Tag Archives: sales innovation

Set Your Salespeople Free … To SELL

What’s your current sales team set-up based on?

Is it …

# 1 : Each sales rep being essentially self-sufficient i.e. get their clients, keep the clients and do all that needs to be done, including process the order and collect the payment?

Or is it …

# 2: Configuring your sales “production” process much like you would in manufacturing/factory environment?

I favour the latter. For years, I’ve been calling for companies to start isolating sales tasks and activities and to set up individuals to manage this for the external sales team. Specifically when it comes to sales research (aka qualifying new prospects and opportunities). By doing this, you will free up your external sales team to do what they were employed to do – be out there, all day, every day seeing quality new prospects and making meaningful appointments.

Ten years ago, I thought we would be seeing job ads posted on LinkedIn and on career portals for specialist “Sales Researchers”within a few years. People whose job it is to literally tee-up potential opportunities from prospects as well as existing clients. People whose job it is to stay on top of all new developments in market verticals. People whose job it is to provide insights to the external sales team who in turn use the information to provide even more value to customers.

But this has not happened. We are nearly all still stuck with outdated sales thinking which requires a salesperson to manage the entire sales process on their own – even dragging them into pre-sales social media marketing and post-sales customer care responsibilities too .

Justin Roff-Marsh, based in Australia is the guru behind re-engineering the sales process. I highly recommend that you take a look at his work. This ‘division-of-labour’ principle is working wonders for many companies around the world. Sales have soared and costs have plunged.

In simple terms, the system is based on separating the admin of sales from the face-to-face of sales. And then going further by employing internally-based specialists for every phase of the sales process.

When you release your sales executives from having to do all of their own pre- and post sales admin and shift most of the account management/customer service activities to a slick in-house support team, your sales will increase.

Sales Meetings: Going, going, gone … virtual

The worldwide trend is for sales teams to meet online … “virtually”.

In layman’s terms:  a virtual meeting is when everyone logs in to a telephonic conference call from where ever they happen to be located. The manager then runs it like a face to face meeting, with a tight agenda of course.

The more sophisticated virtual options extend to sitting in front of webcams on connected speakerphones and logging on to a common software portal via laptops. Each person can hear and see each other and is also able to view a presentation, or look at “live” visuals of their sales pipeline. With virtual meetings when everyone is viewing the same things online, you can easily add a humourous movie clip, a stunning graphic, a useful skills or product training insert and carefully-chosen motivational quote to end off on.

By now you’ll have guessed that quality content for virtual meetings need to be prepared in advance. Nothing says “I’m a professional team leader” quite like a fantastic sales meeting. Taking the time and putting in the effort to raise your sales team’s level of motivation, recognise their achievements, add a sprinkle of humour and teach them something new will pay huge dividends in terms of sales results.  Always end off each meeting on a motivational high, no matter how stressful some discussion points may have been.

Virtual meetings certainly have their advantages over traditional face-to-face meetings. Especially in a sales environment where it’s difficult to round everyone up because of remote/regional locations. Going virtual is also useful in a local office where the new business development team is always on the road, doing what you’re paying them to do i.e. staying out in the field every day, making sales.

Virtual or face to face, in the boardroom, at a local coffee shop or from everyone’s remote location – it’s your choice, however please don’t undervalue the importance of hosting regular and effective sales meetings with your team. It’s absolutely essential. Not bringing the team together regularly and closing the feedback loop from the team and their clients is a management failure in itself. The benefits of hosting well-planned and frequent sales meetings far outweigh both the perceived and the real costs.

Is it time for you to investigate going virtual? Well, if you’re pressed for time or really struggling to get everyone together, you might want to invest in simple tools such as Skype and webcams and/or something like “GoToMeeting”, or “Webex”  or similar meeting technology.   The virtual meeting platform is also perfect for one-on-one coaching and pipeline reviews – it affords the manager the opportunity to really investigate each deal in the pipeline and coach the rep on how to move it forward.

In summary:  Your sales meeting – whether face to face or virtual, is your platform of sales management excellence. Excellent leader, excellent sales meetings. Mediocre manager, mediocre sales meetings.

Organise Yourself For Future Success

In your sales career you need to decide what you want to achieve, whether it be: peer or professional recognition, outstanding results, a business breakthrough, being a person of integrity or being a truly successful person who balances home and business life. Or a combination of the above.

 Having crystallised your thinking on the worthwhile goals you want to achieve, it is wise to capitalise on your sales strengths, talents and skills which distinguish you from peers and competitors. 

Take charge of future success by aligning yourself with like-minded achievers who have an unstoppable attitude and positive expectancy to win. Develop a blueprint and written plan of action in which your long-term goals are broken down into practical, measureable activities.

 By planning your progress step-by-step, day-by-day, week-by-week, a productive,  results-orientated routine emerges. Diligently allocate and diarise regular time slots. Set deadlines and organise activities systematically. 

Disciplined, self-confident action and focus will ensure success. Above all, with dogged determination, follow through on your dream!

Should Sales Managers Sell?

If there’s one raging debate in the sales world, it’s whether or not a Sales Manager, i.e. someone who has a team reporting directly to him or her – should also be responsible for having to meet a personal sales target.

I recently asked a few of my friends and colleagues in sales to share their view on the subject in around 100 words or so.  Please take a few minutes to read the varying comments of “yay and nay” and then tell us who you agree with the most.


 Should sales managers sell? It depends!

In general, part time sales managers, like part time salespeople don’t usually work out well in the end. You either manage or you sell.

Sales’ managing is a full time job. When you split the job into two parts, sales and sales management, the incumbent is likely to favour one function over the other. This results in one of three things happening:

1)  Good sales manager and poor salesperson
2)  Poor sales manager and good salesperson
3)  Mediocre sales manager and mediocre salesperson.

There is an exception to the rule and this depends upon the size of the sales team.

If the sales team has 10 or more salespeople, a dedicated sales manager is in order.

If the sales team has 5-9 salespeople, a part time sales manager should be considered, keeping in mind that one of the three conditions outlined above will apply.

If the sales team has less than 5 salespeople, there is no designated, formal, sales manager. This does not mean that they don’t need to be sales managed; it means that there is no dedicated sales manager. In small sales teams, the best sales management is self-management.

I hope these insights help.

 Brian Jeffrey


My experience since joining my present company in Lagos was that my National Marketing Manager (19 years with the company) had been allowed to sell cars and keep the commission. I recently persuaded my MD to allow me to change the commission structures to even the playing fields and she resigned.

What was happening , she had built up a substantial client base over 19 years and would not allow any of the sales people to get near her customers and as a result she would out sell them 20 to 1. Not only was this demoralizing for the sales staff but also dangerous for the company the following aspects;

* She had control of a large percentage of the companies customer base.

* Her time was been taken up selling and not managing. 

* The sales staff were looking for other illegal means of earning more money due to lack of proper supervision.

The structure that I now have in place is that my Manager does not actively sell and any sales that do come in as a result of him / her is a “dealer sale”. The manager earns a percentage of the overall sales departments controllable net profit. The sales people were on a fixed Naira amount per vehicle, they are now on a two tier sliding scale , volume and net profit.

Stephen Gladwin
General Manager
Mandilas Toyota
Lagos Nigeria


 This is probably a hot potato only in our own minds. Usually the sales manager get to this position because he is a great sales person. He is usually your best sales person bringing in the most revenue. He is usually put in the position because we hope that he will transfer his skills in a practical way to his sales team.

We need the sales manager to lead by example and the only lasting way is ‘do as I do’. It all depends on the size of the business, the small & medium size businesses cannot afford for the most effective sales person (usually the sales manager) not to be generating their own revenue. I firmly believe that the sales manager should have their own personal sales target.

Stephen Varty
Managing Director
Life and Analytical Sciences (PTY) Ltd.


 A sales manager is someone who increases sales by making their people stronger. In essence the sales manager is coach, trainer and mentor. They may still sell but it should be in a modeling – coaching role. When the sales manager is also salesperson, reps question the manager’s motives and it totally undermines the manager. You can’t name one sport where the coach is also player. In my opinion the only time for the sales manager to also be sales person is as a transition strategy while building the sales team. That means 1 year max in a dual function!

Andy Miller
Sales Consultant and Strategist


I have been on both sides of this argument.  A sales team needs guidance, encouragement, a sounding board and commercial guidance.  A Sales Manager should drive the overall sales strategy. Also a brilliant sales person does not necessarily make a good manager – and I have seen the downfall of sales teams when the mistake of promoting a successful sales person to manager, has been made.

I strongly believe there is a conflict of interest when a Sales Manager also has their own personal targets. The personal target is going to dominate above the support the sales members needs. And the bigger the sales team, the greater the requirement for support and overall strategy of the sales drive. If, however there is a huge deal that requires the expertise of Management then the Sales Exec can be guided in the process and can complete the leg work required, while the Sales Manager assists with strategy, networking and presentations.

So in short….. No.  Manage a team. Or sell.

–  Ex Sales Manager and Sales Person


 My two cents. Yes and no.

Yes in the case of :
Small sales force
Short Sales Cycle
Simple Product

No in the case of:
Large sales force
Long, complex sales cycles

Mark Annett
Maximizer GM – Gauteng


 My opinion is that a Sales Manager should not have a personal target.  The main focus of a Sales Manager should be to lead, inspire, motivate and empower his/her sales team, consistently driving sales through facilitating, coaching, mentoring and offering new selling ideas to their team. Sales Manager derived sales can distract from the main focus of her/his role and can lead to unnecessary rivalry and tension between the manager and team.

The sales management and sales person’s skills and personal profile make-up are also almost diametrically opposed.

It is not a bad idea for the sales manager to handle a couple of ‘house accounts’ to keep her/his hand in and be able to tap into the market that the clients are operating in.

Charmaine Brough
Branch Manager: Johannesburg
Homemakers Fair

A Sales Metamorphosis

metamorphosis (noun)
“a process in which somebody/something changes into something completely different,  especially over a period of time” 
– The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary

We’re all familiar with the most common example of a metamorphosis in nature – that of a tiny butterfly’s egg becoming a caterpillar and then becoming a butterfly.  What about using the same descriptor to change from a sales newbie or underachiever to top achiever?  Is it possible that by applying a process, giving someone enough time to make the changes and to do the hard work, that they could metamorphose into someone at the top of their sales game?

Of course it’s possible. The deciding factor is the amount of hard work one is prepared to do in order to make the transition. Who knows how hard it is for that little caterpillar to spin that cocoon. Who knows how hard it is for the baby butterfly to crack that cocoon open in order to escape. The one thing we do know is that if the caterpillar was wired to have a choice between doing the hard work or not, it may never experience the freedom of the skies. 

If we want to metamorphose into sales achievers, the choice is ours.  We can choose to do the hard work of figuring out what makes a successful sales achiever in our particular sales environment. We can choose to continually learn and practice the selling skills required. We can choose to continually gather the business knowledge necessary to make the transition. Or we can continue to do absolutely nothing.

Don’t underestimate the power of “First Mover Advantage”

One thing that we’ve done repeatedly as SalesBytes is to lead the way in the development of the SA sales industry even thought we’re a pretty small company.  For instance:

– In 2000 we led the way in hosting massive quarterly sales events for thousands of sales managers and their teams and did so successfuly for another 5 years

– In 2003 we led the way in hosting bi-monthly sales management breakfasts exclusively for sales team leaders

– In 2005 we led the way in bringing Selling Power, one of the world’s best sales management magazines and training resource suppliers to South Africa

– In 2005 we led the way in setting up the first, most comprehensive sales knowledge portal in the country aligned with UPSA’s Compendium of Professional Selling

In 2006 we led the way in helping to establish a local chapter of a global sales non-profit association, The United Professional Sales Association

In 2008 we led the way in hosting the first integrated online sales recruitment and sales knowledge website in South Africa

Yes, we’re proud of our achievements. The point is that we’ll always be remembered for our innovations and that’s  something that you need to work into your sales strategy too.

What do you do differently in your industry? What products or services has your company introduced to the marketplace?  Are you a leader or a follower?

Clients want to know that their suppliers are innovative and ready to adapt or be able to change according to their needs. Doing the ‘same old, same old’ year in and year out will eventually contribute to your sales stagnation – you’ll find it more and more difficult to sell what used to be your once cutting-edge product. 

A case in point:
A company known as the leader in their industrial sector for over 30 years recently approached me to help them find a new Sales and Marketing Director. The directors had finally recognised that it was a lack of innovation – both in their product range as well as their approach to marketing and sales that had for years been chipping away at their sales. Then, with the impact of the recession in 2008 and their inability to creatively sell and market their brand in tough times, their sales had all but ground to a halt. The company was flatlining. Badly. The addition of a new Sales and Marketing Director who could effect an immediate sales turnaround was an attempt to save this once majestic market leader from going out of business. 

Markets change. Clients’ needs change.  Product and service offerings need to be constantly updated. And we as Sales Professionals must be able to adapt at the speed of light.

Going back to SalesBytes: Our strategy is that once we’ve cemented the idea of what can be achieved in the sales industry, we then leave it to other suppliers to copy our concept and then roll it out to their target market making adjustments – some good, some bad  – to our original idea. Then we move on to the next thing we feel the market needs. Naturally, this strategy won’t work for large organisations who need to stay put in one specific line of business. However they do need to keep on reinventing their brand. (Just think how many times Omo washing powder been marketed as ‘new and improved’.)

The SalesBytes “innovate here, innovate there” approach keeps us passionate about serving the sales community. It keeps us at the forefront. It sells.