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Is your “norm” good enough? Are you a service provider who wants to be more successful?

At Vendira we are passionate about helping service providers be more successful. We believe that in order to achieve sustainable success in such a fast-changing industry, it’s imperative to have well-armed and enabled sales and pre-sales teams. We also recognise that all change should be cognisant of service delivery to cash and client solution life-cycle management.

Making a successful change to improve only comes after someone recognises that the “norm” is not good enough and focuses their energy on the “why you can and must change”, rather than a whole heap of reasons why you can’t. It also requires courage, drive and leadership, along with open honest collaborative support from many people. An article in its own right, maybe one for another day.

For those change-leaders, this article provides a taste of what to look for in questioning your “norm”. We recognise that identifying and making improvements can be hard. To do it well requires an understanding of what to look for internally, as well as externally, seeing how others inside and outside of your industry perform. This in itself isn’t easy. We explicitly are not covering what we think are the basics around staffing, sales skills and processes, targets and plans. We are looking at key activities and how effective, or even disruptive, they are.

As an example, take achieving a good standard in any sport, for most it’s not so easy to change normal techniques or even recognise the need to change. Demanding results or measuring the outcome e.g. time to finish (a good lag measure) doesn’t do much to improve performance. Hence the need for coaching, research and kit (tools) that influence, drive and even enforce improvement, these can typically be observed (leading measures). It’s inspiring to see athletes of high standard graciously achieve amazing things while making it look so easy. If you then try to breakdown what it is about their technique that’s better than your own technique, that’s where the challenge begins. I am always awe of how people who have passionately spent years in their field can see good and bad techniques, and how that leaves most of us being blind to seeing technique. The intricacies are simply hard to see. This expert eye is built from years of personal endeavour, coaching, observation of other successful sports persons within and outside of their own field coupled with dialogue with many people across many facets of the sport.

Before we begin, I would like to recognise the importance of creating a working environment that enables people to succeed. When I say working environment, I don’t mean nice office space, I mean an environment that informs, encourages and enables. Sub-optimal working environments create a risk of losing your people due to frustration and inability to perform. If not well managed this can risk the “norm” and hold back any proactive improvement. My advice would be to do your best to enable your teams.

Ok so let’s start, to make things easier I have grouped activities into areas for your consideration. This is not an exhaustive list but something to help inform your strategies and priorities.

Business and supporting service strategy

  • Is your north star and purpose clearly defined? Are your people and clients aware of it? Are they bought in and contributing to it?

  • How is feedback provided, assessed and acted upon?

  • Are your current offerings enough? Are you aware of gaps now or that will form in near term future?

  • Do you have active product and service road-maps in place?

  • How are you going to remain relevant in such fast-changing times?

  • Are you truly meeting your client’s needs, and helping them get the best from their investments?

  • What should it feel like to be your client throughout their solution life-cycle?

  • What are you investing and how in product management and service development?

  • Are you making commercially informed service strategy and road-map decisions?

  • Are you effective in monetising your service capability by making most of the latest vendor developments in creating your value add? Are you giving away services?

Product and Service Life-cycle Management

  • How effective is your product and service life-cycle management capability?

  • Do you have effective process, methods and templates for defining and developing new offerings?

  • How well is Product Management servicing your sales and service capability development teams?

  • How effective is your service capability design and development?

  • Is your operating model defined, effective and appropriate for your service offerings?

  • Do you have a well-defined, easily accessible, central catalogue of product and services?

  • How good is your product revenue reporting? What’s your most profitable and least profitable service?

Product and Service Catalogue and SKU

  • How good are your product naming and SKU standards?

  • Are your units of sale well defined and accurate? Do they align with billing?

  • Do you have the right approach to order based consultative vs consumption metered SKU?

  • How well structured is your catalogue of offerings?

  • How well packaged for sale are your offerings? How are people guided to sell quickly and accurately?

Catalogue Cost and Pricing Management

  • Have you an effective standard cost model architecture that underpins the cost of service?

  • How effective is your cost management? Are costs having to be adjusted for every deal and hence costing more time and effort?

  • What systems are in place to enable cost management?

  • How effective are your standard pricing strategies?

  • How flexible are your pricing tools? (Line item, solution level, group, bundle, component, discount, mark-up, margin, automated pricing, category-based pricing, pricing over term etc.)

  • What governance is in place to enforce good pricing? Is this automated or system governed?

Secure and effective remote working

  • How enabled are your teams to work remotely and securely?

  • How secure are your methods of working? Data-encrypted in transit and at rest? Is company sensitive data easily leaked or leaves with your leavers

  • Have you any online automated workflow approvals that enable your remote workforce?

  • Are your teams battling with systems to build quotes? Can the do this effectively remotely?

  1. Time wasted open large macro-enabled sheets

  2. Unable to work on files remotely

  3. Hitting email limits on file sizes

  4. Ability to jointly work on complex quotes in version safe, audit-able fashion?

  • How many errors and omissions are created as a result of battling with systems?

  • How effective is your version control and change auditing?

Sales & Pre-sales configuring quotes

  • Are sales well informed as to your offerings, including how, when and what to upsell and cross-sell?

  • How many data sources are people having to use in configuring quotes?

  • How accessible is the supporting sales collateral at the time of configuring quotes, how many clicks does it take to access?

  • How easy, enabled and guided are people in configuring quotes?

  • What percentage of your sales teams can configure quotes?

  • How long does it take to become proficient in configuring quotes?

  • How effective and quick is it to configure large scale rough order of magnitude quotes?

  • How effective and quick is it to configure final quotes?

  • How easy is it to compare quote versions?

  • How enabled are your teams to configure quotes in the context of client’s business solution? Rather than a Bill of Materials list of components?

  • How commercially informed are people in configuring quotes? How automated are client contracted price guarantees during the building of quotes?

  • How many errors and omissions are occurring and what is the cost? Are there any trends, what’s the root cause?

Sales Pricing Quotes

  • Are your pricing tools up-to the job? Is there a standard? How many different tools and approaches are used and why?

  • Have the sales team the right level of flexibility on pricing quotes?

  • Do they have standard commercial dashboards or is each person developing their own for each deal?

  • Have you the right pricing support roles in place for your sales team?

  • How easy and automated is your pricing tool(s)? Are you manually applying price guarantees?

  • How are sales teams making the right pricing decisions?

  • How system automated is the Technical and commercial approval of quotes?

  • How systemised is moving from a buy to rental purchase option?

Sales quoting, proposing and ordering

  • How is the consistency and quality of your standard client outputs such as quotes, proposals and statement of work?

  • How do you generate your quote output? Is it automated? Do you have standard templates? What happens when clients need a commercial and service impacting design change made?

  • Are you and your client’s content with the current outputs? What is the feedback?

  • How long does it take to produce your most common outputs? And how clients changing their requirements impact this?

  • How effective is your order and contracting processes?

  • Are you taking advantage of e-signature? And or online order portals?

Sales Pipeline and Revenue Reporting

  • How effective is your sales pipeline reporting based on currently preferred quotes within each sales opportunity?

  • Is this populated manually by sales team opportunity owners? How often is this done and accurate are the figures? How much admin time is this consuming from the sales team?

Service Delivery and Procurement

  • How well is service delivery fed from Sales?

  • Are you re-engaging clients and having to re-ask the same questions that have already been asked during the sales process?

  • How often are unplanned errors and omissions disrupting service delivery? How costly is this both directly and indirectly as a result of delays?

  • How enabled are project teams in knowing what they need to procure for each phase or group of the solution to be delivered?

Client Solution Life-cycle Management

  • Are you tracking the current client install base?

  • Are you clear on client solution service entitlement?

  • How effective are you at managing clients service and commercial queries?

  • How are you dealing with moves, adds, upgrades, downgrades, replacements and decommissions?

  • How effective are your client solution and contract renewal process are you easily able to re-cost and price solutions?

Client invoicing

  • Are you and your clients happy with and trust your current invoicing approach?

  • Are you leaking revenue?

  • Are you spending lots of time dealing with invoicing queries? Do you have missed, incorrect or unknown items on invoicing?

  • Are you clear on all your consumption metered services reporting feeds and SKU alignment to any contractual pricing rate cards?

Metrics and improvements

  • Are you struggling to hit targets and grow revenues?

  • Are you at risk of increasing customer and revenue attrition?

  • How are you measuring current performance?

  • Do you have structured continual improvement frameworks and feedback loops?

  • How are your people feeling? Employee NPS scores?

  • Are your NPS scores where they need to be?

  • How are your people performing?

  1. Number of quotes/orders per month, week and day, by client, by person/role, by value and by type.

  2. Time and effort to produce quote, order sent and signed overall, by client, by person/role, by value and by type.

  3. Number of opportunities quoted on per month, week and day, overall, by client, by person and by value, by win, loss and gone away.

Hopefully, this article gives some food for thought and helps to shine the light on where to look in order to understand if your “norm” is good enough or can see new areas for improvement. There are some significant step improvements service providers can make in being more effective and successful. Feel free to get in touch for a no-obligation consultation as to where you could make improvements and how.

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