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Case study

Boosting salesforce effectiveness of a PE-owned portfolio company

When an Asia-based private equity consortium purchased a local directory publisher, it inherited a firm that seemed to be in a downward spiral. Both customers and employees were leaving fast, leading to revenue declines in each of the previous five years and little hope for improvement in sight. The investors called on Bain to help turnaround the situation and increase salesforce effectiveness, leading to a more than two time return on their investment upon exit.

  • min read

At a Glance

  • 15% increase in revenue in the first year
  • 2.5x original investment generated in the IPO exit

The Story

The Situation

DirectoryCo* was among the leading directory providers in the Asia-Pacific region, but inefficiencies in its sales process hindered advertising revenue and overall growth. As with many companies, it could not reach its full potential without increasing its salesforce effectiveness.

At the same time, the processes and systems to manage and incentivize sales staff were inadequate. An inefficient compensation structure drove high turnover, but declining revenues made it hard to retain top performers or attract high-quality new salespeople. This vicious cycle perpetuated customer defections, and ultimately, revenue declines.

DirectoryCo's salesforce was spiralling in a vicious cycle resulting in revenue declines:

Our Approach

Bain worked with the new private equity owners, along with DirectoryCo management, to identify, prioritize and resolve the most pressing salesforce challenges.

The teams set the tone for the project by initially segmenting and prioritizing customers and accounts, identifying the profit potential associated with each one. They then moved forward with a number of other initiatives:

  1. Reprioritized customer focus through a rigorous assessment of the market potential of each customer segments and cluster
  2. Determined the optimal approach to serving each customer segment
  3. Established the ideal salesforce model for each segment
  4. Set productivity improvement targets
  5. Outlined staff requirements and a roadmap to achieving targets, with clear initiatives on how to get there
  6. DirectoryCo customers were segemented and prioritized:

Our Recommendations

With the customer and account opportunities mapped, the teams moved to ensure that the salesforce was well-equipped to serve these needs with a number of recommendations:
  • Create a customized approach for each customer segment
  • Redefine salesforce models to serve each segment, including necessary changes to account allocation, roles and incentives
  • Set pragmatic KPIs for each level of the salesforce and tie them to key revenue and productivity targets
  • Implement salesforce quality initiatives, including new hires and performance tracking, to improve interactions with customers

The Results

The work resulted in the implementation of six priority initiatives and salesforce effectiveness measures were successfully implemented across the organization, addressing the initial retention and structural issues.

The salesforce turnaround laid the foundation for substantial revenue growth and investment return:

  • Revenue increased 15% in the first year
  • Upon IPO exit, the private equity company generated more than 2.5 times their original investment – within one year

* We take our clients' confidentiality seriously. While we've changed their names, the results are real.

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