The “absent” Sales Director

Director comercial ausente sdevant blog red1 300x226In the course of my job, I am often called into companies that are looking for help with their commercial strategy, assistance to increase sales, support in raising sales efficiency or, even, aid in improving product lines to adapt to changing markets. Who comes to these meetings? We usually get the CEO, CFO and the Production and Purchasing Directors..which is when I always ask:

“…couldn’t the Sales Director make it?” 

“CEO: No, we don’t HAVE a Sales Director”. 

It may be that you don’t need a Sales Director as such, but in the cases in question we are talking about companies with at least 4-strong sales team in the street.

I am equally fascinated and worried by the reason I am given and what lies behind a businessman being willing to pay for, more or less qualified, line managers, but see no need to employ a professional Sales Director. My personal experience is that many SMEs don’t have a Sales Director because they don’t know what one is supposed to do nor what they can bring to the table. What’s more, many mistakenly believe that the Sales Director should be the Number One Salesman. NOTHING COULD BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH.

What, then, is a Sales Director? In my opinion, A Sales Director is “a Director of Personnel specifically for the Sales Department.” A professional whose task is to organise, formulate strategies, define objectives and manage the team to assure that each of them hit their targets and that individual salesmen improve those points that have to be enhanced.

Having reached this point, some of my readers will think they are reading science fiction. Quite the contrary, what I find unacceptable is that a company controls and knows everything about what they make and what they spend, but have no idea who their clients are (these usually belong to the salesman), where they are selling, why they are selling a, even, if the sales team is performing below potential threshold.

I am a firm defender of the post of the Professional Sales Director, a figure that should play an important role in any organisation with a minimum sales structure.

The list of his responsibilities and duties include but are not limited to:

  • Establish the SALES TARGET together with General Management
  • Define company sales policy with regard to customers and products
  • Determine specific targets for the organisation and for individuals with the aim of achieving the SALES TARGET
  • Establish a system designed to measure the performance in all phases of the sales process (Key Indicators)
  • Oversee and evaluate individual salesmen to identify weak points and to work with them to put improvement plans in place.

Salvador Devant
Consultant in Sales and Marketing Strategy


Salesman, what am I paying you for?

Vendedor para qué te pago sdevant blog 300x200Don’t you feel that’s a strange question? But, what do you think is the usual answer when you ask your salesmen? And you, what DO you pay them for?

The usual answers can be summed up as:“We’re paid to sell” or “We’re paid to follow orders”.

If you get answers like these or variants on them, you have a big problem in your sales organisation. I’ll try to explain why.

A salesman whose only objective is that of selling more will only visit those accounts from which he expects to get an order, he’ll pressure the client harder and will, in some cases, offer terms and promotional conditions that may prove very difficult to redress in the future. If all your commercial staff is just looking to maximise sales volumes, they won’t be providing the company with the market information it needs, nor will this be correctly documented in the firm’s support systems. They won’t be talking to the client to explore new business opportunities nor will they be building relationships with the customers to help to keep the competition out.

If you find this a little far-fetched, just take a look at your customers’ files. How many of them put “Contact”: John, Paul or Mary? Where are the surnames and contact details? What are you going to do if you want to contact them directly? Or, far worse, what happens if the salesman leaves you company? He just walks off with the customer list and details?.

Obviously, selling is one of their tasks and, very probably, the most important since without the orders you cannot invoice your customers. But to sell successfully, a salesman needs to make a plan and do his homework before, during and after his visits, and, perhaps most importantly, all within the limits of company frameworks, strategies and policies.

So…, what should I be paying them for?

To sell with an eye on the bottom line.

It might seem obvious, but not all salesmen are fully aware of this.Selling profitably means selling the volume of company goods or services at prices which assure each customer’s cost-effectiveness.

To represent the company. 

As a businessman, it is vital to realise that your sales team is your company image to your customers. This impression will be influenced by the way they dress, how they handle themselves, how they put themselves over whether or not they are adequately aware of the benefits and advantages of the product. So, given this situation, why do so many companies leave these details to chance and the individual salesman?

To be part of the marketing team. 

Simply put, this means the salesmen have to take information to the market and bring information back in accordance with the systems and frameworks established by the company. In other words: they should be doing those administrative tasks inherent to their job, something that the majority of salesmen hate. Without the information, the company is “blind” as the lack of data means they cannot make informed decisions. Specifically, the sales team should provide, at least information on:

  • Complete customer details including a “Who is Who”
  • Competitor data
  • Market opportunities
  • Entry barriers
  • Sales routes

These three duties for the sales team are by no means an exhaustive list and, depending on a company’s specific needs, may be added to or adapted.

The next time you ask your sales force why they are getting paid if you get an answer along the lines of: “many things in addition to selling” you are on the way to having a professional sales team.

Salvador Devant
Consultor en estrategia comercial y márketing en International Team Consutling

International Team Consulting opens up the German market for a Catalan Kiddies’ Wear company.

Ropa bebe exportación alemania International Team Consutling 207x300During 2013, International Team Consulting operated as the externalised export department of a Catalan manufacturer of Kiddies’ Wear.

The project kicked off in May 2013 with the aim of setting up a sales network in Germany. After 8 months of analysis, investigation, market research and follow-up by the native German group at International Team Consulting, the company is now operating in the market with a network of the best agents in the sector. By using a native team we were able to overcome language problems and work effectively within the framework of the market.

The Barcelona-based company has now added Germany to its markets bringing the total to 11.

For more information, please contact:

Claudia Mayer
Consultant at International Team Consulting

The experience and know-how of International Team Consulting in overseas markets help to consolidate the sales of a producer from the industrial refrigeration industry.

componentes frigoríficos. Export Germany. International Team Consulting 259x300In 2011, International Team Consulting was appointed as the outsourced export department with the aim of opening and consolidating new markets.

The main tasks assigned to International Team Consulting’s teams of native consultants were those typical of any export department: opening and consolidating new markets, following up sales leads and existing clients, handling enquiries and follow-up of offers, taking orders and studying new product lines with old and new customers. The undertaking also included regular visits to existing clients and exploratory visits to potential markets.

To date markets have been opened and consolidated in South Africa, Austria, Germany, Greece, Chile and the UK amongst others.

For further information please contact with:

Claudia Mayer
Consultant at International Team Consulting