My counsel, therefore, is that even when you have successfully embedded
your firms sales capabilities (built on excellent personal habits) you continue to
subject it to regular review and ongoing development. For example, after we ef-
fectively closed our successful project at Moorhouse, I continued to commission
Lars as an external trainer/coach. It was only in the regular induction sessions
with new joiners and continuation coaching that our sales capability remained
intact and our ambitious revenue targets were met. When it comes to building
a market-leading sales capability, it never stops. As I have said before, excellence
in this regard comes with the humility of knowing you never quite get there.

CAUTION
There is one important area I have not gone into in this guide how
best to reward sales success in terms of any bonus or commission
arrangement within your firm. Whilst such contingent remuneration
is never the sole reason for firm behaviours (developing a sales
habit has, after all, its own intrinsic, skill-development and career-
enhancing benefits) it is, clearly, an important part of the overall
equation. I did not, however, want to distract you from all the critical
aspects of this guide with that particular, multi-faceted diversion.
I will instead cover sales-related bonus arrangements (and the
pros and cons of different models) in Guide 11 (People/Talent
Management Recruitment to Exit).


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BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT SELLING

GUIDE 08 CHECKLIST
F Make an honest appraisal of your current sales capability. You
might want to refer to the Common Mistakes section here.

F Spend a day listening to how you use extreme, or absolute,


words. Do you use them in a positive or negative frame?

F Record your own presentations and communication moments


(e.g. calls, sales meetings etc). Court constructive feedback
from others such that you continuously hone your
communication effectiveness.

F Review the balance of your farming to hunting activity. Do you


recognise and reward equally?

F Set up a people-tracking pipeline.

F Working backwards from your current sales targets, calculate


the key sales ratios (calls-to-meetings, meetings-to-proposals
etc) you need to meet based on your assumptions for
conversion at each point. Pin these up on your wall and
measure actual progress against them.

F Set up an opportunity-tracking pipeline as a feed into a


(discounted) revenue pipeline picture. Schedule time to review
this picture at regular (at least monthly) intervals.

F Capture a short summary of what it is your firm does. Share this


form of words with your colleagues.

F Agree your telephone call track and sales meeting structure.


Get out there and start practising these.

F Build a simple opportunity qualification checklist.

F Develop the companys guidance for account development.

F As appropriate, put in place a dedicated sales capability


project effort to address all of these aspects fully backed by
you, of course.


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THE FIVE-YEAR ENTREPRENEUR

AS A MINIMUM
U Understand that developing a firm-wide sales capability is
about personal sales habits and having staff well trained in, and
compliant with, a common sales methodology (and
accompanying toolset).

U Realise the importance of the key components of a firm-wide


sales methodology a people-tracking pipeline, an
opportunity-tracking pipeline, a telephone track, a sales
meeting structure, a qualification process and, finally, an
account development process.

U Acknowledge that the best way to go about developing this


capability is to run a dedicated project fully backed by the
firms leadership team.

U Recognise that even the best set of processes will not address
the fundamental issue of your sales attitude and the voice
within. It all starts there.


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BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT SELLING

ENDNOTES
1 Developed in the 1970s by Noel Burch, an employee of Gordon Training International.

2 Modern research (e.g. How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world,
Lally/van Jaarsveld/Potts/Wardle, 2010, European Journal of Social Psychology, Volume 40, Issue 6)
has shown that (whilst it depends on the specific habit and the people being tested) on average
it takes 66 days. A much-quoted, popular 21-day hypothesis most likely emanates from a book
published in 1960 by a surgeon, Dr Maxwell Maltz, who noticed that amputees took, on average,
21 days to adjust to the loss of a limb. On this observation, he argued that people take 21 days to
adjust to any major life changes.

3 SBR Consulting Relationship Pipeline

4 SBR Consulting Decision Maker Matrix

5 Based on the SBR Consulting Build to Win system.


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THE FIVE-YEAR ENTREPRENEUR

Special Acknowledgement
In this guide, I am especially indebted to Lars Tewes and SBR Consulting. As
you will read, Lars (MD of SBR Consulting) was a pivotal character in the de-
velopment of Moorhouses sales capability and a number of the systems I refer
to have their provenance with SBR Consulting. The professional collaboration
we shared over the Moorhouse build years was as enjoyable as it was effective;
as such, it was a pleasure to extend this collaboration into the development of
this guide.


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Acknowledgements
Writing a book like building a business is a team sport. In the same way that
I used to feel awkward taking solitary, personal plaudit for Moorhouses success-
es (recognising, always, how many people had contributed to this), so I feel that
the singular descriptive of author belies the massed efforts of contributors, ad-
visers, reviewers, family and friends who truly keep such a project on its tracks.
To this end, as a newcomer author (and publisher), I am particularly grateful
to the support of my editor, Lynda Watson, and typesetter, James Nunn. They
introduced a complete novice to the nuanced craft of writing a book and showed
commendable patience and professionalism as I blundered my way through the
early stages of this process. In a similar vein, thanks go to Jonny Perl, and his
team at Traffic Digital, for the illustrations that help bring this series to life.
I set off on this book series aiming to produce content that was genuinely
relevant and useful to professional service firm entrepreneurs cf. being a com-
plete vanity project (there may still be shades of the latter). If I have got even
close to achieving this aim, then the many expert contributors and reviewers
deserve fulsome plaudit also. Thus far (in the part complete series), this illustri-
ous group includes: James Appleby (Bluefin Solutions), Pete Austin (Suiko), Paul
Collins (Equiteq), Jon Everett, Nick Fletcher (Vivendi Consulting), Bob Hendi-
cott, Tanya Lightbody (Ingenuity Inspired), Andy Marsh (Suiko), Martin Powell
(Cambridge Market Research), Tim Phillips, Jon Russell (Moorhouse), Lars Tew-
es (SBR Consulting), Rupert Tobin (100%Cotton) and Paul Wilson (Provelio).
There would not have been any content or story to tell in the first place,
however, had it not been for the simply awesome team that was the firm Moor-
house during my tenure of MD-ship from 2004 to 2011. Leadership is an ab-
solute privilege and pleasure when you discharge it amidst such a talented
group of colleagues. For any pearls of motivation or knowledge I was able to dis-
pense, I received ten-times back in return from all of those I worked with. There
are too many to name in person here but they all know who they are; collectively,
they are the founders of what will, hopefully, be a great firm for many years to
come. To all of them, a heartfelt thank you for supporting me in building such a
tremendous business and for having such immense companionship and humour
en route. It is a very special thing indeed when your primary reflex, on reflection
of a period in your life, is simply to smile.
Finally, a long overdue thank you to my wife and children. Building a team,
a business or a book can too easily result in a single-tracked restriction of ones
overall vision. I have certainly been guilty of such mildly obsessive pursuits. As
such, Roz, Finlay, Claudia and Annika deserve all concluding credit for their
loving tolerance of an imperfect husband, and father, and for their daily demon-
stration to me of what is truly valuable in life.

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the guide i wish id had to building and selling a professional service business.