Tag Archives: brilliant career

Sharper Buyers, Sharper Sellers

Buyer diceI was chatting to a senior procurement manager recently. When he asked me what I did for a living and I said that I helped business owners and sales managers sort out their sales challenges, he laughed and said that he hoped that my work didn’t include ‘hard-sell’ sales training. Intrigued, I asked him to elaborate.

He said that he can sum up a salesperson from the minute they walk into his office. Some take ”the look to see what I can make small talk about” approach whilst others immediately whip out their laptops and presentation folders to start their “show and tell”.  He said if he picked up that they hadn’t done their research ahead of the meeting, he’d politely end the meeting within 10 minutes.

I smiled wryly because it just reinforced my thinking that many procurement folks have wised up to the ‘same old, same old’ style of selling. If you’ve been reading the SalesBrief for a while, you might recall that I’ve mentioned a training course for procurement people that specifically addresses how to outsell and negotiate with the average salesperson. That was 8 years ago. Imagine how many more South African buyers have attended that programme since.

So ditch the 15 alternative closes, drop the contrived approach and just be authentic. Sure, you have to ask for the order at the right time. Sure, there is a sales process that should be followed but not in such a way that you look and sound like a Sales 101 robot. Nowadays, the chances of getting five yeses in a row as a way to close a deal are getting slimmer and slimmer. Why? Because the person on the other side of the desk could be well aware that this is a staged and/or manipulative sales approach. As a result, you could personally be viewed in a negative light.

In 2015, selling is about the customer, their needs, their challenges and the way they buy. That’s the part of the ‘sales approach’ that needs your focus.

Integrity, authenticity and collaboration rules. Buyers are sharp.

The Role of Trust in Sales

As Sales Managers, we are entrusted with a team of individuals who have faith in use and depend on us to lead, manage and guide them to success in their sales careers. People mostly rise to the expectations we have of them. In what ways do you instil confidence, trust and belief in your team to deliver results.

And by the same token, as salespeople, what ways do we instil confidence, trust and belief in our sales manager that we will deliver results?

4 Questions Sales Achievers Must Ask When Interviewed

Naturally you’ve done your homework before your interview and you have a bunch of questions ready about the products or service you’ll be required to sell. But don’t forget to ask the following four questions too – it shows you are serious about your sales career. Remember – when you are a seriously talented sales professional (that includes sales managers too), you’re interviewing your next employer at the same time they’re interviewing you. No need for any arrogance of course, but do look after your interests.

Question #1 How many of your reps regularly make their target?
Ask this one because you want to get an idea of how successful others are in the team – the answer could lead to further questions regarding sales targets and team benchmarks in general.

Question #2 What support structure is in place for me?
The answer will tell you whether you will have someone assisting you with sales admin, lead-generation and other general sales tasks that take you away from being out there in front of customers, as well as if there is a company driver available to collect cheques and make deliveries – these are all activities that will prevent you from doing your “real” job.

Question #3 Will the sales manager be conducting in-field sales coaching?
Of course you’ll want to meet your manager and if possible get an idea of his or her management style too from others on the team – you need to suss out the overall sales culture. Sales coaching is essential, even for top achievers – the level of coaching will be far higher than that for a junior rep but is coaching nonetheless.

Question #4 What sales onboarding process is in place?
Given that lack of a quality sales onboarding process is one of the main reasons salespeople leave within the first 6 months, it’s worth asking just how much help you’ll be getting to ramp up in the shortest possible time. If you’re expected to hit your target within the third month it’s a bit of a big ask if your manager only confirms your customer base the month before, or if you still haven’t been able to tie down the technical chaps for that in-depth product training you need.

Then once you get to when it’s looking like there will be an offer on the table,  it’s also a good idea to confirm your understanding of the commission structure as well as to ask for a full copy of the standard contract of employment to review BEFORE accepting the offer. I can’t tell you the number of folks I’ve spoken to that only find out about these vital issues after they’ve resigned from their current position or have already started their new job. Realising at the end of your first month that the commission structure is not what you “thought” it was, is a bit too late.

It’s your sales career move – make sure it’s the right one.



Sales Recruitment in South Africa – Insights and Recommendations for Employers and Job-Seekers


With the high rate of unemployment in SA, no doubt you know someone on the move, or a company looking for new sales folks. I thought you might find my perception of the sales employment sector of interest.

Not based on scientific research as such, just my ‘personal take’ on what I’ve seen happening out there and from ongoing feedback received in the sales employment sector over the past 9 years.

Insights – For Employers

1. Good sales managers and salespeople with the right skills are becoming even harder to find but because some companies don’t look after their superstars, there are always good people on the move.

2. Recruitment agencies are more savvy in placing sales folks but handling sales positions is still one of their greatest challenges thus you need to manage the process carefully.

3. There has been a major increase in employers advertising directly because of online tools such as LinkedIn and to save the cost of recruitment agency fees.

4. Poor quality CV’s and overwhelming response rates to adverts are making it harder to filter down to find the right people.

5. There is still very little (if any) proper onboarding assistance provided to new sales employees to help them ramp-up effectively in the first 3 months, especially for new business development.

6. Many sales salaries offered don’t seem to have kept up with inflation over the past 5 years, nor have petrol and cell phone allowances.

Insights – For Sales Folks on the Move

1. PNet and more recently Careers24 as well as LinkedIn are still among the top online portals used by both employers and recruiters.

2. It’s a tight job market but there are always good jobs out there for good sales folks at any one time.

3. 80% of CV’s I receive are poorly presented, are often inaccurate and incomplete – including those of sales managers, key account managers and sales admin folks. Clients and recruiter colleagues tell me the same.

4. There is still no “benchmark” for sales salaries – massive differences as seen from sector to sector and within each sector.

5. I’m seeing very little preparation done ahead of interviews – whether with the recruiter or the employer.

Recommendations For Employers

1. Try recruit directly. Develop skills on how to recruit salespeople and managers effectively – there is loads of info available online.

2. Use PNet, LinkedIn and/or Careers24 – single ads only cost from R595 to R1300 for 30 days.

3. Check out Indeed.co.za too, this is a no-charge job site that also pulls in every job advertised on career portals – there are also some great smaller career portals within industry sectors i.e. BizCommunity for the advertising/media sector.

4. Make sure you’re giving your newbies the support they need in the first 3 months – this still remains one of the main reasons salespeople (especially the really good ones) leave within the first year.

5. Use my LEFT principle (Look Everywhere For Talent).   Recruit/network all year round to ensure you have a few potentials ‘in the wings’ at all times. Waiting until someone leaves and then only starting to look will place unnecessary pressure on the whole team and put sales revenues at risk.

6. Look after the good people you have. They will be snapped up in days because of the sales talent shortage out there.

7. Be efficient and professional when recruiting – not getting back to applicants or taking months to make a decision is unacceptable and just damages your brand through word of mouth.

8. Use personal networks and referrals as your primary source of finding quality sales folks, but don’t take any shortcuts – formal interviews and extensive work history and reference-checking is essential.

9. Be open to employing older sales folks i.e. over 50 – they can be exceptional assets and have a great deal to offer.

10. Be open to having to train juniors who have the right attitude but may lack experience or some selling skills, especially if your salary offering is low.

11. People need to cover their basic running costs. Offering no basic or a very low basic with no car, no petrol or benefits and only the promise of high commission generally doesn’t attract the person you’re looking for

12. If you don’t have a formal sales process in place, if you don’t know the length of your sales cycle, if you’re unprepared for the onboarding of your newbie, then expect your ramp-up period to be much longer. 3 months’ probation is unfair if you’re not giving the newbie the support he or she needs.

13. Don’t exaggerate on what a fantastic sales environment you have or how easy it is to make “massive amounts” of commission in a desperate attempt to attract a sales performer or to fill a sales position quickly. Within the first few months, the newbie will soon suss out the real lay of the land and move on. Not only are you messing with someone’s career, the cost to the company is huge.

Recommendations For Sales Folks on the Move

1. Approach job-seeking like a true sales professional – use your CV to articulate your value. A poorly-presented CV speaks volumes as does a great one.

2. Don’t apply for every job out there, be selective and play to your strengths. If you absolutely hate prospecting from scratch, then don’t apply for that job, you’ll just end up being performance-managed out in the months ahead which could be incredibly stressful.

3. Tap into your personal network and reach out to managers at companies you’d like to work for. Nurture those relationships.

4. Keep a ‘career file’ from the day you started your first sales job and keep your CV and supporting documents up to date.

5. Google yourself – if we can’t find you or you haven’t got a decent online presence, it tells us you’re not on top of your networking and prospecting skills.

6.  Lying or being anything less than 100% honest on your CV will come back to bite you at some point – every detail is checked these days. It’s a small market and people talk – don’t damage your brand.

7. Do your research on your prospective new employer thoroughly, including the management style of the person you’ll be reporting to; make sure that the grass IS greener.

Article from The Weekly SalesBrief For SA Sales Professionals – subscribe here

Remember To Dump Your 2012 Sales Baggage

There’s no use in holding onto old sales baggage. Whilst it’s best to do a mental sales “detox” on a daily basis, sometimes we forget and before we know it, we’re carrying a whole load of sales junk that weighs us down mentally. It’s a sure way to dampen our spirit and enthusiasm for this brilliant career path we’re on. Selling is as fun, exciting, interesting and rewarding as we make it.

So forget the orders that didn’t happen, the delivery frustrations, the missing documents, the duff up with the commission calculations and all those little things that can side-track us from doing what we love – being in front of prospects and clients, trying to help them to offer a better service or product to their customers.

Start 2013 off on a clean sales slate. Dump last year’s B2B sales trash and take only the lessons learned and the very best memories into the New Year.

Here’s to Your Abundant Sales Success in 2013 – we’re with you all the way.