Transcript: Ad Instruments- Strategic Selling

Trevor McIntyre: AD Instruments was founded 30 years ago by Michael and Tony MacKnight.  We originally became a company that measured signals for physiological inputs in the medical field, so we have created a product set that allows us now to educate medical professionals and we have grown over the intervening 30 years by expanding our sales force globally.  We had a strong need to change how we interact with our customers or how we dealt with them.  Previously, because we were sending hardware, it was a one-stop, one-kill, one-move type approach but that entire customer journey, when you look at software as a service and the pivot that we were trying to make, meant that we had to change the way that we viewed our sales funnel.  

Traditionally, we were really strong at developing products but we weren’t great at actually maximising the commercial potential of those products.  We needed to shift our mindset as a group.  We were no longer competing just against our traditional rivals but we were competing against highly funded start-ups in the US and we were also competing against people trying to own those customers end to end.  NZTE ran two workshops for us.  The first was around the outcomes of benchmarking us against world class sales organisations and where we fell within that.  As an outcome of that we found that we were not great at strategic selling.  

We also found that it was really difficult for our sales channel to sell software as a service.  When you are selling hardware or bespoke pieces of product your customer is actually your decision maker as well but when you move towards this wider approach you find that you have to engage with multiple stakeholders.  We had a session that was run over a week’s period in our local offices in New Zealand, where we flew around about 60 of our staff from around the world.  We also asked them to bring real world opportunities that they were facing at the time, so rather than it just being a theoretical session it was highly tailored to the particular market needs of all of those individuals.  

Bearing in mind that we have 14 different markets that we sell into globally, each of these markets has a unique kind of aspect.  It isn’t quite the same as the other markets.  They came along and developed plans that they could then take for multiple stakeholders and how they were going to execute on those two opportunities when they returned home.  What we found was they were highly engaged. If we had not done it this way and had not brought in the external resources we wouldn’t have had that level of engagement and it wouldn’t have been as authentic for our team.  A concrete example of how we have managed to adapt our sales process post-workshop has been really visible in two customers.  

The first is the University of Otago where we adapted our normal techniques and it took us two years to conclude the deal.  The second was the University of Sydney.  By using the blue sheet and actually structuring it properly we managed to conclude that deal in four months.  That’s a huge different for us in terms of revenue and cost of acquisition and it makes the business so much more robust and sustainable going forward.  Positive outcomes of the workshops for our staff have been vast and a lot of this has been around engagement.  We found that it re-energised our senior sales leadership and got them passionately connected to where they are and where the opportunities for growth were.  

With our group, small changes make a huge difference, so if we want three percent more against our competitors on new opportunities our revenues will grow 10 percent.  Cumulatively, as you take those small enhancement opportunities you can achieve huge momentum and momentum builds its own momentum, so don’t be afraid.  Reach out and try.  It’s not an understatement to say that we would not be where we are at the moment had it not been for that intervention.  

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