• Marko Laakso

How do we sell to generate joy of working?

As the year begins and we are looking into new potential interesting customers I think about what are the makings of an interesting project. Naturally, it’s not only about profit. As people and as a company we’re always looking for ways to learn and grow, and this is how I look at new customer projects too. With good measures, we can evaluate our performance, make retrospective judgements and learn from our past actions. What does this mean for our sales at Valuemotive? Are we talking about sales funnel throughput? The quantity is certainly an important factor but the quality means often more, especially in the long term. We are interested in happy couples of customers and employees thus this bonding forms a good foundation on our key performance metric, Project Brightness.


What makes a good case for us?


In addition to profitable projects, we look for projects where everyone involved enjoys the work. Each project is different but so are we. I believe that one key aspect of the sales is to choose the right people for the right cases and our key performance metric should reflect the quality of these matches.


To ensure growth and a direction we want to move towards as a company, we are considering how well each project fits the scope of our technologies, what is our responsibility and how much control we have. During the past few years, we have been particularly excited about stakeholder analytics, natural language processing and software development in cloud environments. We always work in agile ways and don’t shy away from taking our customers to a learning curve with us. A typical project is a mixture of new opportunities and important components for our value proposition and expertise. It also includes curious things related to the customer domain and certainly some annoyances and restrictions for various reasons. The net balance of all these aspects gives us a fair estimate of how well the company is aligned with the project.


By putting all the previous terms together we have come up with a two-dimensional scoring scheme for our sales performance. This is in direct connection to how happy our team is with their day-to-day work. Below is a display of the scoring system, Project Brightness. The vertical axis of the score represents the quantity in euros and the horizontal axis has been reserved for the quality aspects including the employee experience and the company alignment.


Progression of project scores in time.


Quantity is calculated as a sum of two expectations values (realisation probability times profit), which represent the project itself and the future potential of the customer relationship.


For quality we have two factors we look at:

  1. the company alignment and

  2. employee experiences across the team involved.


We are collecting employees opinions and comments throughout the sales process and use this feedback to estimate how interested they would be in projects. We’re always looking for ways to increase the joy of working and overall positive feelings at work.


Before the project starts, we work on the exact constitution of the team, its skill sets and interests. The availability of the suitable candidates is typically the major limiting factor at this stage but depending on how much in advance this planning takes place there may be room for significant optimisations. We look for collaborations, where there is trust and transparency in future projects. This way we can team up in the best possible way. As we start the project, we gather a second-time point for the KPI (Key Performance Indicator). Now we can compare how our initial assumptions relate to the actual project agreed with the customer.


Progression of project scores in time.


Our learning process would not be complete unless we make constant monitoring and retrospective analysis of the actual outcomes. We revisit our evaluation scheme as the project is over or every six months throughout the work. The aim is to make better predictions by analysing the gap between the initial expectations and experience. We also want to share our perspectives with our customers and make possible adjustments to keep the team motivated and happy. This makes the best results for the project. Often we get to see improvements in our evaluation of the project quality as the work progresses. This happens, when we learn with our customers and make better use of our competencies and find new interesting ways to support the project and customer.

As time goes by and we collect more data, we can see how well we are moving towards the upper-right corner and how the progress varies between the customer segments, technologies, team sizes, and other factors. All the information is kept available for all our employees so that we all know how the sales are performing and we can plan things together. As a data-science company, we are all about data and continuous improvement. We are looking into sharing the information with our customers too to get them in on developing together.