shutterstock_121961872By Shan Ali, manager at transformation consultancy Moorhouse

Imagine the scenario: the sales team has been flat out on an exciting opportunity. The customer is driving a hard bargain, wanting more for less, faster than ever. But at last signatures are on the contract, and the celebrations begin. Sure, it’ll be a stretch, but it’s worth it.

As long as the promises can be delivered.

Imagine also, with ink barely dry on the contract, it’s thrown over the wall to the delivery team, who respond in a less than encouraging way:

  • “You want what?”
  • Delivered by when?”
  • For how much?”

Often, this is the first time that the team will realise what they’ve been signed up to. They either won’t have been consulted while the offer was being shaped, or their contributions will have been worked ever-so-slightly to make the numbers work.

And in the rush to achieve a sale, one key fact can be overlooked: it doesn’t matter how good the deal looks on paper, if it can’t be delivered, it’s almost useless.

The need to keep a healthy business pipeline has never been clearer. If there’s no work coming in, you won’t last very long. Business development, locating opportunities and sales are essential, so that everything possible is done to generate real, hard cash.

But remember that someone will need to deliver.

Here are five questions which might help establish if you’re ready to deliver

1. Have you got enough delivery capacity?

Everyone needs to keep an eye on costs, but have you actually trimmed away too much?

Is your delivery team running at an unsustainable pace, because simply too much of the skill base has left the business?

Have you kept up your investment in the team?

2.    Have you bent over backwards to win the deal?

Are you offering deals which simply can’t be delivered?

Are you incentivising your sales team in ways which encourage unhelpful behaviours when it comes to delivery?

3. Is your organisation set up to maximise the chances of success?

Are your sales and delivery teams and partners working together to shape the best deal for both supplier and customer?

Does everyone have an equal voice at the table before an offer goes out to a customer, or are some more equal than others?

4.    Do you know when you’ve got to walk away?

It’s a buyer’s market; customers will drive as hard a bargain as they can. Do you know when “enough is enough”?

5.    Do you know your market position?

Do you have an understanding of where you have room to manoeuvre?

Are you competitive, and not only on price?

Keeping the volume and value of sales healthy is important, but disappointing customers will put you in a very vulnerable position. Repairing damage can be crippling, and recovery can be a long, slow journey. Add to that, you’ll also have a load of work to be done, costing money with diminishing chances of a return.

The time to check is long before the pens come out.