Unlocking commercial growth for a property services company
Ian Williams Ltd is one of the UK’s largest privately-owned property services companies. Established over 75 years ago, the company is a leader in its field, and is at the forefront of delivering innovative planned and responsive services to the built environment. The company is also one of the largest painting contractors in the UK and works with high profile clients across the housing, retirement living, education, major and complex loss, public buildings and commercial markets, and is actively involved with many leading industry bodies and associations.
Managing Director Andy Havard explains how the company first came to work with Saline:
We had experimented with different sales approaches over the years, but we’d never really set any clear targets or objectives that were properly aligned with our goals for growth. We knew that we needed a coherent sales strategy. I was introduced to the Saline team through a mutual connection, a business founder who had engaged them to do outsourced sales for his eco consultancy firm, and who recommended them highly.
Auditing Done Differently
Following some initial conversations to understand the company’s needs, Saline was engaged to undertake a full professional audit of the Ian Williams sales activity. Andy tells us:
We already had a pretty good idea of where our problems were, and where they weren’t. We felt that we had a solid commercial approach, but we wanted to focus on improving, refining and tightening up our direct sales operations.
Andy and the Saline team were in regular contact before the audit began, and there were more conversations and check-ins throughout the process. The audit ran through all levels of the organisation, as Saline gathered perspectives from team members in all departments, and at every level. Their findings went into a tailored report that included clear recommendations and prioritised actions for achieving business growth.
Working with Tim, Kevin and the Saline team felt very collaborative, and that made all the difference. They took a personal approach, and really worked hard to understand our business and our requirements. In that sense, it was quite different from a standard auditing approach, which can often feel a bit transactional. Most auditors conduct their work in isolation using a particular methodology, with minimal input from the client. Sometimes you find that you’ve spent a large amount of money on a process and a report that gives you very little that you can actually use. With Saline, the emphasis was on strong communication and taking a tailored approach, with the goal of delivering a report that included some practical actions that we could implement immediately.
Growing a Sales Team – a Strategic Approach
Rather than outsourcing their sales activity, the Ian Williams team was looking for some expert practical advice on building a direct sales team that would strengthen their whole organisation. Saline took a good look at what was already in place, and made some clear recommendations for how the company could build on their existing firm foundations.
I was very certain that we wanted to grow our own in-house sales team,” says Andy. “But what we needed was the expertise and guidance to help us do this in a way that would work for the long term, and that would scale with us as we grew.
Saline gave us valuable advice on the best way of approaching the market, and how to structure and grow our sales team, based on their own experience and multi-sector knowledge. Following their recommendations, we are now in the process of recruiting more direct sales people, and building our telesales team. We plan to have four regional direct sales managers working to a national sales manager, and an internal telesales team that generates leads for them.
The most obvious benefit to adopting this new structure is that our operational business team will now have a designated sales team to help them bring in the work. That’s something that we were struggling with before – our operational managers were having to do the sales and marketing as well as the delivery, and that wasn’t playing to their strengths. The new structure will bring clarity and efficiency to our organisation.”
Focus on the Future
The new Ian Williams sales team is now well on its way to being fully operational, and has been set up to scale as the business grows. Andy tells us:
We have some very clear targets for the volume of inquiries we expect to see as a result of these changes in the year ahead, and from there it’ll be up to our direct sales team to convert the leads into actual client work for the business. Working with Saline has enabled us to make some crucial changes to the way we deliver our sales. We’re excited to make a start, and optimistic for what the future will bring.