Never mind the oil price – what’s in your pipeline?

Nicola Hartland, Xcel Sales chief executive officer
Nicola Hartland, Xcel Sales chief executive officer

By NICOLA HARTLAND

NEWS headlines have been dominated in recent months by the drop in the global oil price from over $100 a barrel to just under $50 and the impact of the so-called “crisis” on the North Sea energy industry.

Job losses, contractor rate cuts and stalled development plans have prompted strong views and calls to action from industry experts and politicians alike; and generated a media frenzy over the perceived demise of one of the UK’s biggest economic sectors.

While views on the time horizon for North Sea oil may differ, one thing that is clear is that the industry is not going to close down tomorrow. It is not a factory which shuts its doors overnight; the eventual decline in the North Sea will be a sustained process with significant decommissioning activity built in.

But the downturn in the North Sea oil and gas industry has created significant opportunities for smaller, independent energy companies to break through.

As operators and companies across the supply chain look to cut costs and maximise efficiency, in-house oil and gas sales teams are coming under increasing pressure to drive new business opportunities.

Xcel Sales recorded a rise in sales activity in the last quarter of the financial year as companies increase their efforts to secure new business. The company, which has bases in Aberdeen and London, warns that capitalising on the opportunities the tighter market presents is an important factor in determining which organisations will emerge in a stronger position when the upturn comes.

This is a cyclical industry well used to peaks and troughs and for every downturn where large players feel the pinch and look to drive cost efficiencies through their business and the supply chain, it also offers opportunities for smaller, nimbler companies to break through.

New relationships and changing spending patterns are emerging as companies outsource sales activity so maximising the profit-making part of a business is critical. Companies are having to fight for their sales pipeline however.

In a constricted marketplace, demonstrating an ability to think strategically, understand business needs, set sales direction and lead generation tactics against tough competition and ever tightening budgets is critical to ensuring you are well placed to get a slice of the still lucrative North Sea pie.”

Xcel Sales works with high profile clients across the oil and gas, financial and legal sectors, providing innovative, intelligent and profitable ways to help organisations reach and exceed their sales and business objectives.

Relationships will really come to the fore in the months ahead. Companies need to be listening to what their current clients are saying, be aware of the pinchpoints in the sector and re-evaluating their sales delivery to reflect it.

Building a well thought out strategy and plan of execution will result in the positive returns on investment that will allow many small firms to grow during the downturn.”

Nicola Hartland is Chief Executive Officer of Xcel Sales.

She has been shortlisted as a finalist in the Business Magazine 2015 Women in Business Awards in the SME Woman of the Year category. She set up Xcel Sales three years ago and  in the past 12 months has doubled the size of her company and generated more than £10 million of pipeline opportunities for her clients.

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