|athenahealth provides medical practices with a revenue and clinical cycle management solution that integrates web-based practice management and EMR software, continually updated payer knowledge, and back office processing specialists into a single service.|
Persistence is a key component of inside sales, especially today, as voice mail and email communications dominant the way companies do business. It’s a key attribute of Trish Bertuzzi, president of The Bridge Group, an inside sales implementation consulting organization. It’s her persistence over a 5-year period, in fact, that built her relationship with athenahealth.
The company was at a critical growth point when Jason Loeb, Manager of Sales Development, for athenahealth, and his manager, Deirdre Fenick, Director of Sales Operations, decided to ask The Bridge Group to come in. They believed that their inside sales organization had the potential to contribute more to the bottom line of the company.
Below, Jason describes the engagement and how his organization’s productivity and efficiency has improved because of their work with The Bridge Group.
Building a Stronger Team Model
Trish Bertuzzi has called to touch base with my manager, Deirdre, on a regular basis over the course of the last several years. After once such call recently, we decided that it would be advantageous for us to examine the productivity and efficiency of my inside sales organization. My reps are teamed up with outside sales reps and chartered with scheduling either face-to-face or web meetings. They had been doing a good job at executing with the processes we had in place, but we’re a growing company, with over 500 employees now. What had worked for us in the past was no longer working for us and we needed to evolve.
We had the weight of history on us and we wanted an outside opinion of what best practice inside sales processes we could implement. Because of the telephone relationship that Deirdre and Trish had developed over time, we knew that The Bridge Group had the expertise to provide us with industry-expert insights on how to more successfully align my team with the outside sales reps.
Zeroed in Quickly on The Issues
The Bridge Group’s initial assessment included both phone interviews and onsite observations. Onsite, Laurie Page, a managing partner of The Bridge Group, came in and listened to several of our inside sales reps who were at several different performance levels as they called upon prospective customers. She was quickly able to elucidate several things for us, such as how we could more effectively present our value proposition, how to better target our ideal customer, and how our productivity was falling short when compared to industry standards and best practices.
After the onsite assessment, The Bridge Group presented their evaluation of our situation, with both short- and long-term recommendations. The plan they provided us with didn’t require an “all or nothing” approach, which was very helpful to us. Some recommendations, like creating an Ideal Customer Profile and Pilot Programs to our key markets, had the potential to have immediate impact. Others, such as changing the metrics for sales performance and compensation plans, would take a little bit longer to put into place.
We’ve implemented several of their suggestions and they have already had a positive impact. Many of the long-range recommendations will require some system changes and we’re in the process of making those now.
Not All Leads Are Equal
The biggest takeaway we got from our work with The Bridge Group was that we had been treating every lead as having equal value. They pointed out that not all territories are created equal, not all leads are equal, and that we needed to structure our goals and territories accordingly. They also helped us recognize that we were “touching” leads as opposed to “qualifying” them. We were aware of many of these issues on some level, but The Bridge Group was able to clearly define and articulate them for us.
Before The Bridge Group came in, we were trying to be everything to everyone and that’s just not a recipe for success. Now, we understand that our focus needs to be on the leads that have the most potential value for us.
A Straightforward Approach with Immediate Impact
One of the greatest attributes of working with The Bridge Group is that they have the expertise and skills to be able to diagnosis problem right away in a very clear, direct, and straightforward manner. With both Laurie and Trish, there was not a lot of small talk and it didn’t take a lot of meetings for them to understand our business and our issues. Laurie came in, saw what needed fixing, and made some very good suggestions right on the spot.
The whole engagement with The Bridge Group was a very good use of our time. My experience with consultants in the past has been that they come in and make these incredibly intricate PowerPoint presentations, which look nice, but ultimately, they still haven’t understood your core issues. With The Bridge Group, it was just the opposite – they had the expertise to nail it early on and quickly provided us with recommendations that have already made us more successful.
An Impact on Revenue Expected Soon
Before this engagement, few people on my team were making quota. Now, after making changes to several processes as well as the quota plans, the performance of all the reps has increased. They are taking a step back, deciding whom they want to talk to and what their approach will be with them. They are working more efficiently with our outside sales reps and planning a bit more. They’ve even progressed to the point where they are conducting their own web meetings within their calls.
As these shifts in productivity lead to more qualified leads and an increased number of closed deals, I fully expect to see a dramatic impact on the company’s bottom line.