Posted by: Sarat Varanasi | February 6, 2010

The quandary of Sales Vs Delivery – or is it Delivery & Sales

Most typical start up consulting organizations are faced with a few questions as they start to expand their organizations

  1. Do we invest in true hunters or do we farm the existing account
  2. Should the delivery people also take responsibility for increasing sales?
  3. Do we need delivery and sales to work together?
  4. Should the executive leadership spend more time on delivery for existing projects or generating more sales?
  5. How do we compensate the delivery team – what % of bonus should be tied to generating sales vs delivery excellence

The straight answer to most of these issues is – a bird in hand is worth 2 in the bush. A project well executed is worth more than 5 projects you are trying to win. As a consultant though, I guess the politically correct answer is – it depends. It depends on various factors like

  1. Financial stability of the organization
  2. The number of clients you are currently nurturing
  3. The breadth and depth of the service offerings
  4. The trends in the market place
  5. Finally –the most important, the attitude, aptitude, approach and the flexibility of your personnel.



Let us try to answer the 5 questions in a little more detail

Do we invest in true hunter or do we farm the existing accounts: In most cases, if the services you offer are focused rather than being broad, you are most likely to depend on hunters than farming the existing clients. You can take an approach of farming existing clients and growing your portfolio of services but that will end up being a rather lengthy, not so profitable and sometimes even frustrating process. The most important thing to build your portfolio of services is to make sure your delivery on existing projects exceeds expectations and you build relationships with Influencers in the client organization.

Should delivery people be held responsible for sales: I think the better way of answering this question is “do my people have the right skill set to deliver & sell and how what is the bandwidth of the current resources. While the delivery managers might be willing to put in more effort into the process, if they do not have the aptitude or liking to sell, any amount of pushing by the senior executives is likely to result in marginal success. Unfortunately though many companies try to push the envelope with the delivery managers to make things work and get frustrated through the process.

Do we need delivery and sales to work together: in most cases, it is not the question of do we need sales and delivery to work together but it is how much and how well. says the best tool to sell professional services is case studies. I could not agree with them more on this. In order to sell, you need to have case studies and in order to have case studies, you need to deliver efficiently and effectively. Sales teams can bring customers to the table but it is the delivery teams who make them drink the kool-aid of your organization’s capabilities.

Should the executive team spend more time on generating sales or ensuring delivery efficiencies: The right answer to this is – ofcourse generating leads and closing sales. However, they will be able to do that only if the leadership in the delivery organization is in place. The executive team has to make sure they bring in strong leaders into the delivery organization who understand the intricacies of delivery, who can put processes/ procedures in place and are capable of recruiting the right second level leadership from the get go.

How do we compensate the delivery team: This really depends on the structure of your organization? In an ideal world, there are 3 different people working with the client – the client manager (overall client relationship responsibility), the account executive (true hunter) and the delivery managers. The delivery managers as the name suggests have a higher degree of compensation based on performance metrics and delivery metrics but are also heavily impacted by client profitability targets. The client managers are heavily impacted by client profitability, customer satisfaction ratings. The account executives on the other hand are purely compensated on cash flow and revenue targets.


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