When you work for a sales organization, you want to see your company grow. Sometimes companies grow internally so they must open more offices to better serve their larger base. Other times, companies grow via mergers and acquisitions. When growth is a result of mergers and acquisitions, be ready for some unexpected growing pains.
Acquired Companies Result in Acquired Silos
As a company acquires other companies, they also acquire different ways of doing business and different sales tools being used across multiple sales teams. These disparate and inconsistent ways of quoting and turning out proposals result in a “siloed” effect with individual companies, all under one name, qualifying, quoting, scoping work – in different and inconsistent ways.
Each group is using its own sales tools and processes. These tools will undoubtedly include a CRM solution, manufacturer configuration tools, spreadsheets, and a library of boilerplate product and services information. Multiply this by the number of new sales people acquired and the breadth of the product portfolio (e.g., ConvergeOne’s recent acquisitions of Annese & Associates, Strategic Products and Services, and Arrow SI).
It’s a recipe for inconsistency, mistakes and margin erosion down the line.
Consistency Gets the Boot
As the one overseeing this sales team, you undoubtedly have managers who report to you. They may have come from the acquired organizations and bring a different way of managing, reporting, and forecasting sales. This is an issue with any large organization with multiple sales offices throughout a region.
When sales teams don’t use a standard set of tools, their customer-facing documents such as proposals and scopes of work are riddled with inconsistencies, inaccurate information and many times are incomplete. By contrast, when companies standardize and automate their sales tools and processes – from the earliest qualify/discovery stage through post-sale support and client expansion – change orders and margin creep are greatly reduced.
The True Story of How Ronco Communications Vanquished the Silos
Ronco Communications, headquartered in Buffalo, NY, acquired its sister company along with the various tools used by its ever-growing sales team located in multiple locations. Initially, the lack of standardized tools and acquired processes led to chaos:
- Proposals and contracts contained outdated product information and pricing
- Clients crossing sales territories received completely different proposals for similar projects
- Proposals were inconsistent – they were either elaborate, fully descriptive proposals with a schedule of equipment, pricing, and brochures, or a one-page document with a one-line description of the job and extended price
For Ronco, maintenance contracts were the biggest culprit of scope creep and inaccurate information across the organization. To address this issue, Ronco decided to standardize on a tool – CorsPro’s SalesDoc Architect (SDA). Mike Bucklaew, Sales Engineering Manager, saw the opportunity to correct the matter and seized upon it. Prior to using SDA, some salespeople would use old terms and conditions and pricing that were sometimes 20 years out of date. Because SalesDoc Architect was so easy to customize, they quickly dropped in Ronco’s correct terms and conditions and entitlement language into SalesDoc Architect and distributed the updates to a team of 12 sales engineers. Almost immediately, Bucklaew and the team were generating contracts quickly and efficiently with up-to-date pricing and language.
Today, sales personnel go to their sales engineers for a uniform proposal that is consistent from any office. Per Bucklaew, “Sales love it; it’s less work for the sales team and the final deliverable resonates with the prospect.” As a result of SDA, Ronco’s sales team presents a unified message and pricing structure that is automated from the point of customer data collection through implementation.
Standardizing on tools – and automating them to integrate with each other – will bring your disparate offices together to act as one.
A Series of Unfortunate Events
When you bring together different companies, you bring together many ways of accomplishing similar tasks. You might end up with a variety of ways to do the same thing, resulting in inefficiencies around poorly executed deliverables.
In the end, the well-intentioned work of your sales team can result in a series of unfortunate events:
- Too many hands touching the proposal
- Different people approving different parts
- Operations resources pulled in to review pricing and configuration
- Inaccurate configuration rules
- Outdated pricing
These inefficiencies flow into the assembly of your proposal – including its Executive Summary. The proposal’s Executive Summary is an often-overlooked section but is key in demonstrating that you’ve listened and processed the customer’s needs and requirements. As for your scope of work, wouldn’t rather have a well-defined SOW that removes ambiguity in the implementation stage? Not having one often leads to scope creep and unexpected change orders after the initial sale.
Sales Automation Must be Intentional
How a proposal is configured is often the behind the curtain work of one or several individuals all working to find pricing, parts, discounts, etc. Many companies use large, complex, home-grown Microsoft Excel spreadsheets to configure their sales solution and calculate pricing. That spreadsheet may automate the pricing, but it doesn’t automate the creation of proposal and scope of work content that describes the specific solution and its benefits to the customer. If a surrounding descriptive proposal is used, it is cobbled together using cutting and pasting from company template documents and the manufacturer configuration tool. It can lack maintenance and support, which will require sales to go to a different resource or department for a quote, thus adding more time to the sales cycle. We’re tired just thinking about how long this is taking…
And…Don’t Forget the Scope of Work
If it’s this difficult to produce a quality proposal how difficult is it to include a scope of work (SOW)? Scopes of work are more important than ever. They’ve existed for years, but only with the recent implementation of hosted and software-driven solutions has their need become more paramount. Scopes must now precisely pinpoint what is being sold and implemented, and by whom. Without it, you the seller could easily be on the hook for implementing something you had no intention of implementing.
An inaccurate or non-existent SOW causes at least three issues:
- You give things away on the back end that were discussed but not documented in the front end.
- If you bill for work that has to be done, customers feel like you are nickel-and-diming them.
- Costly non-billable change orders eat away at the margin.
An accurate SOW resolves those issues and sets the stage for a smooth tra
nsition from the sales team to the implementation team.
SalesDoc Architect: A Brighter Outlook for Sales
In 2014, after massive growth, SPS (now a ConvergeOne company) faced the scenario above. One of the biggest complaints inside the organization’s sales team was the inability to create a consistent scope of work. As Jody GrandPre, then Mid-Markets Vice President, stated, “They looked different from every Account Executive and most of the time they were not correct. They didn’t match what was sold.”
After implementing CorsPro’s SalesDoc Architect (SDA), the scopes of work list out exactly what will be installed so that everyone is on the same page. This saves time and money and eliminates misunderstandings. One of the biggest benefits SDA brought to SPS was the ability to generate consistent SOWs that precisely matched what was sold. Because the entire proposal is generated in Microsoft Word, the proposal and scope of work could be further modified to describe complicated and unusual implementations. Said GrandPre, “Customers are not looking at a scope of work as something they are not buying or we are not implementing. To me, that has been the biggest difference – the scopes of work match the configuration of what we are installing.”
Once they hyper-automated their sales processes using CorsPro’s SalesDoc Architect, SPS could quickly and easily include the following in their proposal and scope outputs:
- Services such as training, advanced and 3rd party applications, networking
- Financing options
- Ancillary items related to the equipment room (racks, UPS configuration, patch cords, and panels, etc.)
The Big Take Away
Large organizations with multiple offices in various regions – be it due to mergers and acquisitions or from growth – face a number of growing pains. SDA solves the issues facing large sales organizations:
- Disparate sales offices working as silos
- Manual processes
- Too many internal touches overwhelming resources to produce customer deliverables
- Inconsistencies, inaccuracies, and incomplete documents
- Laborious proposal generation
- Large product lines requiring proposal and SOW language to be constantly updated
- Pricing upkeep
- Different sales tools that don’t integrate or work with each other
- Lack of enforceable rules
The one thing every M&A organization has in common is a disparate sales process that can directly impact margins. Working with CorsPro SalesDoc Architect, you have the ability to integrate both CRM and back office systems like Salesforce and Tigerpaw into every aspect of your pre- and post-sales process automation. Reduce the manual input of data and the steps required to get a proposal out the door. Simplify the process through automation and remember, if you can sell it, CorsPro can automate it resulting in higher sales margins, less scope creep, and happier long-term customers.