Among the many challenges facing business today are tightened market conditions, increased competition and reduced budgets. The challenge is therefore to be more competitive and efficient. So said Ivor Jones, chairman of the ThinkSales corporation at the opening of this year’s ThinkSales Sales Leadership Conference. “Greater market analysis, extended customer analysis, sales force sizing and structure, sales force alignment as well as your company structure all have a role to play in driving your desired sales results,” he continued. “The speakers throughout this conference will be addressing these and other challenges.”
Day one of the two-day conference kicked off with Nic Read, founder of SalesLabs in the US, discussing how sales teams can access the C-suite of companies. His core message was that buying today has changed – but selling hasn’t, leaving a huge gap in realizing sales targets. “The democratisation of information means that companies already know everything about you and your company before you even walk through the door. There isn’t anything you can tell them that they don’t already know. So you need another reason to walk through that door – and keep coming back.”
According to Read, that ‘thing’ is adding real value to clients. “Every company has issues and problems that they are focusing on solving. You need to recognise these and help them get there. To really access executives, you need to not only be a sales representative, you need to become a trusted advisor, offering them information, insight and advice pertinent to their industry.”
Even if your company delivers on the sale well, in today’s climate that does not mean you are a shoe-in for the next deal. Why? Because sales consultants often do not track value throughout the deal. “You need to make a promise, show what you are doing, highlight what your customer’s staff are saying about the way you are delivering on that promise and then offer all the new ideas you have had along the way. Tell your customer, ‘we have been tracking and discussing the experience of your team with our product/service, and these are the ideas we have had on how you can improve efficiencies, cut costs and so on’. That’s building value beyond the sale,” said Read.
The second keynote speaker of the day, sales linguistic expert Steve W Martin, focused on how to create rapport with a customer. “Different people at different levels of the organisation and in different departments care about different things, and the way you communicate with them should reflect that,” he explained.
“Every decision maker has two areas of focus: what they are creating within the organisation, and what they are controlling. Your product or service will solve different needs at different levels. What the CEO and CIO care about for instance, is not the same as what the IT manager cares about. Determine what the individual who you are speaking to is creating and controlling, and speak in their specific language. Don’t talk about what an IT manager cares about to a CIO. You will not hold their attention.”
Martin’s advice is to determine these ‘create’ and ‘control’ factors before a meeting. This not only guides you to speak in the correct ‘language’ for who you are communicating with, but it forces you to mentally put yourself in their shoes, which in turn means you are having the conversation they want to have, instead of reciting your own industry jargon, catch phrases and the technical language of your product or service to them. “The goal of a sales consultant is to build momentum – and to do that you need to be having a conversation.”
Silver Linings For Smaller Businesses In Budget 2018
Comments by Pieter Bensch, Executive Vice President, Africa & Middle East at Sage.
As expected, the Finance Minister and Treasury have proposed some tough measures to address South Africa’s tax collection shortfall, growing budget deficit, and new spending priorities such as free education. Higher VAT, fuel levies and import duties on luxury goods will no doubt crimp consumer spending, which could be bad news for smaller businesses.
But we are pleased that the Finance Minister has raised his GDP growth projections and proposed interventions to help grow Small & Medium South African businesses. We welcome the steps government is taking to restore fiscal credibility, rein in spending, and hold off another credit ratings downgrade – it may be painful in the short term, but we should be rewarded in the longer term.
On small businesses, competition policy and market access
It was great to see the Finance Minister talk extensively about the hopes and concerns of entrepreneurs and small businesses in his Budget Speech today. We welcome his acknowledgement that low market access and high barriers to entry are constraining the growth of the country’s small businesses.
Minister Gigaba mentioned that government will take action against anti-competitive behaviour that harms these businesses.
That is a worthy goal, but we think we should also be looking more closely at how big businesses can play a constructive role in nurturing the growth of small businesses through mentoring and partnership. Small businesses are tomorrow’s customers, suppliers and employers, so it’s in everyone’s interest to grow this sector.
On small business funding
We heard more about the R2.1 billion fund Departments of Small Businesses and Science & Technology and the National Treasury are developing to benefit small and medium enterprises during the early start-up phase. It’s good news that government is investing in innovative startups, but it’s important that the funding is spent in an efficient and productive manner. Picking winners and losers isn’t easy, so we’d like to hear more details about how government will choose to allocate this money.
On public procurement
It makes enormous sense for government to use public procurement to support black economic empowerment, industrialisation and development of small businesses. We are glad to hear that government sees its billions of rand in procurement spend as a lever to empower small business owners – we look forward to more detail about how government will enable more small and micro businesses to participate in procurement opportunities. And of course, it’s critically important that government follows through on its promise to pay small businesses within 30 days of invoicing.
Cash flow is a major challenge for small businesses and few of them can afford to wait three to six months for payment on a big project.
Most consumers and businesses have been preparing themselves for a VAT increase in this budget. As unpalatable as many people will find the one-percentage point hike in the VAT rate, it was an obvious choice for a Finance Minister wanting to raise more revenue without dampening business investment or consumer spending.
The VAT hike will take some money out of people’s pockets, but will probably have less impact on business confidence than higher corporate taxes and less impact on consumer spending than further personal tax increases.
As expected, government has preserved the zero-rated status of some staples to lessen the impact on the poor. Small & Medium Businesses will need to make sure their systems are ready to cater for the new VAT rate, but this should not be too much of a challenge for those with automated accounting systems. By international standards, VAT in South Africa is still relatively low – we can just hope that this increase is not followed by another in the next year or two.
4 Budget Speech 2018 Outcomes To Know For Your Business
2018 Budget Speech commentary by Rob Cooper, tax expert and Director of Legislation at Sage.
The increases to taxes across the board are less painful than I expected. The general improvement to the fiscal framework and the reduction of expenditure by R86 billion over three years seem to have gotten us over the hump – for now, in any case.
1. Personal income tax
There were no surprises as far as personal income tax (PIT) is concerned. The top 45% rate remains unchanged and tax bracket creep relief is given only to those who earn below R410 000 per annum. Bracket creep in personal income tax, along with fuel levies, offers low-hanging fruit for the Finance Minister.
National Health Insurance
It’s good news that the Medical Tax Credit is still with us, even if it has received a below-inflation increase. This Medical Tax Credit is relatively small – especially with this year’s low increase – but it does help to make private medical cover affordable for millions of low-income South Africans.
2. Travel reimbursements
Great news for taxpayers and employers from the Budget: Government has scrapped the 12,000km a year limitation for using the prescribed rate per kilometre to calculate travel reimbursements. This will simplify travel reimbursement administration, but could open the door for increased levels of non-compliance in respect of travel reimbursements. On the whole, however, this will make life much easier for businesses.
3. Employment tax incentive
The Minister of Finance has decided that six special economic zones (SEZs) should be recognised by the ETI Act. Employers will thus be able to claim the Employment Tax Incentive for all employees working in one of these SEZs, irrespective of an employee’s age, but subject to qualification tests such as minimum wage and maximum remuneration. Outside of the SEZ, employers can only claim for the incentive for employees aged 18 to 29 years. This is a great way to generate more employment in the SEZs.
The VAT increase was expected and inevitable, and so were the VAT exemptions and increases to social grants the Finance Minister has applied to shield the poor from the impact of higher VAT.
Tsogo Sun Entrepreneurs Takes On 30 New Businesses
22 Women and 20 men – attended a three-day induction at Tsogo Sun’s Crowne Plaza The Rosebank hotel in Johannesburg from 31 January to 2 February.
With new hope burgeoning throughout the South African business environment as fundamental political change sweeps through the country, the Tsogo Sun Entrepreneurs programme has inducted 42 new beneficiaries from 30 different SMMEs for a year of intense training, coaching, mentorship and support – to assist them to professionalise and grow their businesses. This brings to 242 the total number of entrepreneurs supported by the programme.
The inductees – 22 women and 20 men – attended a three-day induction at Tsogo Sun’s Crowne Plaza The Rosebank hotel in Johannesburg from 31 January to 2 February. This represented the commencement of the programme’s 2018 development year, which incorporates the provision of customised analysis and strategic plans tailored to the specific needs of each enrolled business, business management courses provided by the University of Cape Town and facilitated by GetSmarter; Financial literacy courses through the Colour Accounting system, Microsoft Office courses, and Sales & Marketing training. The beneficiaries are each assigned a business analyst, a financial mentor and a leadership coach who work with them to implement their business strategies throughout the year.
This year’s class of 2018 entrepreneurs is made up of 30 small businesses operating in provinces across six provinces in South Africa in a diverse range of market sectors that include: tourism, ICT, cleaning, professional services, manufacturing, retail, health and beauty, agriculture and secretarial and administrative services. Candy Tothill, Tsogo Sun’s GM of Corporate Affairs, says “Part of the value of such a diverse group is that it creates opportunities for the businesses to trade with each other.”
She adds, “Job creation is increasingly crucial in South Africa, as unemployment has reached unprecedented levels, particularly among the youth. Through the Tsogo Sun Entrepreneurs programme, we identify and assist people running their own businesses to professionalise their operations in an effort to make them viable employers who are sustainable businesses and contributors to the growth of the country’s economy. At the same time, we encourage them to be “conscious” consumers who procure local products and services and support each other by keeping it local and proudly South African. We are interested in changing their approaches from “managerial” mindsets to “leadership” mindsets, and so we motivate them to be fearless in their approach to growth with purpose. The programme provides them with the skills to enhance their strategic planning and performance and the wisdom to “pay it forward” by training them to become leaders in their communities. The role that the programme’s mentors and coaches play in instilling these values is of great significance to the achievement of our objectives.”
Belinda Francis, MD of Tych Solutions, a generalist recruitment agency based in Durban with offices in Johannesburg and Eastern Cape, was enthusiastic about joining the Tsogo Sun Entrepreneurs programme. “Tsogo Sun is an amazing brand to be associated with, but more so, having met the team at a Supplier Showcase and heard others’ success stories, I was hungry to learn more and be a part of this journey. I don’t have an active partner and so I believe this programme will help to grow and empower me and my entire team even further. I am big on empowering and developing people and small businesses – and this will certainly create the platform for me to do so.”
Entrepreneur Carol Mlangeni, director of Enhle Creatives Photography & Design, also based in Durban, says she was browsing the internet looking for guidance on how to resolve issues within her company when she saw a Tsogo Sun Entrepreneurs advertisement – and immediately responded. “I have issues within my business and I have been looking for answers on how to resolve them and grow my business and my brand awareness – I hope to achieve this through this programme.” Mlangeni adds that her future plans include providing job opportunities for “other aspiring enthusiasts like me”.
Thato Senosi is Founder of Magauta Designs and Projects, which supplies custom-made curtains, upholstery, and furniture repairs, and is based in Katlehong in Ekurhuleni. He was introduced to Tsogo Sun Entrepreneurs by his mother, Carol Senosi, who joined the programme in 2016 and was a finalist in the Entrepreneur of the Year Awards. He says he joined the programme because
“I believe that entrepreneurship is a science, and one needs to put together all the necessary tools and formulas to build a successful business – and this programme offers that. My expectations this year are to identify missing formulas and find solutions, to be monitored and supported, and helped to become a great version of myself so I can inspire others, because no man is an island.”
His plans for the future include starting his own textile manufacturing company and bringing industry into the township to help combat some of the social challenges in his local community.
Says Tothill, “It’s encouraging to see the growing reach of Tsogo Sun Entrepreneurs throughout the country and in a diverse range of businesses, and we wish our new beneficiaries – the Class of 2018 – every success through the year as they discover new ways to develop themselves and their enterprises.”
Tsogo Sun has a portfolio of over 100 hotels and 13 casino and entertainment destinations throughout South Africa, Africa and the Seychelles. For more details, visit https://www.tsogosun.com, follow on Twitter @TsogoSun or like on Facebook /TsogoSun.
- New Fund For Small Businesses To Be Developed
- How To Think Like A Billionaire
- Relax Spas Founder Noli Mini Shares Her Insights On Building A Business Of Value
- What It Will Really Take For South Africa’s Businesses To Scale And Create Jobs
- Silver Linings For Smaller Businesses In Budget 2018
- Leadership: What Is Your Why? (Read Purpose)
- Start-Up Law: I’m A Start-up Founder. Can I Pay Employees With Shares?
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