April 08, 2009

Even in a downturn there are opportunities - one company's story

Market conditions are tough, but some companies are finding it tougher than others.  That is because while everybody is facing the same downturn, not all are reacting to it the same way. Here is an encouraging example.

A large services firm that has hit their revenue target month on month for the first quarter of the year this against a backdrop of:

  • Tighter budgets in the sectors they are selling to
  • Their local competition closing offices and cutting headcount

In Sept 08 the situation was as follows:

  • This firm didn't have to sell proactively in years
  • They had very few new local projects to work on
  • They faced stiff competition for international projects
  • Making contact with past clients, prospective clients was at an all time low

Over a three month period this firm took a number of key steps to address the situation:

  • Firstly they asked people at the grass roots to help with business development
  • Secondly they held workshops with all customer facing staff to remind people about staying in contact with clients
  • Thirdly they reviewed all their old contacts, centralised them and began to make proactive contact
  • Finally they started to note conversations they were having with clients at all levels and got senior staff to come along to meetings to share their insights and expertise with contacts

All quite simple you might say. Well the results have been interesting to see.

  • Activity levels have increased without hiring a single sales person
  • Over a six week period four of their project team handled 20 proposals and won 7
  • In-house experts without any background in sales are spending a few hours a week on business development
  • Their sales target hit 3 months in a row
  • A new pipeline of real work that will bring delivery headaches

I highlight this story because it shows that new projects can be secured despite all the doom and gloom we hear on a daily basis and as this company proved everyone can and should contribute to business development.

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