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Transforming complex sales organizations - Understanding the reasons for change - EY - United Kingdom

Transforming complex sales organizations

Understanding the reasons for change

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We established a highly integrated sales-focused EMEIA framework that encouraged people to be more global in their outlook, more integrated in their thinking and more inclusive in their approach.

The global economic downturn took a dramatic turn for the worse in 2008. While most businesses were bracing themselves, we turned to face the storm and began our game-changing transformation — with spectacular results.

Updating the operating model: need for a sales transformation

We are a client-focused organization. Of the 60,000 people in EMEIA, over 75% operate in some form of frontline sales, business development or client function.

Although we were already a global leader, we knew that to deliver on a growth plan an unprecedented sales transformation of these frontline functions was required. This would bring a much greater degree of maturity, connectivity and, above all, consistency, to our sales and business development activities across the entire EMEIA area.

Despite the global economic crisis, we recognized that we could significantly accelerate our growth trajectory by addressing its sales strategy, structure, processes, enabling tools and technology.

Delivering change in a complex industry: aiming at a truly global sales culture

The challenge of transforming to a more sales-driven organization had to be carefully put in context with the nature of the global professional services market, where every client interaction is about understanding and managing client expectations, and communicating commitment and the value delivered.

The professional services and consulting market in which we operate was evolving at the time the transformation program was being developed.

The pure-play strategy firms were moving down the value chain from corporate strategy to process improvement and implementation.

By developing and successfully implementing a sales approach fully aligned with the new organizational structure — and the market in which it operated — we aimed to create a truly global sales culture and ethos that would enable it to make a tangible difference, not only to revenues, but also for its clients and its people.

To address the challenge of four differing models across the service lines, we established a highly integrated sales-focused EMEIA framework that encouraged people to be more global in their outlook, more integrated in their thinking and more inclusive in their approach.

The desired result was clients would benefit from faster responses and more tailored services, and from broader, more experienced teams with deeper industry knowledge.

Transforming the sales function: addressing the roadblocks

Effectively integrating over 60,000 people from scores of different countries and cultures is a formidable transformational challenge. Bringing together so many disparate practices and people revealed vast differences in the strategies, procedures and processes.

An array of challenges needed to be addressed if the transformation was to deliver on its bold objectives:

  • Inadequate allocation of resources to high-growth, high-potential accounts
  • Lack of issue-based, value-based selling skills
  • Barriers to sales effectiveness due to country differences
  • Entrepreneurship-based culture resistant to structured management
  • Expansion of the Advisory business, resulting in many new hires from differing sales backgrounds
  • Lack of consistent technology and IT infrastructure
  • Marketing material that needed to be better connected to client needs
  • Absence of a global approach to account management

 

*Ernst & Young member practices are prohibited from evaluating and compensating audit partners based on their success in selling non-assurance to an audit client. All references to cross-selling relate to Ernst & Young's non-audit clients and do not apply to the Assurance service line.


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