TCI Business Capital is a top invoice factoring company in the US. They help their customer finance their receivables and get payments for efficiently and consistently. The company was a typical founder-led organization run by two partners. When the minority partner who was responsible for sales left the organization, there was nobody with experience to step into that leadership role. The remaining partner was more finance and operations driven. At the same time, new competitors were coming into the market making each deal harder to land.
Why They Called
The sales team was lacking leadership. Salespeople were resistant to accountability although they were having a hard time adding new accounts or even generating enough new opportunities to achieve their growth goals. There was a general lack of a strategic plan for how the company would achieve their goals which left it up to the salespeople to figure out. This led them to “chase whatever” and then change direction if it was not working. In addition, there was a definite silo between sales and operations with lots of friction which led to inefficiencies and redundant work. Ownership knew they needed leadership in place to manage sales, but did not know what kind of leader they needed or how to go about hiring them. In short, they knew the sales engine was broken and didn’t know how to fix it.
Concerns Engaging a Consultant
There was some hesitation in bringing in a third party to help. Management wondered if Pivotal would be thorough and be able to really help them make adjustments or just provide the high level recommendations and not really impact needed change. Could they see through the BS that the sales team might throw at them or would they cave to the resistance?
Ownership decided to engage which began with an assessment of the sales organization using Pivotal’s Sales Operating System as a model. Management felt it was “brutally honest” and extremely thorough. “It was unlike anything we had ever seen before” said Mark Zitzewitz, Executive Vice President and General Counsel. "It outlined various areas of opportunity for improvement related to processes, people, tools and leadership. Thank god we didn’t just get marginal advice. This forced a reckoning which is what we needed.”
For the remaining founder, it was a tough pill to swallow since the business was his baby. But he recognized that it served as the roadmap for the critical changes that needed to be made to advance the company to the next level.
Activating the Team
Once the roadmap was established, Pivotal inserted a Sr. Advisor to act as a Fractional Sales Leader. He immediately began working to activate the team. That began with individual direction and accountability in the form of invididual 1 on 1s where salespeople reported out on the accompishment of goals from the previous week, reviewed KPIs related to activites and opportunities, made plans for the current week. “This simple change shined a light on performance in a way that was impossible to ignore," said Zitzewitz. "Salespeople could not hide from any performance issues."
The Pivotal Fractional leader also began working a strategic sales and marketing plan with the leadership. Together, we were able to develop specific initiatives, focus on key target markets and had goals and milestones to pursue which provided much clearer direction to the sales team.
Then Pivotal began working on processes to streamline the flow of deals from sales to operations and improve the communications to make the experience better for the customer and to improve efficiencies for TCI. The team grouped together to determine what processes helped them win more deals and how to make it repeatable by all.
Change did not come without resistance. One salesperson who had been the rainmaker in past years had slowed in performance and self-selected out. The owner also had resistance often bristling at outside suggestions that conflicted with the way things had been previously built and listenging to salespeople who did not want to adapt. Change was at a cross-roads.
Pivotal and TCI management got together to discuss which way to go. During a tense meeting, Pivotal stood by their guns and convinced TCI management that real changes needed to happen if they were going to grow. With some reluctance, the company agreed. “If Pivotal did not dig in their heels at that point, then we most likely would have blown off everything we started."
What turned the tide was success. The TCI sales team started executing on a more discplined approach, stopped randomly chasing opportunities, followed a process based on best practices and sales started occuring. This was the push the company needed to double down on the changes that were implemented. The former rainmaker had left and the #2 salesperson really elevated his game and flourished in the new system. They have since added people and through a more disciplined onboarding process, those new hires have ramped up more quickly and become successful.
Just as sales were increasing, the global pandemic happened. This knocked revenue down 40% as it impacted the key markets that TCI targeted. However, the company stuck by their proven systems and coming out of the pandemic, they were able to grow revenue 200% and net income 160%. New opportunities doubled in the first year coming out of Covid, then doubled again. In addition, they were able to diversify their customer base so as to avoid similar negative impacts from any one industry being down.
The team also works much better. Pivotal helped re-establish workflows and the team now collaborates well vs. operating in silos.
Pivotal then helped put a sales leader in place that could continue driving the processes that led to such growth. Four years into the system the team is rocking and virtually all of the tools, systems and processes that were implemented are still being leveraged.
“Sales was something I used to hate,” stated Zitzewitz. "But since working with Pivotal we have literally gone through a transformation that has allowed us to thrive."
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