The important thing about business issues is that everybody’s got one. It may be a different business issue than they had last year, but everybody has an important issue they are also being measured on.
The privately held company out of San Francisco is a streaming media and legislative workflow solutions provider, with all of its business coming anywhere from government to city councils, to the U.S. Congress. Declining tax bases during The Great Recession led all levels of government to cut expenses to match dwindling revenues.
And yet, within nine months of implementing a new sales framework, this startup's focus was to provide public information through the Internet, which started to yield big results. The sales team was up:
“The first brick thrown at us was the economy,” said Ed Roshitsh, president at Granicus. “The second major issue we faced was losing a longtime vice president of sales, leading to a complete retooling of our management team. We also completed our largest acquisition ever to bring in new products. And if that wasn’t enough, we underwent a relocation of our corporate headquarters into a bigger space.”
“Any one of these, on its own, could derail the team,” he added, “but, we managed to not only persevere, we actually accelerated our effectiveness.”
In the face of adversity, that acceleration began after Roshitsh brought in ValueSelling Associate Rick McAninch to not only improve the company’s sales processes, but to also land more deals and bigger orders.
Customized Workshops for Sales and Managers
Post-Training Implementation Plan
“The important thing about business issues is that everybody's got one,”McAninch said. “It may be a different business issue than they had last year, but everybody has something that's really important to them and that they are being measured on. Understanding their business well enough to connect your solution's value to that business issue is the key to ValueSelling.”
Roshitsh was no stranger to ValueSelling, having successfully incorporated the sales framework at two previous companies. After joining Granicus as COO in October 2009, he recognized the company’s 20-member sales force had the markers for success, but lacked a consistent methodology to improve conversion rates and more accurately forecast deals. With a current 99.6% year-to-year customer retention rate, bringing in new business was key to the company’s future. McAninch interviewed select staff to give them input and ownership in the process, while custom-building a two-day training workshop that met everyone’s needs. He also gathered managers prior to the training to install coaching tools and processes, developed a post-training implementation plan, and ensured they were supportive.
McAninch continued to collaborate by setting up bi-weekly management calls after the next quarter's sales campaign launched. Even he's impressed with figures for the first half of the year. “It's a bit surprising, to be honest, because they do face so many challenges right now in that market” he said. “But sometimes those challenges can also be opportunities.”
He also gives a lot of credit to Roshitsh for his leadership. “Ed brings that discipline and consistency as a ultra-marathoner and nine-time Ironman finisher to what he does professionally. He figures out the recipe for success and then manages and motivates his team toward those behaviors.”
Roshitsh offers the following advice to anyone who is trying to come out ahead in a weak economy.
1. Keep your team motivated. “A lot of organizations cut commission plans or delay payment of commissions, and that ‘demotivates’ people trying to bring in new business. We made our commission plan richer and cut quotas, so reps could make some money.
2. Make sure management is properly coaching their team members. This means being supportive and encouraging.
3. Focus on opportunities that have legs. Through proper research and reaching the right people to discuss business issues, sales professionals save time and resources that might otherwise be wasted on courting those without buying power.
“The key is to pre-sell your leadership team, as well as your key influencers within the sales organization,” he said of getting the most from sales training. “One of the biggest mistakes I made during previous rollouts at other companies was to roll it out without letting people know why we were doing this.”
“We wanted to take the sales engagement to a more strategic level, where sales professionals got to business-level issues.” — Rick McAninch