Let's start by understanding how consulting has changed over the years. At first, consultants provided their clients with a multi-hundred-page presentation with all possible kinds of analysis and strategic recommendations.

This approach had its limitations. Without the organization's full buy-in, the solutions were difficult to implement at scale without the long-term support of expensive consultants.

Understanding this, consultants evolved a more modern approach where in addition to providing the answer to "what" should be done, they also coach the client on the "how." This work is done in tandem with the client, where the roles are very dynamic. In this model, both the consultant and the client generate ideas, create prototypes, negotiate with third parties, and propose candidates for new positions, together.

This approach would typically follow these stages:
1. diagnostics to understand the client’s context,
2. recommendations development, and
3. implementations through piloting or big bang at scale
While this modern approach has shown to work well, it does require a lot of top management resources and significant effort to implement the changes throughout the company.

In a recent project, a telecom services provider wanted to accelerate its growth by transitioning its focus from traditional telecom services to industry-specific solutions for its B2B clients. The goal was to have the salesforce implement a radically different sales approach supported by systems and processes that the management team would put in place.
According to the modern approach, a consulting team would first help analyze the current situation by interviewing 15-20 stakeholders at different levels; ideally 20-30 customers, and look into the sales funnel and tools. Having identified the problems, the team would develop a target model and a roadmap for its implementation. One of the components of the implementation plan would undoubtedly be salesforce training. From start to full scaling-up, such a project would take 12-15 months which the telecom company did not have as the sales targets had already been set. Additionally, some key capabilities like the CX management function and an integrated CRM system were missing.

As a result of these constraints, we decided to implement an alternative framework. We started by introducing a value-based selling approach through salesforce training which became the primary driver of change. This new selling approach was tested in real time on clients and leads in the deal flow. The salesforce training format allowed for a dynamic agenda, which varied across different salespeople groups depending on their skills. Moreover, the training served as the platform to run sales processes and tools diagnostics.

Based on the diagnosis and my accumulated experience, I was able to derive hypotheses early on: regarding the salespeople's skills, process gaps, motivation system, and sales tools. Usually, consultants do not have the luxury of conducting in-depth multi-hour interviews with several dozen salespeople as their time is worth its weight in gold. In our case, the interactions provided by the training were beneficial for the salesforce and, at the same time, provided me with a rare opportunity to make direct field observations.

As my hypotheses were validated by management and real-time field testing, we developed strategic recommendations regarding tools, the sales process, customer experience, sales force motivation, and the cultural change required.

The progress made by the salespeople over several months of working together served as a “litmus test” for the applicability of the new sales approach. With this alternative consulting framework, in a short time we:
– institutionalized the new value-based approach to complex digital solutions
– trained several dozen salespeople in this approach
– piloted the approach and reached significant progress on actual deals
– identified strategic initiatives to further support this approach

The willingness of the client team to take risk and move away from traditional problem-solving frameworks. Having a shared view of the final result, the client gave me much flexibility in my interaction with the salespeople. This allowed me to tailor the content of the training and agendas to the specific needs of the salespeople and the leads they were following.
The two success factors for this project were:
2. Margin improvement drivers
1. End-client needs
My many years of experience in transforming B2B sales with an approach that has never let me down. This approach is applicable to almost any transformational task and requires looking at the problem and potential solutions simultaneously through the prism:

Back to modern consulting – it has a lot of advantages and provides clients with comprehensive solutions. However, when you need to accelerate change at all levels of an organization, an alternative framework may serve you better. As an independent consultant, I have the benefit of utilizing different approaches to the benefit of my clients.