Sales Transformation for B2B Manufacturers

Depending on when the financial year end, either your Q1/Q2/Q3 or year-end financial sales results have been reported and your  manufacturing business missed its sales, margin and profitability target.  Your key customers are complaining about your cost, quality and on time delivery performance (OTD) and as such your customers are threatening to switch, unless you offer them price concessions.

Does this scenario sound familiar? it may be time to embark on a Sales Transformation journey to ensure that the strategy, structure and management programs align and provide a clear and sustained path to sales and margin growth.

Progressive world-class manufacturing businesses transform their business by delivering value-added solutions in a way that matches customers’ buying criteria and requirements for superior value in order to deliver sales/margin growth.

A systematically managed Sales Transformation program delivers growth, profitability and customer loyalty. Furthermore, Sales Transformation results in improved manageability, transparency and predictability for the business. Sales Transformation is about how cross-functional sales capabilities and competences need to be managed and developed to reach strategic targets of the company and meet changes in the industry.

In simple terms this means:

WHERE should you focus by market sectors/segments

WHAT is the right offering and value proposition for these markets’ sectors/segment?

HOW should you manage the customer relationships and sales to win in the market?

A Sales Transformation programme should cover:

Sales strategy & planning.

Sales management.

Sales process.

People & skills.

Technology & tools.

All major stakeholders from Business Units and Operations to Support functions and Top management should be involved in the work in order to implement the needed capabilities and enablers for transforming sales.

7 Guidelines for Successfully Carrying out Sales Transformation

1)     Develop a detailed Strategic Plan

Strategic planning is how an organisation defines its direction (where, what and how) and the process it takes to implement and achieve this vision. Typically, this is about establishing your vision, based on your competitive advantage and at the heart of which lies your customer.

2)     Mobilise the transformation team using A3 matrix tool

Transformation succeed with a committed, engaged, cross-functional team. Shared ownership and cross-functional buy-in from leaders in finance, human resources and operations is the foundation for success.  A3 matrix can help you develop a focus and targeted cross functional team that is fully aligned to your end goal.  Just as important is having buy-in from the Sales Director who will translate the new strategy to day-to-day actions that move the needle. It is critical to engage these functional leaders as early as possible to plant the seeds of change. See A3 matrix example where all functional heads are fully aligned with targeted KPI.

3)     Develop a Sales effectiveness customer centric transformation model

a) Sales strategy and planning

Customer value proposition

Customer segmentation

Revenue/coverage planning

Pricing and profit management

Customer experience


 b) Sales management

Sales methodology

Pipeline management

Sales forecasting /Quota Management

Performance management

Key account management


 c) Sales process

Opportunity identification

Understanding customer needs

Opportunity qualification

Managing relationships

Value delivery

Account planning

d) People and skills

Organisation, structure, roles

Recruitment and selection

Talent management

Competency management

Incentives and reward

Culture and communication

 e) Technology and tools


Customer interaction

Enterprise connectivity

Sales dashboards

4)     Listen to the voice of the customer (VOC) 

Feedback from customers should serve as the compass for redesigning the go-to-customer strategy and your sales effectiveness transformation model. Keep the VOC at the forefront of the journey; validate strategic decisions based on a simple criterion: “Will this deliver value-added, customer-centric solutions?” Ask for constructive feedback from key customers as well as channel partners. If need be use external research company to obtain information from your key customers

5)     Look at lagging and leading data

Conducting a detailed sales metrics analysis will help uncover what organisations truly need to transform. Below is a list of metrics to evaluate the health of the sales organisation and identify key issues to remedy. These metrics also serve as a way to measure the effectiveness of the transformation by providing a means to track progress before, during and after the transformation. Think of it as a routine check-up for sales. Develop a monthly/weekly and daily review process. I am a big believer in having a visual board and stand up meeting around the board every morning to check performance of the team.


6)     Transform quickly and completely 

What’s worse than completely re modelling the entire sales process that going over many days, months and years without a clear end in sight. Avoid a tedious, protracted process. Develop the transformation plan/model and communicate the process with a clear yet flexible plan with key milestones identified. Importantly track and share progress, celebrate wins and where targets are missed carry out “5 whys root course counter measure” and change/correct the process as needed.

7)     Continuous learning process / Visual board

The new strategy, structure, sales program and CRM platform have all been launched at the annual sales meeting. The sales team have been re energised while many organisations may believe that the hardest part of the transformation is complete, it is imperative that manufacturers realise that it is actually just the beginning.

Establishing change champions, executing on a robust communication plan, sharing stories early and frequently, and soliciting feedback from internal and external customers is essential to stabilise the transformation and achieve all its benefits.

Change can be embedded by  reviewing key data on daily/weekly basis in front of a  visual management board, where key data, actions and owners are noted and discussed on a daily basis.

Manufacturers who have relied on past product features, a Sales Transformation programme can be a challenge but can also result in a more nimble, efficient and profitable model. Many CEO/Sales Directors who have followed these guidelines have seen revenue and margin gains as well as improved morale stemming from a well-crafted and clearly communicated path to growth. Whether you have led a Sales Transformation before or are thinking of embarking on one for the first time, following these guidelines will set you and your team up for a successful and prosperous journey.

About Author

Rakesh Shah RVR Management has over 20 years’ experience of working with the CEOs and executive teams of high-potential B2B manufacturing organisations. He is MBA and CIM qualified, with a background of delivering Sales Transformations within a range of B2B sectors and offers a range of business tools and support services that deliver sales/margin growth.

Contact Rakesh Shah : 0778 555 8344

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