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Sales Strategy & Management

The Last Word on Measurement!

In selling, the old adage you get what you measure still applies.

Steven Viviers




Measures are like goals: they should be specific, time-bounded/relate to a specific period and achievable. “You can’t manage what you don’t measure,” declares an old shopkeeper we know.

Years of working with staff and motivating them to meet or exceed business goals has left an indelible mark. Measures capture the results of our experiments, in science and work, and drive continuous improvement. We are increasingly dependant on numbers for everything.

We measure our health in numbers (blood pressure, body mass and cholesterol) and how much we eat (grams or calories). We compare and contrast things in numbers. What’s your IQ or emotional intelligence? And not surprisingly, we assess company success with numbers – sales, profitability, ROI, P/E Ratio and so on.

How does this relate to sales?

There are various frameworks for determining what your company should measure. Most have merit, but some clear advantages over others that make them worth considering – in terms of their state of development, ease of use, and the direct relationship they have to common business practices. The ‘Balanced Scorecard’, for example, a tool developed over a decade ago to address all areas of a business and make things meaningful for people, has become increasingly popular.

From a sales perspective you should strive to keep things simple. In terms of our own model, examined over the last few months, there are measures for Customers, the Market and / or Products and of course Space.

Early on in this series we suggested that only a few customers go home happy. It’s critical therefore you measure the right things e.g. the number of customers you have (closely equates to the total number of transactions), the value of these transactions i.e. sales per day, week or month compared with similar periods i.e. yesterday, last week or the same time last year.

Analysing your numbers

When you analyse these measures don’t forget to factor in specific quality information like: When was pay-day last month and what events / promotions were running at the time? You want to compare apples with apples.

If your business involves selling goods you should try to measure the average customer spend (ACP) also known as the customer ‘basket’. This calculation is derived as follows:

Sales (divided by)                              = R0.00c (ACP)

Number of transactions (or customers)

It’ll be a lot higher in a supermarket or clothing outlet (over R250 perhaps) or very low in a garage shop (below R18) where purchases are mainly cool drinks and sweets. Measures should always be expressed in ‘hard numbers’, either as R0.00c or %s.

With respect to Products or Promotions you should measure the growth in customers (increases in the number of transactions), customer complaints / compliments relative to specific products (compared to the total number of customers), the sales value of your promotions (distinct from overall sales) and other telling measures like sell-off rates.

Sell-off rate     = Sale of a new or promotion line (daily) x 100       =      %

Original stock value                    1

The higher the sell off rate expressed as a percentage the more successful the new line or promotion.

Measures for Space are a little more complicated especially if you only have a very basic point-of-sale (POS) system. But if you know what product you have in designated areas e.g. hot-spots, gondola front-ends or specific display cases and the sales of those products it’s possible to calculate the takings per metre (TPM) and the takings per head (TPH) (Sales divided by the number of employees), which is a very good productivity measure.

Obviously you don’t want to keep slow sellers in valuable space for long and neither do you want to keep good sellers hidden. TPM helps in identifying not only good sellers versus poor sellers, but also areas of a store that customers shop more frequently. TPH helps in planning staffing requirements.

If TPH falls suddenly you should be looking to cut back on staffing or re-allocate them to better performing areas. Conversely if your TPH rises suddenly you may want to consider taking on more staff so that your overall customer service effort is sustained.

Who gets to create measures?

Whatever the nature of your business it’s critical to involve staff in the identification and measurement of measures. You should identify a mechanism for making them meaningful for staff. In our journey through garage shops, supermarkets and factories we’ve seen all kinds of balanced scorecards, steering wheels, thermometers and other devices hanging from walls in operational and staff areas. Whatever you use be sure to communicate all your measures to staff. Measurement should be a transparent process with no unpleasant surprises!

It’s best if measures are ‘hard’ numbers, but they can also take the form of ‘milestones’. Should you want to measure the progress of one of your processes e.g. visioning or strategic planning you could use milestones instead. At a point (specific day, week or month) we will have communicated our business vision to everyone or all business units will have completed their strategic planning process. Make sense?

Finally, make sure you constantly refer to your measures, ‘walking the floor’ and ‘walking the talk’ making small improvements and adjustments as suggested by them.

Measures are critical, but they won’t have much impact unless they’re cascaded all the way down to front-line employees. The case for cascading is straightforward: Do you want 10% of your employees working toward business objectives or 100%?

Happy trading!

Steven B. Viviers is a partner of Customer1st, a change management consultancy operating in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban. He has worked in retail most of his life with British Petroleum, Chesebrough-Ponds Co., Edgars Stores and Woolworths Ltd. He has consulted to various governmental and business organisations in South Africa, Namibia & Zimbabwe on the subject of Service Improvement. You can contact him at


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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Sales Strategy & Management

Sales Leadership: The New Frontier

The Leadership skill of Influencing people increasingly trumps “hard selling techniques” as people enjoy the feeling that they are forced into buying a certain product less and less.

Dirk Coetsee




“Once upon a time only certain people were in sales. Every day, these folks sold stuff, the rest of us did stuff, and everyone was happy. One day, the world began to change. More of us started working for ourselves- and because we were entrepreneurs, suddenly we became salespeople, too. At the same time, large operations discovered that segmenting job functions did not work very well during volatile business conditions-and because of that, they began demanding elastic skills that stretched across boundaries and included a sales component.” – Daniel Pink

The transformation of sales persons to Sales Leaders is not only the essence of this article but increasingly becoming a necessity, considering the skills demand required to convince people to buy your product or service within an modern environment wherein the consumer is spoilt for choice.

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

In general staples in the make up of old school sales training was and in some cases still is: Product knowledge, fielding sales calls in a friendly way yet creating urgency, learning the ability to overcome client objections and of course do not forget the all-important methods of upselling.

All those elements of selling are still important in general yet “soft skills” such as active listening, handling conflict, and above all removing the emphasis from selling a product or service to selling an enhanced lifestyle or life experience has become the new frontier for the sales game.

The Leadership skill of Influencing people increasingly trumps “hard selling techniques” as people enjoy the feeling that they are forced into buying a certain product less and less. The “parrot method” of drilling sales scripts into the salesforce of the company is slowly but surely becoming obsolete as people want to feel that they are being cared about and considered within the sales process as individuals. “Caring for the other person is the only leverage in any conversation”, Gary Vaynerchuk says.

The above theory calls for a balance between Sales Leaders whom inspires their sales teams to create a personal, professional, and vibrant environment for their customers wherein which they are highly motivated to buy, and Sales managers whom monitor the key sales metrics and checks that sales procedures are being followed. In the modern world both Sales Leadership and management are needed at each end of the balancing scale.

Still, to this day an unfortunate large proportion of sales people are like lambs put to the slaughter, within some situations, as the only weapon taught to them is product knowledge and wearing a smile and then suddenly a very unhappy customer unleashes their anger upon them, and now the poor sales person has no knowledge in terms of how to deal with conflict, generally speaking. How to cope with and overcome conflict and other negotiation skills has become paramount in sustaining very good client relations.

Ethical Leadership is also strongly put forward as a necessary component of any sales training or course through this article. Sales techniques filtered through the companies Vision, mission statement and value system to test its validity and alignment to the companies’ culture can be increasingly effective as opposed to simply applying generic methods of selling which is not always aligned to the company ethos. A high level of ethics amongst Sales Leaders can ensure that after sales promises are kept and that the product sold is in effect as good as propagated by the sales person.

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

When a servant leadership culture is prevalent within your company it goes a long way to ensure that your sales people create a caring and positive experience complimented by an enhanced after sales service. Servant Leadership within a sales context is to put the customers’ and teams’ purpose above the individual team members purpose and that by itself is a potential multiplier of sales performance.

A highly important factor within the context of sales performance is the sales Leaders’ ability to formulate the right questions to be asked of the client in order to create a very pleasant experience. Statements in general can be quite dangerous as it is normally viewed as final and very hard to take back once communicated. Questions on the other hand requires an answer and when posed in a caring way can quickly establish rapport with a client.

Subtle nuances picked up by the Sales Leader through asking the right questions can greatly assist in creating positive client engagement. A practical example would be to refrain from the very obvious question of:  how are you? People are so used to being asked this question that they are not likely to give you a very open and honest answer and will be likely to provide you with very generic answers such as, “Fine thank you, “Well thanks and you”, and so forth.

By very simply changing the question to: “How are you feeling today? “, the very perceptive Sales Leader can relatively easily pick up on the client’s emotional state and adjust the conversation from there in order to create rapport.

In Summary, this writing actually asks one question to all CEOs’ and/or boards that must take their companies forward towards a desired future state: Do you want sales people and managers whom are likely to maintain the status quo, or do you seek Sales Leaders whom will challenge the status quo and will always be willing to ask more of themselves in terms of increased skill levels and performance?

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Sales Strategy & Management

You Have Less Than 7 Weeks Left To Turn Your 2017 Around

Implement these 5 steps and achieve 2017 revenue targets and set up a great start to 2018.

Charles Hsuan




It’s no secret that 2017 has been tough for the majority, with less than 7 weeks to go before business winds up for the year. I’ve summarised an effective sales plan that will help you accelerate your way to success before the year ends.

Referred to as the “championship rounds” in boxing, the last few meters of a 100M sprint, be smart with the last bit of mental energy you have left and sell, sell, sell.

Implement these 5 steps and achieve 2017 revenue targets and set up a great start to 2018.

1Be Laser Focused on Your Customers

You’ll never be one size fits all to everyone, review your client base and define 3 to 5 groups of customers that your business serves, and solves problems for.

Grouping Map

  • Customers that behave similarly, have similar problems and face similar circumstances.
  • Define the groups by age, volume, category, geographic location, and similar demographics. The more components you assign to each group, the better you understand them, and effectively communicate your services to them, ultimately solving their pain points.
  • Personalise with a name it e.g. Sarah is a 30-year-old white collar worker that lives in the urban area, earns R30 000 a month in household income, she sends money back home each month “Black Tax” to support family members that lives in a rural area.

Related: Have We Lost Our Face-To-Face Sales Ability?

2What Goes Through Their Minds Before Making a Purchase?

  • Whether it’s subconscious or psychological, people buy solutions to problems, especially in a tight economy.
  • In order to stay relevant to your customers yesterday today and tomorrow. Continue to evolve and develop your products and services to ensure you are solutions driven.

3Build The Right Pitch

As each of your customer group face their unique challenges. Build a pitch that positions your communication for each customer group to maximise effectiveness.

Follow these 5 important pitch building steps

  • Who is the consumer?
  • What is the pain point that you’re looking to solve?
  • What is the setback for your consumer to not have that pain point solved?
  • What do you do to solve that pain point?
  • What is the result for your consumer, of having that pain point solved?

Once you’ve built the pitch, utilising them adequately, and start selling!

4Implement Your Strategy

This revenue-generating strategy has 2 aspects: hunting (Active) and farming (Reactive)

  • Hunting takes on the form of outbound action. Searching, meeting and engaging with your potential clients. In short, stepping out and finding your customers.
  • Farming is more reactive, it is known as inbound selling. You farm by leaving breadcrumbs that lead your customers towards your services. This is done by generating practical content and using digital platforms to attract attention towards your services or products.
  • Build a calendar for your hunting and farming activities, for the next 12 weeks, and specify tasks for each day.

Related: Savvy Sales Skills To Grow Your Franchise Footprint

5Execute, Measure, Adjust

  • Hunting: Make 10 calls before 10 am each day, make use of a sales script, this forms part of your daily activities.
  • Farming: Schedule a week’s worth of social media content to post.
  • After week one find out which group gives you the best response, tweak it & carrying on.

This plan will help you to notice which approaches yield the best results. You’re able to remove what doesn’t work and focus your time on what leads to the most sales. May this help you turn the last 7 weeks of the business year into a profitable one.

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