Case | HBS Case Collection | October 2016 (Revised January 2018)
BlackRock (A): Selling the Systems?
Ranjay Gulati, Jan W. Rivkin and Kelly McNamara
Keywords: Strategy; Competition; Technology; Asset Management; Competitive Strategy; Financial Services Industry; United States;
Sunrise Medical manufacture and supply mobility devices; wheelchairs, mobility scooters as well as many other homecare products.
They have been in operation since 1985 and have global sales of approximately €350 million.
Since starting their journey with Arrivista, here are some of the changes Sunrise Medical have made so far:
• Built strong foundation to support profitable growth
• Developed sales and marketing tools
• Sales training courses implemented
• Improved efficiency and reduced costs
• Team performance and recruitment systems implemented
• Models and systems replicated across the globe
In 2008 Jim Barratt was appointed as General Manager, Commercial for the UK business. At the time, Sunrise had just closed its manufacturing plant in Scotland, which had not gone down well with its key customer: the NHS. All other business was conducted through an extensive network of re-sellers, mainly multi store front retailers, who felt that the products were ageing and as a result not able to compete with others who had better products and more attractive pricing.
Also, as Jim said: "several years of upheaval and change had left the teams demoralised and success was hard to find."
Jim was referred to Arrivista Business Coaching through a colleague. "I could see straight away that the skills and knowledge Arrivista's coaches possessed and the structured approach was what I needed." Jim has now been working with Arrivista for over 9 years. Jim says "My Arrivista coach is a great sounding board and is always challenging me to consider all the facets that drive the business."
As Jim remarked "We were focused us on providing materials that would help support our dealers to pull customers to their businesses, which helped us to help them."
The first 18 months of working together were aimed at building a solid foundation to drive profitable sales. For example, Arrivista helped Jim and his team to develop sales tools such as lead generation marketing packs for use by the dealer sales teams. As Jim remarked "My coach focused us on providing materials that would help support our dealers to pull customers to their businesses, which helped us to help them."
"We buddied the sales teams with customer services so they now work together to proactively seek growth opportunities for ourselves and our customers"
Jim and his team also started attending Arrivista's SalesENRICHED training course, "We have all learnt a great deal about focusing our efforts profitably, sales negotiation and objection handling techniques, understanding Solution Selling and more. Importantly it helped team morale hugely."
Jim was also encouraged to put an incentive programme in place for both sales and customer service which helped bring the two teams closer together. Jim said "we buddied the sales teams with customer services so they now work together to proactively seek growth opportunities for ourselves and our customers."
This first period of working together was aimed at stabilising what Sunrise Medical had and increasing efficiency through effective systems and process. The results were clear. After year on year decreases in profit, the first year of working together saw an increase in profits of 70% with a 25% increase in year 2. Jim remarked "It wasn't about top line increases at first, we needed to hit the bottom line, and we did this incredibly successfully which created a fantastic atmosphere of drive and optimism."
"We now have a clear process for recruitment and understanding of roles and responsibilities..."
When Sunrise Medical began to see increased growth, Arrivista coaches Julia and Simon then assisted with the development of the team. Jim commented "We now have a clear process for recruitment and understanding of roles and responsibilities. This means more people have structured input rather than the ad-hoc methods we used in the past, leading to everyone being in the best role to better suit their individual abilities.
In addition, everyone is more empowered to take responsibility through utilising the proven systems and tools from Arrivista to highlight where improvements can be made. This has led to people utilising the principles of coaching and mentoring throughout the business. Arrivista has now coached many executives across the business.
The systems that Julia and Simon have helped to implement have enabled growth in other territories including Scandinavia, Germany and Australia; Jim highlighted this "the duplication of what we did in the UK has led to similar success in other territories. It has helped us to efficiently manage and drive growth across the globe."
"We also strive to help B class clients become A class by really understanding their needs, the segmentation enables us to focus our energies effectively."
The business has continued to grow profitably over recent years, leading it to make a number of successful acquisitions in more recent times. Although these new subsidiaries are all encouraged to retain their own identity and market strength, they all benefit from the consistency and excellence of the systems which Sunrise has now spent many years working with. Today, Arrivista works with many executives across the Sunrise group, either through 1 to 1 or Group Coaching, Workshops and / or Open Training Courses.
Jim believes that the introduction of well-planned systems and processes has been one of the key benefits that Arrivista brings to Sunrise Medical. The other key benefit, as Jim put it is "drive and optimism, Simon & Julia help everyone stay focused and positive in a difficult trading environment. They are both 'glass half full people' and that rubs off on us."
In conclusion, Arrivista has enabled Sunrise Medical to stabilise a declining bottom line and then build a business that has grown significantly in its global market. A business that has stepped ahead of its competition and shown the strength to grow both organically and through acquisition. As Jim, now Vice President of Sunrise, remarked "Arrivista coaching has easily paid for itself many times over and it has been a pleasure to work with Arrivista on taking Sunrise Medical to the next level of growth."