Sales Partnerships, Inc.

Gold Stevie Award Winner 2012, Click to Enter The 2014 American Business Awards

Company: Sales Partnerships, Inc., Westminster, CO
Company Description: Sales Partnerships, Inc. is an outsourced sales force company providing dedicated branded representation to companies in a number of industries across North America.
Nomination Category: Sales Awards Team Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Field Sales Team of the Year

Nomination Title: SPI brings sales to light

Tell the story about what this nominated team achieved since the beginning of July 2013 (up to 650 words). Focus on specific accomplishments, and relate these accomplishments to past performance or industry norms. Be sure to mention obstacles overcome, innovations or discoveries made, and outcomes:

A large conglomerate, came to us to lead the field sales effort for a new business to consumer product that produces electricity from solar power via an alternative and innovative technology rather than traditional panel systems. The new line was a different type of sale from the company’s legacy products or from the industry traditional panels. They had an incredible market opportunity but not the established solution for seizing their market. This represented a very high profile product line that showed the client’s amazing innovation and talents.

The sales challenge for this new product, a visually appealing solar roofing system, was so different that Sales Partnerships was brought in to deliver the successful, quick, and scalable nationwide sales model.

Rapid market capture combined with controlled cost of acquisition were critical. At the same time, brand integrity was critical – the client represented the gold standard for the solar industry. The sales force had to match the reputation of the brand image while helping to ensure that the channel dealers would do the same.

The client reached out to us to build a field sales solution, solely dedicated to selling the.its line of solar solutions. They wanted to work with an outside firm because it would,

• save precious time to market in the competitive photo-voltaic market
• allow them to work with trusted partners who understood how to represent a brand
• preserve revenue of their legacy products
• custom build a field sales program
• provide immediate access to all the largest US markets for solar sales

These needs were a perfect fit for our outsourced field sales solutions.

Challenges

The legacy sales channels that the client used weren’t ideal for this solution. The new model would need a great deal of custom development. A process that takes the average Fortune 500 Company 12-18 months (with an industry failure average rate exceeding 50%) needed to be mastered in less than 6 months.

Dealer/roofer/builder adoption of the product was limited. These target channels have less sales expertise than you’d see in more technical industries. The value proposition had to be translated into formats they could leverage through their sales forces as well.

The sale can be complex. The higher up-front price point than traditional panel solutions combined with the technology being new and unfamiliar to buyers and roofers slowed adoption.

Customer objections in the sale frequently came from association with legacy solar products. Issues including price competitiveness challenges (the product came in at a substantially higher price point), industry sales forces focused on price selling rather than value selling, and no established vehicle for successful sales of a high-end complex system. While the system provided a viable value story – this represented challenging how one of the biggest emerging markets in the world would be sold.

The client initially built the sales efforts using a dealer model/channel sales but knew a bigger opportunity was being missed. The value story of the product being substantially different from the market norm and it being unclear how this solution was a better value story for dealers and roofers to sell stunted production.

Solution

Sales Partnerships Inc. launched and ran a field sales team targeting legacy dealers, new home builders, and similar distribution vehicles. The solution had to be fast, cost-effective, and nation-wide in scope. The key was to present a viable value story to them beyond the traditional ”price-play.”

SPI recruited the teams using our award winning SPRecruit process. Metric based interviewing and testing combined with professional headhunting was crucial in hiring the best talent. The team was then trained in coordination with our client. SPI provided the sales training and helped distill the product and process training into something readily usable in the field. The team was launched using field CRM solutions allowing for accountability of all activity including GPS tracking of activity. Lastly, the team is managed to constantly improve performance. Development plans, based on observation and field data benchmarking, identify how to improve performance of every rep ranging from the lowest producing to the best of the best. This set the program up for success.

We tested how the prior sales model had been working and quickly redefined how to make it more successful. Dealer partners and installer partners were our first target. We got to know the businesses and identify what they care the most about. They want constant business at high margins. Too often they take low margin business just to stay busy without a good plan to get to the more valuable accounts. Coming in, they viewed the company’s solar product to be like all the others – just a price play versus standard electricity with some mild environmental angles to the sale.

By partnering with installers, reps were empowered to help them build their business which provided the value add needed to boost participation. We created solutions for the installers, roofers, and builders that drove new business (both solar and non-solar) and gave them entry into markets they previously had no access. Rather than being viewed as a limited part of a catalog – the client became prioritized by these partners as a critical piece of their business strategy.

We expanded the target sales channel by re-invisioning who the referral sources should be. The product has a visually appealing nature – we leveraged this to penetrate into an untapped customer base; architects. Field rep were furnished with tablets that contained custom targeted content for reps to demonstrate how the product would look, feel and operate whiling integrating into the systems needed to design and quote deals.

We designed and built a more detailed reporting system to improve activity in the field. This allowed for accountability of the sales process extending all the way through consumer deals being closed. The predictive funnel solutions increased accuracy of pipeline allowing for better allocation of manufacturing resources (lowering costs and speeding product to market).

Results

The SPI field sales team increased sales by 240% per rep compared to prior models and beat the industry average by more than 100%. Cost of sale has been cut by more than 50% with cost of manufacturing reduced as well. Sales revenue is up by more than $50,000/month per rep at a higher profit margin. Market capture more than doubled and is continuing to accelerate.

Simultaneously, resources that the client would have had to point at development of an even more sophisticated internal sales channel were redirected at R&D and product development. This sped the new product development cycle by more than a year with groundbreaking new products and solutions coming to market in 2015.

Perhaps the best representation was the following testimonial from our main contact with the client.

“SPI has a bias for action and being pro-active whether it’s following up on our questions and needs or calling us with new ideas and initiatives to make our sales plan better. They do a fantastic job of mentoring new hires and integrating the SPI sales team with our legacy sales team. SPI really understands how to complement our culture and tailor the program to meet our goals and objectives. SPI is key in helping us to expand our program. “ -Marketing Manager, client company (confidential

For more information, see the attached case study.

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