Overall decrease in customer churn rate
Uplift in Average Order Value (AOV) from new customers
Improvement in sales forecast accuracy
Fastmarkets, part of Euromoney PLC (a FTSE 250 company) is a highly trusted cross-commodity price reporting agency (PRA). They operate across a wide variety of markets, including agriculture, forest products, metals, mining and energy transition. By providing accurate price data, forecasts and market analyses, Fastmarkets gives its customers a strong strategic advantage, even in complex and volatile markets.
Fastmarkets have recently gone through a period of rapid growth, both organically and through acquisition. In addition, the way they supply data has also changed; instead of the traditional subscriptions model, Fastmarkets now licences its data to customers, enabling them to share the provided data across their businesses as they see fit, potentially with thousands of other users.
When James Mansfield was appointed Chief Revenue Officer (CRO), part of his role involved restructuring the entire sales organisation and building out new teams—including sales enablement—to enable sustainable growth across the business. He also quickly recognised the need to help potential customers appreciate how much unrecognised value they were getting from the service and to understand why they were paying more under the new pricing model.
This required a transformational shift in mindset, behaviour and overall calibre of the sales team. To deliver this transformation, James turned to Flow State.
As James and his team worked on the new structure for their sales organisation, they identified constant enablement as a priority. However, that takes time to develop. The solution was to bring in external expertise. “By bringing on Flow State, I didn’t have to wait nine months to build a team,” says James. “I could engage with Aaron and Raff and start to move the needle immediately.”
More than just temporarily plugging a gap, Flow State kickstarted the strategic enablement process and brought it up to speed. They were also responsible for identifying the right Head of Sales Enablement candidate for the role and handing the process over to them. They then continued working alongside them to further accelerate growth.
One of the first deliverables was a series of online workshops, focused on two key areas:
Taking place over several weeks, these online workshops challenged the sales leadership team to take a closer look at both the desired skills of their sales teams and how they objectively qualify opportunities in their pipeline.
They defined what excellence looked like in both these areas and established the performance levels necessary to achieve the highest possible average order value (AOV). As a bonus, the workshops also allowed the newly built teams to share ideas and get to know each other.
Out of the workshops, the participants were able to build out a competency framework covering the different sales roles and a qualification methodology based on MEDDIC (Metrics, Economic buyer, Decision criteria, Decision process, Identify pain and Champion) for prospective customers.
Flow State then trained managers on using those frameworks to hire the best candidates and consistently coach their teams on those skills—something that became even more valuable as the ‘great resignation’ started affecting staff hiring and retention at companies around the world.
James appreciated the Flow State team’s commitment to providing a high-quality service. “Raff was superb, particularly with the workshops and the engagement, while Aaron was phenomenal on the training side. The energy that Aaron brings to a training session is pretty stand out—I don’t know anyone else who can instantly click with a bunch of salespeople and command attention in that way.”
At this stage, Flow State began working alongside other teams in the company, including the commercial finance, marketing and sales operations teams, to ensure that the work done by sales was reflected in their forecasting and commercial finance processes. This helped other stakeholders understand why these changes were being made and how they benefited their part of the business.
Throughout this process, one of the things that stood out to James was Flow State’s desire to understand Fastmarkets and its strategy. “They didn’t jump straight into the deliverables; they wanted to understand how Fastmarkets plans to grow. They spent hours on the phone with me, going through our onboarding, getting an understanding of our strategy, then working together to identify the low-hanging fruit where they could help move the needle in the short term.”
James has always aspired to create a coaching culture within Fastmarkets. Rather than simply measuring performance in terms of percent against target, James firmly believes that a person’s behaviour, the way they act and do business, is just as important as their sales figures.
Now, with their newly-implemented competency framework, Fastmarkets has clearly defined criteria for what good looks like, from key sales skills and values to the way a person collaborates and behaves. This allows them to hold people accountable across the organisation and define the quality of staff that they hire.
“We’ve said no to hiring more people than ever, which I see as a huge positive,” says James. “The standard of who comes into this organisation has gone up tenfold. The biggest result from working with Flow State is understanding the competencies that make someone successful in Fastmarkets and then seeing our management team start to deliver against that consistently.”
In turn, this has had a positive impact on the business’s sales metrics and KPIs. Since Fastmarkets started working with Flow State, they have seen improvements in several key revenue performance areas including Average Order Value (AOV) from new customers saw an uplift of 24%, while cross-sell revenue increased by 147%. James anticipated that there would be a corresponding increase in churn rate as the order value increased, but it turned out to be the opposite. Churn almost halved, dropping from 11% to 6.4% — a proportional decrease of over 47%.
As an added bonus, the training also improved the reliability of the sales pipeline and the ability to predict future sales, with forecast accuracy increasing by 14%.
James describes Flow State as sales enablement experts, going far beyond sales training to serve as strategic partners. Given the scale of the restructure, details of which weren’t public at the time, a lot of James’s and the senior team’s work was relatively siloed, and that additional expertise on hand was a big help. “Having a few extra experienced partners to contribute to that was hugely valuable.”
One major selling point for James was being able to continue using the training material and other content after the initial engagement. “We’ve had sales trainers before who come in and deliver a program, but then say that unless you have a licence for this content, you can’t carry on using it. With Flow State, they’re not holding us hostage for the content that we produced together. They were willing to get to know us and then release that IP back to us for our use. Now it’s part of our onboarding plan.”
James also appreciated how Flow State was prepared to push back if they disagreed with any part of the proposed strategy. For example, rather than risk overwhelming sales teams with too many changes all at once, Flow State encouraged a more measured approach. Instead of implementing thousands of changes, they focused on three to five key changes that would have the biggest impact on results.
“They were a genuine thought partner, as opposed to just accepting what I said and doing it,” explains James. “They challenged me on some of my ideas, and maybe some people wouldn’t like that, but that was really helpful for me and I value that massively.”
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