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Sales Strategy & Management

How Smart Managers Drive Profits

Managers can have a massive influence on your bottom line, so how do you ensure that you appoint the right lieutenants?

Neale Roberts




The mark of true entrepreneurial success is an owner who is free to work on their business instead of in their business. Yet for many, this is a goal that constantly shimmers on the horizon.

Every business reaches a point where the up-skilling and development of employees becomes crucial to business growth; a point where an effective management structure must be put in place.

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In 2000, Daniel Goleman conducted a landmark study for the Harvard Business Review entitled Leadership That Gets Results.

He discovered that a manager’s leadership style can be responsible for as much as 30% of an organisation’s bottom line profitability.

I believe that a careful selection of candidates, coupled with the correct guidance and nurturing, can translate into an effective management team.

By remaining hands-on during the training and coaching process, it is possible to build a team that will not only strengthen your industry footprint, but will do so with your attention to detail.

Effective management


Most entrepreneurs go through a stage where they wish for a cloning device. Some never grow out of it. But it’s the process of natural selection within the business world that sees others grow stronger and larger.

The common denominator in businesses that survive and are successfully competitive, is an effective management structure, which to the savvy entrepreneur far outstrips cloning!

An effective management team can be coached to adopt your strengths as a leader, and should be made up of carefully selected individuals who counteract your weaknesses.

Selecting the right people to lead is key. The best sales or admin person may not necessarily be the best manager.

Build the team around people who not only have the ability to be strong managers, but want to manage and lead.

These are individuals who are prepared to accept responsibility for their team’s work as well as their own. Strength must lie in time management and focus.

These individuals should be decisive in their handling of daily operating decisions, while not being afraid to make an unpopular decision should it mean the best for the business in the long run.

This being said, there must be a balance. Managers should be able to overcome obstacles without delegating things upwards, but also know the edge of their competencies, and not be too proud to ask for advice. 

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How to build your team

In my experience, there are three key practices you need when building a management team.

Initially, you as the entrepreneur must clearly communicate each manager’s role and duties, as well as the standard at which you expect these duties to be completed. Thereafter, this should be regularly re-visited to ensure your vision and high standards become the norm.

Next, delegate the responsibilities and duties by following a development plan for the learner manager or management team.

This is an important part of the plan – it takes time, but pays off handsomely in the medium term. Often in the absence of a management development plan entrepreneurs revert to doing it themselves when managers or teams make an error. Do not fall into this trap.

Schedule regular, positively-framed feedback meetings for the team and individual managers to address how well they have done, how to improve and ways in which managers could inspire, motivate and build their team members.

As the owner of the company, it is important not to assume that a new manager will immediately be as effective as you were. Set a realistic time frame for them to develop into their role, remembering that you took time.

Guide each new leader manager, set aside time to nurture the culture of your company. Manage problems by establishing the best way forward and recapping what went wrong, keeping emotional content to a minimum.

Be factual and calm when addressing problems. Though management must be held accountable, remember you are in a process of building people, and people respond to objective, kind and accurate feedback.

Creating resilience

A strong management structure is not only healthy for a business, but it also allows the entrepreneur to work on the long-term strategic issues of the business, while making succession planning easier with accountable, responsible and effective people already in place.

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With an effective management team in place, if the owner wants to take time off or even sell the business or retire, they can be confident in a team of well-rounded leaders who know what they are doing.

The mark of a good manager

Good managers will display the following traits:

  • Aren’t necessarily great at sales or admin, but want to manage and lead
  • Are prepared to accept responsibility for their team’s work and their own
  • Are decisive in their handling of daily operations, and aren’t afraid to make unpopular decision
  • Are focused and manage time well
  • Should know their competencies and not be afraid to ask for help.

Neale Roberts, a founding member of Mentors, has impressive executive, entrepeneurial and consulting experience. He is a qualified assessor and moderator who has taught strategy and leadership at various international business schools and on leading executive MBA programmes. Neale also acted as CEO of the team (Bond University) that won the coveted 2nd place spot in the 1998 NasDaq SDSU 'International Student Business Plan Competition', beating both the Harvard and Stanford teams. This expertise, coupled with many years of business experience, enables Neale to successfully facilitate the development and implementation of practical business strategies that work.


Sales Strategy & Management

What Really Drives Sales Growth And Repeat Business?

Hint: It’s neither your prospects’ ability to buy nor how great your product or service is.




Have you ever analysed what really drives sales in your business? Most people tie their answer to marketing or new leads. Those can be drivers but not the main driver for small businesses.

What causes one person to shop with you for years, driving out of their way to get to you, while the guy across the street won’t set foot in your door? Typically, when I ask this question, I get feedback about how great the product and service is. When I ask why the guy across the street won’t use you, I typically get some explanation of a lack of need or ability to buy.

Those answers can all be true, but that doesn’t make any of them correct.

I have spent the last seven years studying these questions and searching for both the truth and the correct answer. Surprisingly, the right answer is far easier to understand than I thought it would be. Instead of you having to become an expert on the subject, I’ll save you years and tell you what I found.

The truth and the correct answer

If you want to drive sales growth and repeat business, it boils down to understanding and then implementing one strategy: Content builds relationships, relationships build trust, and trust equals sales. Think about that statement for a minute. It is true in your personal and business life right now.

Related: Sales Leadership: The New Frontier

Content builds relationships

Since the dawn of man, how did we build relationships? We create content. If I found myself to be single tomorrow and on a date, I would work to build a relationship with the person I was dating by talking to them – that is, by creating content.

In B2B sales for many years, people created content by having all the knowledge and telling sales prospects about the great features and benefits of new, amazing machines. Today, we create content for our websites and e-books, as well as for downloads or videos to post on YouTube.

Why do we do all of this? Simply put, content builds relationships. And if your customer is looking to purchase anything of significant value from you, you will first need a relationship to make that happen. Once we have a relationship, what happens?

Relationships build trust

shaking-handsMost people don’t fully trust someone they just met, regardless whether it is a business relationship or a personal one. Human nature is to give a little bit of trust and to see if someone is worth giving more trust to. In other words, make them earn it. This is why delivering, at a minimum, what you said you would is so vitally important.

This is where good customer service, the person who answers the phone or sits at the front desk, can make or break a new relationship. As the relationship continues, more and more trust is given; and if the experience remains positive, the amount of trust you get grows still more. As the trust in you grows, then what happens?

Trust equals sales

The more a person trusts you, the more they will buy from you.

One bit of good news with all the competition that is popping up is that it is super easy to stand out, because there are so many poorly run companies and untrustworthy people in the world. All you have to do is do what you say you’re going to do when you say you’re going to do it. Also, treat people the way you’d want to be treated. Since so few will do that, it is not that hard to stand out from the pack.

Related: 3 Strategies For Closing Sales Without Picking Up The Phone

Once a person has a relationship with someone, and they always get what they expect, changing from that person or business is not easy or even desirable. Because you gave good content, you created a relationship. Through that relationship you worked hard and developed trust and now, that trust you earned turns out money through, year after year. When you have 500; 1,000; 2,000; or 5,000 of those trusting relationships, they become assets of your amazing business.

If you’ve read me before, you may have heard me say that you should use a newsletter to build a fence around your customers. They will stay longer and spend more. Well, this is what I’m talking about. Had I been more sophisticated in my understanding of how all of this works seven years ago, I would have switched out the word “newsletters” for “content.”

I tell people all the time that a newsletter isn’t a magic tool. If anyone is selling you a magic solve-all-your-problems tool, you should run very far away and very fast. A newsletter is simply a vehicle to distribute content that builds relationships. It nurtures those relationships over time. You have to respect the relationship and earn trust by delivering on your product or services. If you don’t, can’t, or won’t do that, you could deliver all the content and send all the newsletters, and it simply wouldn’t matter one bit.

How to implement this in your business

The challenge with any idea is implementation. With most ideas in business, you typically have four choices, and this one is no different.

You can do the following:

  • Do nothing. This is what most people do, which is good news for you, because it is also what most of your competitors are doing. That makes it very easy to stand out.
  • Do it yourself. Content has to be created, and maybe you’re the best person to do that right now in your company.
  • Hire an employee to do this for you. Of course, you could hire and train a content creation person and outsource editing, graphic design, etc.
  • Find a company to help you implement this strategy.

Related: The 5 Best Actions You Can Take To Improve Sales Calls

Regardless of your decision, if you want to truly grow, or if you want to beat the competitor down the street, or if you want to increase the value of your company, it starts with this strategy: Content builds relationships, relationships build trust, and trust equals sales.

This leaves you with one thing to as you finish this article: Look back at the four options and make a choice.

This article was originally posted here on

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Sales Strategy & Management

Get Those Quotas Moving (Upward!) In 2018! 5 Things Your Salespeople Can Do

Fewer than half of salespeople make quota, on average. Here are some best practices for to help them hit their targets in the new year.

John Holland




Whether they had a tremendous 2017 or a difficult one, sellers likely hit the re-set button with the start of this new year. And that button push probably was accompanied by more aggressive quotas for those sellers to achieve in 2018.

So, what should sellers do to gear up for the coming year? As 2018 gets under way, here are five things I can share to help sellers get off to a good start.

1. Avoid stale quotes and proposals

Unlike fine red wine, proposals that have been in the sales pipeline more than 45 days old aren’t getting better. Many of them, in fact, are likely to have “no decision” outcomes.

So, if you’re the seller, what’s going on? There may be instances where your prospects have chosen a competitor and not given you the bad news. My suggestion is to send a snail mail letter, “return receipt requested,” to the highest level you’ve called on within the account. State in the letter how long the proposal has been outstanding, noting that you haven’t been updated on its status and that you intend to withdraw if you don’t hear anything back.

Related: 3 Questions To Guide You To Success In 2018

The hope is that your letter will cause the buyer to contact you and say there is still interest. If that’s the case, you can ask to revisit the opportunity (help facilitate a cost vs. benefit analysis) and see if a revised recommendation can be made.

If your letter doesn’t elicit a response, you can safely remove it from your forecast. While that’s not the desired outcome, you’ll have the benefit of a more realistic view of the size and health of your pipeline.

2. Create add-on opportunities

Sellers often believe that if customers have additional needs, they’ll proactively reach out. Certainly, close rates will be higher when there is an existing relationship vs. when sellers are closing new accounts. That’s why sellers should take a look at each client and try to determine potential business needs that might be addressed through the use of their company’s offerings; they should then proactively contact the key players who might be interested.

The key to initiating add-on opportunities is taking executives from latent to active need for a company’s desired business outcomes.

3. Be realistic with nurtured leads

If the cost of your offerings exceeds $50,000, you may want to take a hard look at the entry level that nurtured leads provide. My view is that many of those leads get sellers in touch with people that are doing product evaluations. So, those people may not be working with budgets and have not identified potential areas of value/payback that can be realised through the use of your offerings.

Ask yourself if the contact you’ve been given is a potential champion who can provide you access to the key players you must call on to sell, fund and implement the offering being considered. If not, I suggest you treat the contact as a coach that may be willing to get you an introduction to a higher level that may then serve as your champion. My thought is to gain access to people who will see value in your offerings.

Related: How South Africa’s Small Businesses Plan To Invest Their Money In 2018

4. Ask for referrals

Satisfied customers can be under-used assets, especially if sellers can help them quantify results.

My preference is that sellers break down benefits and values specific to titles and outcomes that have been achieved using those sellers’ offerings.

Once quantified, sellers can ask if their customers know of any other individuals or companies they could be referred to.

5. Plan a sales cycle ahead

When I was in engineering school, I was a “just-in-time” learner in that I studiously avoided professors who assigned homework and also approached midterm and final exams with some last-minute cramming.

Some sellers follow my academic model – and that’s not smart: In terms of their year quota, many sellers who are not YTD against their numbers believe they can close enough business in the last quarter to make up for their previous gaps. But this is a very stressful strategy, and there will be times when sellers run out of runway.

An alternative I’d suggest is for sellers to break their quota into monthly increments and multiply that number by the months in an average sales cycle. They can then estimate their close rates and set pipeline thresholds they should try to exceed.

Once they’re at the stage of interviewing committee members, sellers can then negotiate their activities and time frames via a written document with buyers (I call this pipeline “E”). Here’s an example of how to project ahead:

  • A seller has a $2.4 million quota ($200,000/month).
  • Her average sales cycle is four months and her close rate is 50 percent.
  • Therefore, her “E” target is to close $800,000 or more every four-month period.
  • At any time, if she is YTD or better, her E target will be $1.6 million in her pipeline.
  • In a given month, any shortfall from YTD must be doubled and added to that $1.6 million; business development efforts must be ramped up.

Being aware of YTD performance to date and projecting the sales cycle that’s ahead on a monthly basis can reduce stress levels during Q4.

And reducing stress is good, right? I hope these tips can help make your 2018 a great, and de-stressed, year.

This article was originally posted here on

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Sales Strategy & Management

(Podcast) Are All Prices Negotiable?

Person, socialisation, product, place – what are the key differentiating factors between those who negotiate price and those who don’t? And who determines the value of a product?

Nicholas Haralambous




What is up for negotiation? When should you be negotiating prices, and when should you be open to negotiating prices with your customers?

Person, socialisation, product, place – what are the key differentiating factors between those who negotiate price and those who don’t? And who determines the value of a product?

Listening time: 8 minutes

Related: (Podcast) Phone Calls Often Solve Email Problems

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