Sales - 101

I have been involved in sales for pretty much most of my life. And I refer not only to my adult life, but I can recall in high school undertaking many profitable ventures.

One of my most fond memories is how a group of friends and I created a secondary market for lunch one day. Five of us managed to get out of class slightly early ahead of breaktime and arrived at the school tuckshop, each of us promptly taking up position in the 5 serving lines and ordered up all the stocks - both cooked food (hotdogs, pies etc) and all the cold beverages.

By the time the rest of the students got to the tuckshop to buy their lunch they had no option but to purchase it as a secondary sale from us (due to out of stock in the tuckshop now of fresh food and cold beverages), naturally at a marked up price. As much as this sounds like a childish schoolboy prank, it actually serves as a valuable lesson in account/sales management.

But is account management an art or a science? I think it is a blend of both, but needs to be fluid enough to shift the bias between the two. But will you succeed without one of them, in a word: NO.

Sales Management is made up of 4 pillars.

  1. Profitability management
  2. Account relationship selection
  3. Product migration paths
  4. Account planning

The first three are the key performance measure of the Sales Director role (to be covered at a later date). Account planning and execution lies with the account or sales manager.

Lets begin with the science of account management.... Without a plan of action, drawn up ahead of time you will simply not succeed.

So lets break it up into the basic components on how to do this:
  1. Know what the outcome you desire is
  2. Decide which and how many resources need to be involved
  3. Share the desired outcome with the whole team and devise the plan together
  4. Mobilise the needed resources according to a choreographed set piece 
  5. Each person must be accountable for their direct inputs, and jointly responsible for the outcome with the whole team
  6. Measure against the plan, correct where needed
  7. Repeat
Repeatability is critical, the process needs to be clearly defined almost mechanistic in nature. It must become an embedded mindset in the sales persons of a company. Further it goes without saying that although a team function, one person needs to be the owner to build up the puzzle and ultimately also carries the accountability for it end to end.

Compare these 7 points above versus my school tuckshop stunt or any commercial sales unit and you will see the fit is there.

[Grant Marais]