Case Study

 

Although the name may not be real, the story is and it is representative of the results our customers can achieve when they implement SEskills.

 

TechCo Inc is a multi-billion dollar leader in the networking solutions business and employs hundreds of Pre-Sales Engineers (SEs) worldwide. 

The Problem

The TechCo sales organization was doing well in general, yet issues of inadequate qualification and lengthening sales cycles troubled them.  Indicative of this, pre-sales faced elongated pilots which were stalling revenue and preventing their pilot equipment pool from being assigned to better qualified deals. 

Tactical use of SEs caused inefficiencies in sales process where they: 

  • Had a minimal role in deal qualification 

  • Managed opportunities inconsistently 

  • Rarely questioned requests for their time 

  • Struggled with prioritizing their time 

  • Did little to control the pilot evaluation 

  • Had minimal ownership of solution closure 

  • Were a tactical, educate-and-inform resource 

  • Rarely contributed to the sales rep’s strategy 

 

Like many sales organizations, TechCo was making its numbers and was not compelled to take action, after all, SEs had worked the same way for years.  Why change? 

Management recognized that if these issues continued unabated, there would eventually be a negative impact on longer term sales goals.  However, an investment in skills improvement was not budgeted.  So r
ather than trying to find unallocated expense budget, they determined that the investment ccould be accounted for with minimal impact on the quarterly income statement by writing down pre-paid expense assets over time or amortizing it as an IP investment over time. 

 

With the budgetary hurdle resolved, pre-sales management set several SE improvement goals: 

  • Implement a systematic process 

  • Shorten the length of pilots 

  • Improve the quality of deals 

  • Increase the solution win rate 

  • Increase deal size 

  • Own Solution Closure 

  • Be a strategic partner for the rep 

  • Decrease the length of the sales cycle 

  • Improve the accuracy of the solution closure forecast 

  • Offload time from sales reps 

 

The Rollout

The SEskills program was rolled out in four steps: 

  • A Solution Sales Process assessment was conducted to identify their baseline of existing strengths and areas of skills improvement potential. 

  • Early on, a Managers Workshop was conducted where support for the program was gained from both SE and sales managers, and measurable success criteria were identified. 

  • They took their Americas SE teams through SEskills. 

  • Following training, they began a regimen of regular Technical Opportunity Plan Reviews (TOP).  This frequent, managed use of new skills was critical to TechCo’s success with the program. 

 

The Business Impact

The SE manager in one sales district embraced the Solution Sales Process knowing that long term measurable benefit would only result from the well-managed, regular use of new skills. 

Prior to SEskills, this district had 33 pilots averaging 6 months in length with an 18% win rate.  Average deal was $40k.

6 months later the sales district measured the results. For deals that had pilots: 

  • Closed deals increased from 6 to 18:                    

  • Qualified pilots increased from 33 to 44:                

  • Average deal size increased from $40k to $70k:   

  • Win rate increased from 18% to 40% 

  • Pilot cycle time decreased by 60 days: 

  • Return on their initial SEskills investment:   400% 

 

All targeted sales performance metrics improved.  The SE manager is quick to point out that the SEskills program may not have accounted for all the improvement realized, but here is what he could say: 

SEskills had the following impact: 

  • "was a big contributor to the improvement." 

  • "had dramatic benefit." 

  • "improved team maturity." 

  • "helped tremendously and really did make an impact" 

  • "kept SEs consistent." 

 

In other districts, there were several anecdotal stories describing the benefit being observed from have been through SEskills. 

From SEs: 

  • SEs have indicated that they are gaining back cycles because they and their rep are not wasting time on deals that are not sales worthy.

  • One SE and his rep had mutually decided to walk from some unwinnable deals.  

  • One SE indicated that one of his major deals was accelerated by 45%. 

  • Another SE mentioned how a group review on strategy for pulling pilot equipment moved the deal into the procurement stage immediately. 

 

From SE Managers: 

  • On one team, SEs were doing more hard qualifying questioning than their reps (this frees up the rep’s time for other activities). 

  • One manager indicated he can better manage deals, manage demos, learn from mistakes by doing post-mortems, and keeping focus on the key opportunities in the territory. 

  • Another manager indicates a 30-40% increase in the number of qualified deals in his territory. 

  • Managers report use of common semantics and a more structured approach. 

  • There is closer alignment of SEs with reps on strategy & tactics. 

  • There is more collaboration among SEs. 

  • There is a reduced number of customer pilots.

  • There is better management of customer pilots. 

  • There is a better understanding of the roles of the players in deals, in particular identifying the Solution Decision Maker, and there is a better understanding of the buyer's decision process. 

 

From Sales Reps: 

  • One sales rep reported that the program is awesome, the SE is keeping him on his toes and he now feels very comfortable having the SE go into accounts and move the sales process along without him being involved in solution details. 

  • Another rep likes the fact that SEs are looking at business issues. 

  • One rep likes the opportuntiy review tool so much that he had indicated he was going to use it to present his deals to his management.