Archive for the ‘Case Studies’ Category

6 Lessons in Sales and Executive Leadership from the World of Retained Search, From Special Guest Blogger Russ Riendeau
January 8, 2011

Russ Riendeau

Our colleague and friend, Russ Riendeau from East Wing Search Group has helped us with an article as our “guest blogger.” I hope you enjoy it and if any of our loyal readers would like to become a “guest blogger,” please let us know as we are always interested in content that will help our clients.

Russell Riendeau, PhD– I do retained search, specializing in sales and executive leadership. Recently I had a couple of experiences with prospects that reinforced several crucial lessons I hope that anyone running a small or midsized business will find beneficial.  So, here we go:

Scene I: A CFO calls to discuss hiring me to find a sales professional for their company. He sends me the job profile and incentive program for me to review, which I do before sending it back to him along with my insights and some data, noting some real challenges in his documents that will make it tough to find the talent he needs. He pushes me to meet with him and tell him what’s wrong with their profile and comps. I suggest some ideas and remind him that I’m paid to deliver the rest of what he’s asking for, and that I’d be happy to go into it in further detail once he retains me.

“Nope, not yet,” he says. He wants more proof, and tells me he feels he’s getting the hard sell from me. I don’t feel that way, so I sit on the email a few days before responding.

Scene II: A little later a president and Vistage member of a different company calls me via a referral. He needs a new VP of Sales. I share my insights, data, methodology, etc. He likes what I have to offer ands agrees to retain me on the spot. Great! So I send an invoice for over $10,000 to begin the search. We meet in a week to design and update new specs to fit the new world at work. It will be a successful project, no doubt.

Scene III: I email back the first CFO and share the story with him from “Scene II.” I suggested that, based on my experience, it’s better that I not work with him, as he’s too skeptical to embrace my ideas. I tell him I understand and respect his views. I was nice, professional, firm and tried not to sound elitist. My intention was genuine.

I’m waiting to hear his reply today.

Now there were six lessons reinforced, as I see them right now:

  1. Missionaries don’t get paid well. Work with companies that believe in the product or service you provide. Then, do it better or different in some way.
  2. Referrals are more profitable than prospecting. If you give value to your current clients, they’ll do the prospecting and promotions for you.
  3. Don’t be afraid to walk away from a doubter. Tell them you are walking away. When they come back begging to work with you, you will be in control.
  4. Have good data and documents to shore up every statement you make. Opinions aren’t valid without data of proof.
  5. It’s not the price. It’s their lack of perception of your value, and it’s your duty to point out the real costs they’ll incur if they don’t use your services.
  6. It’s really fun and empowering to say NO to working with someone that you can feel will be a struggle. It boosts self-confidence and gives you the courage to believe in yourself and abilities.

Case Study: Working with Associations, a Two-Sided Benefit
July 29, 2010

As part of our sales management solutions, we are often asked to go to other areas of the country to work with some of our clients’ outside salespeople. In our downtime, we have two options…sit in the hotel room and watch old movies or get out and meet new companies to work with.

One of the best ways we found to do this was to join a local association, a move we found provides us with multiple benefits when and where we do.

For example, one time we were approached by a trade association to join as a member. We were not necessarily in that industry, but we did serve that industry. In fact, we had several clients in that particular trade, so the opportunity to join made sense: it would give us additional credibility to be networking with more of the people we had been doing business with…and wanted to do business with.

As we got involved with the association, we found out that while they had been successful and had rolled out various benefits for their members, membership was down over the past 18-24 months.

In a move that both parties found beneficial, we agreed for Randolph Sterling, Inc. to offer some additional benefits to that association’s members. These included a one three month membership to our Sales and Marketing (SAM) Peer Advisory Group for each member of the association, as well as a 10% discount on our Growth Audit and Autopsy Service.

The association, in turn, not only recommended us to all of their members who had expressed a need for sales assistance, but asked us to assist them in reaching out to additional prospects for them to help with their membership growth.

In the first month of working with them and their members, we found the following:

  1. 10% of the prospects we spoke to truly did not know what this association did or how it could help them
  2. 14 of the prospects decided to join the association
  3. 35% of the membership had been placed in SAM Groups. 90% of those signed up for a full year after the first meeting
  4. 3 of the members contracted us to assist in managing their manufacturers’ reps
  5. 5 of the companies contracted us to assist in providing our inside sales team to develop new relationships
  6. Member retention was at 100% for the first month in the last 18 months.


Case Study: What Does Losing a Sales Opportunity Cost You?
May 12, 2010

Problem: A provider of used packaging and process equipment machinery has a top notch marketing system for generating new leads. The system also will develop and send a quote out to the prospect looking for a particular piece of machinery, then send a copy to the assigned sales executive, averaging about 200 quotes per day. The sales executives process orders from the prospects who either request more information about a particular machine or are interested in purchasing one.

The system, however, can only tell if a prospect has received and opened the quote, and the sales executives do not have the time to call them to check to make sure everything was received properly, leaving several thousands of dollars on the table from prospects who accidentally deleted the quote before saving it, who may need the quoted item but in a larger or smaller size, or want multiple units and want to see if there is a volume discount

Solution: Randolph Sterling, Inc. was hired first to find out if this company was missing out on opportunities and if so, how many. We were given access to the database of generated quotes from the 6 prior days to contact the decision maker to:

  1. confirm the quote was received
  2. answer any basic questions about the quote and their overall needs, insuring that they were quoted what they truly needed
  3. if they did need a new quote, collect the correct information so that a new quote could be generated
  4. ask if they also might have any equipment for sale

In the first two weeks of calling, we found the following:

  1. 8% of the quotes were not received by the decision maker and needed to be resent, although the system had said they had been properly delivered
  2. 5% of the prospects actually needed a different piece of equipment than was originally quoted or needed multiple pieces of equipment.
  3. Many prospects were basing their buying decision on factors such as delivery time, shipping costs, or the interest in the selling company purchasing some of their used equipment
  4. Several more prospects stated that their decision to purchase rested in the fact that our client actually took the time to follow up, where most of the other competitors did not.

The result of these calls, in just the first two weeks of the project, were over $300,000 in new sales that the client determined they would not have otherwise received.

Case Study: A Lackadaisical Sales Force Reenergized
February 23, 2010

Not long ago we were hired by a component manufacturer. This company specializes in developing solutions for complex components with challenging material requirements including heat treatable stainless steel, titanium, and nickel alloys. They specialize in the areas of medical instruments, aerospace, defense, electrical motors, business equipment, hydraulics, and pneumatics.

Prior to calling us in, they realized that their sales were stagnant and needed help. They wanted us to look at their overall sales process and determine what could be done to increase sales.

We reviewed the overall sales process at this company, interviewed upper management and the sales staff, and consulted the operations staff to find:

  • 80% of sales were from one client
  • Nobody in the organization knew how they attained this client
  • No one had brought in a new project recently
  • Reps were not aggressively marketing our client because they all were either reps for several other companies with shorter sales cycles or they were close to retirement
  • There were limited marketing materials for reps

After discovering these problems, we took the following actions:

Inside Sales Organization

  • Called former and potentially new customers
  • Locally developed relationships
  • Expanded coverage developing relationships in areas at each individual office

Sales Management

  • Took responsibility for managing the manufacturer’s reps by running a monthly sales meeting, which had previously not been done, and maintaining regular contact with the reps
  • Set up best practices where reps shared their knowledge and experiences
  • Reintroduced the company, their strengths, and benefits of selling their products
  • Worked with upper management to develop a “sample board” for reps to bring to clients to show some of the custom designed work they produce.

These were the results:

  • New sales opportunities increased almost 15%
  • With new opportunities and a feeling that they were supported, reps moved our client up on the list of what they talked about to customers
  • Strong increase in activity for everyone at the company
  • Uncovered operational issues not previously known, such as a slow response to quote requests

Case Study: Following Up on Leads
February 11, 2010

One of the companies we work with sells new and used machinery. Some of their machines are very small. Others are very large. Their products are used by a variety of customers that range from bakeries to construction companies.

Prior to contacting Randolph Sterling, their used equipment sales were strong, however, there was a concern that they were not following up on leads as effectively as they could, causing them to miss out on new clients. They were doing a great job of bringing in new opportunities through their internet and email fulfillments, however very little, if any, follow up was done by the sales team because the majority of their time was spent working with prospects who sent in purchase orders.

Their marketing consultants brought Randolph Sterling in to assist with their sales efforts. It was decided that Randolph Sterling should concentrate their initial efforts with the extensive list of prospects that, over the last four weeks, had requested a quote but had not made a purchase.

Within the first hour, an opportunity was uncovered that resulted in an $87,000 sale, and the acquisition of 10 mixers their customer was looking to sell.  Our client won both ways.  They were able to complete a nice sale and found some used machinery to refurbish.

Randolph Sterling continues to work with this company, assisting them in finding numerous sales opportunities. Randolph Sterling is currently helping them, not only by calling for used equipment, but by helping start a sales program for new equipment as well.