How to Improve Sales Performance with Business Analysis
On October 2, Armenia hosted the Conference on System and Business Analysis “Analyst Days. United” (Europe & Asia region) in Yerevan. Sibedge’s Head of Partnerships Andrew and Analyst Julia shared their experience on how to integrate a business analyst deep into a sales department and what results it would bring. This is not common practice so the speech gained the audience's sincere interest and attention and was named the best in its section.
Presale is a set of activities that occur before the sale has been closed. It includes defining business requirements, estimating preliminary cost of the project, forming product vision and identifying solutions to pain points. The purpose of the presale is to craft a technical and commercial proposal (TCP) and sign the contract with the client.
Hindered Interaction Between DepartmentsPresale process is where the sales department meets the production team. At Sibedge, we encountered a few issues due to this in the past.
Without their own analyst, the sales department crafted the TCH much slower. The team had to wait for a specialist to join the sales activities for weeks.
At that time, there was no unified project estimation methodology. Each analyst analyzed the data in their own way so there was no certainty that nothing was missed.
After the projects moved from presale to development stage, they often needed re-evaluation. Due to the lack of input data, the engineers had to spend extra time on it.
Reshuffles in the SalesThe presale team usually consists of specialists from the sales and production departments. Typically, the sales manager requests an analyst in production. We decided to reinvent the classical approach and boosted the sales department with a dedicated production business analyst who had the competencies of both stacks. The updated team now consists of the following specialists:
Sales manager who is responsible for interaction with the client, client validation and deal scoring, preparation of the commercial part of the TCH and deal documentation.
Project Portfolio Manager who validates the proposal strategy, project appraisal and TAP.
Business Analyst who develops the requirements, estimates the project together with the engineers and is responsible for the technical part of the quotation.
Presale FrameworkWe also developed a framework for the presale process to speed it up. The framework diagram looks the following:
The sales manager requests project assessment, and the TAP preparation cycle begins. It takes 3-7 business days on average. When the requirements are clear, they are shaped into a proposal strategy. Then the presale team estimates the project and validates the figures with the project portfolio manager. After that the presale team presents the TCH to the client, and the sales manager collects feedback. With the best outcome, the presale ends with the signing of a contract followed by a presale kick-off meeting and a presale/project analysis. Let's take a closer look at some stages of the framework.
Project EvaluationDepending on the quantity and quality of the data, we estimate the project in two ways.
Rough Estimate. A high-level estimate of the team's capacity for work in the given time period. This is a good option when the client has only a general concept of the future system or product and does not give detailed requirements. By the end of the estimation, the client understands how much time it will take to implement their project.
Detailed Estimate. A detailed estimation based on a hierarchical list of tasks. This option has specified requirements and allows you to estimate the complexity of the project work in terms of implementation stages, services/modules and product versions.
Risks are also calculated. These may include unknown requirements, underestimation of the labor intensity, client-side delays, legacy code, and others.
Technical and Commercial ProposalOur presale framework assumes that a business analyst is responsible for preparing 60% of the content of the sales pitch. Here are the main sections of that document.
Key functions. The analyst clearly describes in the TAP what our estimation includes. It is important to mention only the functions that we will implement.
Architecture and technology stack. The analyst describes a top-level architecture so that the client understands what the solution will consist of, what integration points with internal and external systems there will be, and so on. It also states the technology stack that we propose to use.
Team load and roadmap. The analyst defines the roles and team workload. The client sees how the team size will change at different stages of the project. If necessary, the analyst creates a project roadmap: how and when to develop the product/system versions.
Project Outcomes and BoundariesProject deliverables should be defined correctly in order to match client’s expectations. The analyst describes a set of artifacts (code base, documentation, and so on) and the schedule when they will be transferred to the client. The boundaries of the project are fixed: what the prerequisites, assumptions and limitations there are, what solutions will be used, and so on.
After the TCO is formed, the project portfolio manager validates it. Only after that, the presale team presents the offer to the client.
Seamless transfer of the project to productionOne of the main advantages of our new approach is the seamless transfer of the project to production. Straight after signing the contract with the client, the business analyst holds a presale kick-off meeting with the development team. It provides the engineers with all the necessary information:
The history of interaction with the client: the challenge, the context, the expectations in terms of goals and results.
Presale artifacts: client documentation, high-level architecture, product vision, project estimation, technical proposal, call recordings.
Details on identified risks and the development boundaries.
Presale project analysisAfter the end of the project, we compare the initial estimate, the selected parameters and the risk model with the outcome. It is important to identify the most significant discrepancies between the project estimation at the presale stage and the actual results. Based on this analysis, we can improve the methodology of the sales and production department.
Presale project analysis is done by the project manager, business analyst of the presale team and project portfolio manager. Typically, it takes 1-3 business days.
ConclusionThe transformation of the classical approach to presales had a positive impact on the key metrics:
Project evaluation time decreased from 15.1 to 10.7 business days on average.
Positive feedback from clients on the TAP grew from 54% to 87%.
The satisfaction rate of the internal team increased by 44%.
In many ways, we have achieved this by inviting a production business analyst to the sales department. Here are just a few of the benefits of this change:
The analyst is responsible for the technical and functional part of the TAP and also ensures that the document features only those proposals that are in production.
S/he defines the technology stack, architecture details, development constraints and presents all this to the client.
S/he writes the “Project Outcomes” and “Project Boundaries” sections and they form the basis for the future contract.
The Sales Business Analyst ensures a seamless transition of the project to production.