SBI recently spoke with Stephen Mohan, Senior Vice President of Republic Services. Republic Services is the leader in the recycling and waste services in the US, and Stephen is responsible for $8 billion in annual revenue. He provided insight, directly from the executive that owns the number, into emerging best practices for very large sales teams in business services. Specifically, he discussed 3 key inputs to building his sales strategy inside his organization.
Sales Organizational Model
We began the conversation with a discussion around the sales org models. How would Stephen describe his model, and why did he chose it? “At Republic Services, we operate within a matrix organizational structure. That is to say that personnel report up directly to local management,” explained Stephen. Their sales team is primarily divided into growth-oriented selling roles including major accounts, account management roles, and key vertical sales teams that address specific offerings.
It’s Stephen’s opinion that running a large complex sales team benefits from a decentralized organization. At Republic, they service and operated in over 240 markets, yet to every one of those markets they feel like the local guys to their customers. It also builds the collaboration needed for the sales organization to be successful.
Integrating with Operations
The conversation next turned to the operations side. In business services, it is all about ops. “It’s critically important to have a tight link with our operations team,” said Stephen. It helps them in their goal of being a customer-centric company that is easy to do business with.
There are two ways they accomplish this. First, their divisional sales management team reports directly to general management. This allows for constant links with the operations teams. Secondly, they have linked their CRM tool with sales, their customer experience team, and their operations supervision team. This gives them all a clear line of sight into what needs to happen to satisfy their customers. It’s all about constant communication and visibility to all parties at Republic Services.
In the business services industry, most revenue is recurring. This means keeping churn low, and being excellent at both cross-selling and upselling is mission critical.
So, who owns the churn number and approach at Republic Services? For Stephen’s team, it’s the sales organization, specifically the account management team. They have a portfolio-based approach. Each account manager has a portfolio of clients. It’s their job to protect and grow that portfolio while also delivering exceptional support to their customers.
Next, Stephen addressed the cross-sell number and approach. “Here we partner very closely with our marketing and product team.” The functions must be in strategic alignment in order for this to work. Additionally, they look at the cross-sell number as a leading indicator of overall customer satisfaction and retention. There is a correlation between the number of products their customers purchase and how long they stay.
He also addressed upsell, which is the responsibility of the sales team. They look at it as “right sizing.” It’s about making sure each customer has the perfect solution to meet their needs. In their industry, it can be tricky because change comes quickly. To combat this, their sales team takes a proactive approach. They use a waste assessment that tracks all their waste stream needs, and how it changes over time.
Stephen then wrapped up our conversation with 3 tips for sales leaders of large sales forces in the business services industry. First, he recommends finding good people. No process, program or tool will work without good people. Next, understand the different ways to segment customers and develop your go to market strategy. Consider segmenting your customers based on their needs, and training the sales organization accordingly. And finally, rely on data. Results come from detailed processes based on insights you’ve gathered, not just sales cycle management.