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Evaluation of the Commercial Breakthrough Service


The Commercial Breakthrough Service aimed to address observed weakness in sales and marketing skills amongst technology-based firms and specialist service companies in Scotland. It was aimed at firms whose staff were recognised as having strong technical competencies but were lacking in their understanding and their ability to market and sell their products. It involved two stages: a ‘Diagnostic’ stage that identified the issues to be addressed; and an Action Plan to identify how the firm could address these issues. The firm was helped to embed robust processes to grow sales through the input of consultants during the Action Planning stage.


The evaluation methodology involved consultations with Scottish Enterprise and delivery agents, and a survey of 12 of the participating firms.


The evaluation found that the £320,000 spent by Scottish Enterprise directly on firms generated a total of £238,000 of net GVA to date and that firms indicated a further £1.8 million could be generated in future. The return to SE is therefore calculated at 5.6:1 which compares well with SE Enabling Technology Project impacts. Feedback from firms suggested that CBS helped them: to recognise that they did not have the skills necessary to sell their product effectively; to recognise that they did not have a structured/strategic view of how to approach the selling process; to gain the confidence to embrace selling; to recognise that their sales projections were overly ambitious where appropriate; and to gain an insight into how to identify and target likely buyers. Firms identified three success factors: the strong sales competencies of the consultants; the commercial expertise of the consultants; and the consultants’ ability to provide informed challenge and objectivity.


The report suggests that there is likely to be merit in reviewing the targeting of the Service at firms that exhibit growth and who also have the resources available to implement their Action Plans.

Author O'Herlihy and Co Ltd
Published Year 2012
Report Type Evaluation
  • Enterprise
    Sector-level support, Support to existing/growth businesses
  • Innovation