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The essentiality of selling is a non-negotiable part of every business or social endeavour.

A business which is not selling is definitely spiralling down the path to its demise. Again the transformational effect and impact and of a social enterprise would be diminished if it fails to co-opt the involvement of many persons of goodwill in advocating and advancing its causes.

The achievement of all organisational and institutional goals, however, modest or grandiose they might be, require the coming together of passionate sales people whose responsibility will be to proselytise, nurture and grow customer relationships.

It requires the unique meshing of efforts in a manner that optimises an organisation’s attempts at attaining a steady and sustained growth on all of its performance indices.

A dysfunctional and incoherent sales team on the other hand will be unsurprisingly less productive, dissipate resources and deride an organisations best effort at growth and achieving its stated objectives. I discuss below a few strategies businesses and organisations could adopt in building formidable sales teams that can deliver results over a sustained period of time.

Hire Right

While hiring the right people may appear thoroughly clichéd, it is not quite as obvious as it seems. Many Sales Managers are mostly about needing a body to fill in an empty seat with almost little to no deliberateness.

It behoves managers to seek frenetic but tempered individuals who are more adept at functioning efficiently in sales. Given that sales job advertisements typically receive applications in droves, applicants could be made to undertake personality type assessment tests whose results immediately sieves out persons who will be better inclined to work in a sales role.

Practically, anyone could work in sales, but the overwhelming majority of successful sales persons possess such identical attributes as being assertive, empathetic, persistent, honest, resourceful and eagerly desirous of solving customer problems. The objective of any hiring exercise therefore should aim at identifying persons who abundantly manifest these qualities.

Segregate Sales People into Farmers and Hunters

Most great sales people possess identical qualities but they are unique in their proficiency levels at various aspects of the sales function. Various authors have put forward different types of sales people and their descriptions, but the most widely used are the two types known as the Hunter and the Farmer.

Hunters are go-getters who like to be out there on the field actively seeking and initiating new relationships. Hunter sales people are generally out-going, enjoy selling and are thick-skinned, making them handle rejection a little more easily. What they basically do is to identify credible prospects, follow them up and patiently stalk them until they are successful in bringing them through the door. Farmers on the other hand are nurturers and relationship builders.

They are efficient at managing relationships with existing clients by seeking to understand their current needs and by cross-selling and up-selling the company’s products and to ultimately secure a greater share of the customer’s wallet. So while the Hunter seeks to make the sale “by any means necessary”, the farmer aims to demonstrate care and concern for the customer and their essential needs.

It is possible to have sales people who possess both hunter and farmer qualities, but it is best to identify the most dominant competency in each sales person and then synergise and have them work complementarily. Obviously, It would be counterproductive to demand hunter-type results and outcomes from an archetypal farmer and vice-versa.

Set Clear and Unequivocal Goals and Priorities

It is important to establish clear and unambiguous goals and priorities for your sales people regarding what you want them to achieve within a specific time period. These goals should be high enough to challenge and inspire the best efforts of your sales personnel but not outrageous and unrealistic to demotivate and douse their zeal to achieve.

It is also important to breakdown these goals into easily manageable milestones so they can be worked on steadily and sustainably. The key priorities where sales people are concerned are to seek and acquire valuable new business, increase the frequency of patronage and repeat business from existing clients and be dominant in meeting your customer’s essential needs where your products and services are concerned.

Measure Performance

Performance measurement minimises the tendency of having wandering busy bodies whose output vastly contrasts the time and resources available to them. Managers ought to design a system of collecting and analysing all the information regarding the performance of individual sales people.

Key performance metrics for sales people range from Pipelines, Customer Win Rate, Average Revenue Per Account/Product/Customer, Lifetime Value of a Customer, Total Revenue and Month-on-Month/Quarterly/Year-on-Year Growth on all relevant numbers. Pipelines are the credible most convertible prospects you’ve acquired over a period.

The Customer Win Rate allows you to measure the effectiveness of customer calls, visits and all prospecting activities. The Average Revenue per Account/Customer guides your effort at evenly spreading your revenue streams across several customers while ensuring you avoid the risk of concentrating your revenues with just a few customers whose exit could be mortally injurious to your business and its prospects.

The Lifetime Value of a customer is an approximation of the total revenue the business expects to earn over the entire duration of its relationship with that customer and this is essential in guiding the company’s choice regarding which customers to invest more effort and time to build relationships with. Overall you should always track the total effect of your effort on your company’s bottom line with the ultimate purpose of ensuring consistent, sustained and cumulative growth on all relevant numbers. 


Incentives are critical to the management of sales people and ranges from monetary to non-monetary incentives. Overall, monetary incentives are the most preferred by sales people, but non-monetary incentives often convey a deeper sense of care, community and engender great sense of camaraderie between the organisation and its personnel.

Non-monetary incentives include such things as publicly acknowledging the hard work of sales people, offering gifts in recognition of exceptional performances, solidarising with them on achieving a milestone(graduation, wedding, etc) and offer of support  when they encounter a major life challenge. Monetary incentives include the use of a tiered commission structure so sales personnel earn more with increasing performance, quarterly incentives to ensure short to medium-term continuity and minimise sales person’s turnover.

Create a Winning Culture

Selling is tough work and a winning culture is one that supports the sales person’s efforts at succeeding in the market place. This includes a culture that eliminates bureaucracy and red-tape allowing seamless communication between all levels and generally creating a work environment that does not inhibit efforts at delivering results.

Building a successful sales team takes time, effort and work, but in the end it yields the much-desired rewards of a profitable, stable, sustained growth of the business.


The writer is a Marketing Strategist and lecturer


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