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Sales Strategy & Management

What SA Entrepreneurs are Doing Wrong

South Africa boasts great entrepreneurial spirit, but when it comes to turning great ideas into a great business, local entrepreneurs often drop the ball. So, why, SA entrepreneurs, is it so hard to do business with you?

Dylan Kohlstadt




Sales not meeting target?

It’s time to review your customer service.

Remember that time you really needed that service done to your car? You called to make an appointment and the voice on the other end promised to call back but never did.

Or that time the boutique was out of stock of an item you just had to have, and you watched them write your details down in that black book they all have that you suspect is used to swat flies with, because you still haven’t heard from them.

We-recommend-tickWe recommend: Your Ideas are Worthless Without This One Action

The myth

As South Africans, we’ve all heard with a sense of nationalistic pride how the world is so impressed by our work ethic, and how in-demand South Africans are because we have a service orientated mentality.

“I’m from a third world country,” we shout at the hapless shoe sales person, “And we have better service where I’m from.” Really?

The key to success

63% of SMEs fail within the first two years. Surely it can’t all be the economy. Is it possible that we actually suck when it comes to keeping our clients happy?

Here are eight things to implement to help improve customer experience and sales.

1. An SMS is good enough

When somebody reaches out to you via SMS, do you ask them to send you their details via email so that you ‘have them on your database‘? Or do you ignore it and think ‘if it’s important they’ll call’? An SMS is a sale waiting to happen, and you spurn it at your own cost.

2. Reply to emails and calls

I’ve lost track, and a few years I’m sure, waiting for people to get back to me when I’ve sent a query. Especially those web forms that are so popular these days. I just know I’m not going to get a response from anyone this century.

As the business owner, you should grab every lead with both hands and bend over backwards to convert those leads into sales.

3. Get a credit card machine or Snapscan

Are you a handyman, plumber, electrician, personal trainer, garden service, or any business that offers a personal service direct to the end user? And I bet you demand cash on delivery, don’t you?

Retailers without credit card machines just upset me. I have money in my pocket that I want to give you. Make it easy for me to spend with you.

At least get Snapscan – it’s super easy for customers to use and you won’t turn them away anymore, or send them searching for the closest ATM. No hassle, no fuss, and no waiting for EFTs to clear.

4. Listen to your voicemail

This is a problem a lot of us have. In this day of instant messaging, email on smartphones and the like, actually listening to your voicemail messages just seems so last decade.

Reality check: Not everybody out there is comfortable with today’s technology, and I can guarantee you that their money is as good as anybody else’s. And then don’t forget to call them back.

5. Follow up

You’ve quoted a client, and you believe you’ve met your end of the bargain. The ball is now in their court, and if you don’t hear from them again it’s because they weren’t serious clients in the first place.

Wrong! The wheel that squeaks the loudest gets the most oil, and you must remember that these people have money to spend. They want to give you their money – it’s up to you to convince them that you deserve it the most.

Follow up on your quotes and don’t let those fish get away.

We-recommend-tickWe recommend: Simple Money-Making Ideas for Entrepreneurs

6. eCommerce: Allow for credit cards

The user experience when you want to do an online purchase and they expect you to pay via EFT because they haven’t got credit card facilities is a deal killer.

I have never purchased anything online via EFT. Although I know many South Africans prefer EFT there are a bunch of us who don’t.

7. Don’t force loyalty

If somebody is willing to give you their business, don’t get bureaucratic on them and try to enforce unreasonable notice periods.

Good customer service is usually rewarded by good word of mouth feedback, and releasing unwilling customers from antiquated contracts will give you a really good reputation with your customers.

Remember, there’s power in giving in order to receive, so have a magnanimous view instead of a small-minded one and your business will grow accordingly.

If you follow these basic steps, your business should succeed.


Dylan Kohlstädt is the founder and account director of Shift ONE: outsource marketing for entrepreneurs. She has ten years marketing management experience in insurance, financial and property industries plus six years hands-on experience in online marketing involving web, mobile, SEO, CRM and Social Marketing and is considered a subject matter expert on all things digital. Visit for more information.


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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