Atrium brought in Vertical Sales to make sure its management structure was strong enough to drive growth and meet the needs of its succession plan.
London-based lighting solutions company Atrium is a dynamic business with big ambitions. Chairman Patrick Dormoy and his managing director son Ulysse have a succession plan in place and are preparing the company for exit within the next few years. To do this, driving further growth and strengthening their management structure is vital; potential buyers will want to see that the business is sustainable once the current owners have departed.
“The first aim was to drive and develop the capabilities of our two sales directors,” explains Ulysse Dormoy. “We recognised we needed professional help and, following a recommendation, turned to Cathy Bennett of sales consultancy Vertical Sales, and following an initial meeting we felt that she was the right fit for Atrium.”
When Cathy came on board in September 2012, the two sales directors were managing Atrium’s six-strong sales team between them. Going beyond performance coaching, Cathy developed a solution to help improve the structure of the business and drive future growth, based on her sense that the sales directors had two different skills sets.
A multi-faceted assessment of the two sales directors helped identify the role best suited to each individual. “On analysing the results, I recommended that rather than sharing responsibility, the two sales directors should have completely different roles,” says Cathy. Click here to read more about the Sales Assessment.
With Atrium team agreeing with her conclusion, they decided to restructure the business around the new roles. As a result, Jeremy Fielding became the sole sales director, while Richard Corcoran took the new position of commercial director. With the roles defined and new business strategy implemented, Cathy could help Richard and Jeremy to develop the skills required for their new positions.
Playing to your strengths
“Jeremy is now our pure sales director looking after our team of six. He’s at the front end of the sales process, picking up the new leads and developing project specifications,” says Richard. “Meanwhile, I pick up what Jeremy and his team starts and close the deal, providing the support that our clients need further down the line. We’re both playing to our strengths.”
As for Jeremy, he’s relishing the new challenge of leading the sales team, and is benefiting from Cathy’s coaching. “I can now delegate more effectively and have better organisational skills. Cathy has taught me to analyse and prepare things in more depth. I’ve learned how to ask my team right questions in terms of what they’re doing, helping them to do a better job without taking over, guiding them to make their own decisions. This has led to the sales team evolving significantly.”
One of Richard’s tasks as Commercial Director is to get much deeper into the sales strategies and procedures. “Before working with Cathy, we didn’t go into as much detail with projects and the follow up wasn’t as thorough towards the end, which is necessary to get it over the line,” he says. “We’re now applying our skills much more effectively and convincingly across the sales process.”
Cathy’s approach of getting under the skin of the companies she works for frequently finds her identifying additional ways to improve businesses. At Atrium, she saw the company’s sales process needed to be defined more clearly. “Top-performing businesses align their sales process with their customers’ buying process,” says Cathy. “We agreed we needed to hone this for Atrium and as a result, the company’s whole business process is now clearly defined.”
Consequently, Atrium is developing a stronger, more customer-focused approach. “We’re making sure we have the right processes in place, from the first phone call to when the customer takes the keys to their new space with all this wonderful lighting in it,” says Richard. “We’re trying to get every element of the cycle worked through and improved where possible.”
Cathy has also worked with Atrium on improving sales pipeline measurement and management, along with introducing sales forecasting.
Building blocks in place
Ulysse Dormoy and his newly deployed directors have seen a marked improvement in the business since the restructuring.
“The change has been very positive, with both Jeremy and Richard coming on in leaps and bounds. It has created a template for developing the whole of the sales team, too, something Cathy is going to help us with next,” says Ulysse.
This new business structure has meant that the Atrium team is working more cohesively, according to Ulysse. “This is backed by a recent example where a £110,00 project dropped to £55,000 and was brought back up to £110,000 by involving the Commercial Director and the whole team working as a unit,” he explains.
“The directors are much clearer on direction and very focused as a result. Richard, for example, has really gripped the database and is driving through improvements and usage. Consequently, client records are much more refined and his confidence with the sales team has increased enormously. Our business mind-set has changed and the organisational redesign will definitely add value.”
With the key building blocks now in place, the business is on track for fulfil its succession ambitions for a successful exit, when the time is right.