Consistent Opportunity Planning Yields Higher Close Rate

Our client is a national provider of power (power, gas, distributed generation, CNG and energy solutions) and is a significant player in all deregulated energy states, competing for business-to-business customers who choose to secure energy solutions both from the open market and the utility. Their team of sellers (“BDMs”) calls directly on clients and brokers, as a portion of the business (40%) still comes indirectly through third parties. Currently, they have about 200 BDM’s and 30-35 sales leaders who cover the East, Midwest, Southwest and California. Some territories have all products (gas and electric), while others may be gas or electric only.

Case Summary

The client turned to Symmetrics Group to further deploy the Standard Operating Procedures (“SOPs”) that we developed in 2013/2014. While high-level opportunity planning was included in the original rollout of the SOPs, our scope did not include teaching the principles, deploying a leadership version for the coaching team or building the skills of the BDMs in this area. When our client decided that they were ready to dive deeper into opportunity planning, they engaged Symmetrics Group to build this content for the leaders and BDMs, as well as deliver the workshops over a two-month period.

Business Challenge

Our client discovered that the BDMs were not developing opportunities in a consistent manner, resulting in lower closing rates. Pursuits were ad-hoc, not disciplined, and the coaching dialogue needed to further develop BDMs and their opportunities was essentially non-existent. Although our client enjoyed a very high renewal rate (80%+), they were losing new business.

BDMs had varying issues with opportunity pursuits – pursuing the wrong decision makers, encountering indirect challenges with brokers, presenting poorly developed cases for change, not clearly articulating value propositions, not developing compelling business drivers, and inefficiently moving the client through the decision process while maximizing their own opportunity. Sales leaders presented another issue, as they were not engaged in opportunity planning in a consistent, systematic manner.

Symmetrics Group Approach

To address these issues, Symmetrics Group further unpacked the original opportunity planning SOP and built content for the leaders and the BDMs. We first developed a coaching program for the leadership team, spending a full day with them focused on the future state and teaching them how to support opportunity planning through coaching. We also built materials for a one-day workshop for the BDMs, where each BDM brought a live opportunity to work through during the session. Using their own opportunity to work through the content not only cemented the fundamentals of opportunity planning, but it also challenged their thinking and helped to uncover existing gaps in real-time. Each leader also participated in the BDM workshops, affording them the chance to take a hands-on approach to coaching the opportunity planning process.

Results

Opportunity planning has produced a very high close rate on the discussed deals. Some were as high as 90%, and most were above 70%. We have shown time and time again that when we discuss, develop and challenge where we are with an opportunity, we close at a higher percentage.

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