Professionalizing the sales industry key to company success

Bill Gibson training at i-fundi Community of Experts event

Professionalising the sales industry key to company success

Sales is the life blood of every organization, yet as a profession it is still largely unstructured. According to international sales and marketing guru, Bill Gibson, professional selling involves continually walking into the world of uncertainty on a daily basis, certain of our success because we are practicing the winning habits, principles, skills, attitudes and processes of top sales professionals.


“As an organization passionate about vocational career development, we see the sales industry as a market ripe for development in terms of helping sales consultants and executives enter a ladder of learning and gain a professional qualification”, said i-Fundi CEO, Stefan Lauber, at last Friday’s Community of Experts at i-Fundi in Sandton.


During his energetic, three hour presentation to a packed audience, Gibson shared some of the sales and marketing secrets that he has successfully applied with clients in South Africa and North America. Captivating the audience with his humour and indepth knowledge gained from more than 40 years of sales experience, his tips on how to bust sales targets by finishing the year strong and starting the new year fast are gems for anyone in sales or account management.


Top 10 ‘Strong Finish’ tips before you leave


  1. Plan or review your day the night before: Plan your daily activities the night before & let your subconscious work on it while you sleep. That will start your day with momentum. Momentum is one of the keys to success. Flat out until December 15th.
  1. Early morning and late afternoon appointments: Having 7:00am appointments one or two days a week ensures a fast start (Momentum) and done weekly between now and year end could produce miracles. You could also include late afternoon (e.g. 5pm) appointments. Consider telephone appointments as well. “Can we set a telephone appointment for 7:30am?”
  1. Book two weeks in advance: For next week 70% of your appointments booked out by 4pm Thursday afternoon of this week and 30% booked for the following week (pro–active time). Try “telephone meeting requests.”
  1. Last call of the day: Just when you are about to “call it quits” for the day make one last phone call or personal visit. It can turn a slow day into a great day.
  1. Utilize “to do” lists daily: A Daily “To Do” list is a short term sales or business plan. Mark them off as you accomplish the “To Do’s.” It creates Achievement which creates Energy which in-turn creates Spirit. Also use “Not To Do Lists.” If you think it then “ink it.”
  1. Increase prospect and client visits or phone calls by 20% over the next 6 weeks: Logic says by increasing your visits or phone calls you will automatically increase your revenue and other vital results. Bust through your comfort zone. Track your number of calls. See the improvement.
  1. Set activities and results for the first two weeks of December: Do this to write as much business in two weeks that you would normally write in a month.
  1. Pre-set appointments for the new year before leaving: Set a minimum number of meeting commitments for the first 3 weeks of the new year.
  1. Have a specific list of clients ready to contact: Have this already prepared before leaving. Immediate momentum.
  1. Set sales targets before leaving: Determine the daily, weekly and monthly activities you will need in order to achieve the first quarter’s targets. Let your subconscious work on it while you are away.


Top 10 ‘Fast Start’ tips when you are back


  1. Database: Get your mind moving by sifting through your Data Base or contact lists on the first day back at work or before you actually officially start work.
  1. Welcome back: In the first few weeks set a goal to call as many past, present and future clients to welcome them back and wish them a great year while introducing a few new thoughts, ideas, etc. Ask for referrals.
  1. Bright lights: See clients immediately that are ‘Bright Lights’ or ‘Pleasurable People’ to be talking to and draw on their sincerity, care, energy etc. This can get your mind and your mouth moving. Be the “bright light” for others.
  1. Newness: Bringnewness’ into the New Year. New ideas, new avenues, new approaches, new opportunities, etc. Spice up the start of the year.
  1. Inspire yourself: Start your day with your inspirational books, motivational CD’s, bible, spiritual books etc.
  1. Keep the right company: Look at your circle of friends and acquaintances – do they motivate, feed and energize you or do they bring you down and demotivate and drain you? Invest more time with the first group. Surround yourself with people who help you grow and perform better this year.
  1. Wow service: Identify one client per week to WOW them with very special client service. Use this on your prospects and clients with most potential or those who are most wanted.
  1. Monitor your holiday stories: Avoid excessive time discussing ‘What You Did On Holiday’ with colleagues and even clients.
  1. Wall chart: Have your goals visible and let others see them so you have that extra incentive to reach those goals (It puts you on-the-line). Have your goals on a wall-chart, whiteboards etc. for a continual usable reminder. Have your targets in a visible place and have them displayed in such a way you can see your progress. It can be done through daily deduction from a total or through adding to it daily towards a goal. Immediately look for ways to work smarter not harder.
  1. The right focus: Which areas do you focus on:
  1. Focus on the right clients/prospects
  2. … with the right frequency
  3. … with the right database selling tools
  4. … with the right solutions
  5. … with the right timing
  6. … with the right presentation
  7. … with the right skills
  8. … with the right attitude



For more information on i-Fundi’s qualification in Sales and Marketing, click here.


How to Improve Your B-BBEE Scorecard by Understanding the EAP

I-Fundi’s Community of Experts’ event on the 30th of September was an event not to be missed. But if you did happen to miss it, we want to highlight a few key points within this article.

Our Speaker was Mr Trevor Tshabangu, Executive Director of Transcend Corporate Advisors, and the topic for the day was “How to Improve Your B-BBEE Scorecard by Understanding the EAP.”

The event itself was packed with indispensable information such as the amended BB-BEE codes, the five elements of the BB-BEE scorecard, how to understand the Economically Active Profiles, and how to apply them to the BB-BEE Scorecard.

Mr Tshabangu emphasised that the new BB-BEE codes are harder to achieve now than in the past. Every company will go through a steep learning curve from now on. For example, a company that previously scored 68% and achieved a Level 4 on the old scorecard will drop to a Level 7 with the same 68% score. Instead of trying to follow a ‘level strategy,’ Mr Tshabangu recommended following a ‘point’s strategy.’ He said that the new aim should be to improve on the total number of points.

One of the more important observations made by Mr Tshabangu at the event was the fact that BB-BEE concerns are generally only addressed by companies at the end of the year when they realise that their certificate is about to expire. He advised that, in order to avoid the chaos at the end of the year, BB-BEE must be interwoven into the overall corporate strategy and budget. “Take BB-BEE and fit it into the business and not the other way around,” Mr Tshabangu said.

We spoilt our attendees with ample information, and we plan to deliver the same information to you in a short series of articles.

Contact us.

Getting your BB-BEE score right – Part 1

The original concept of Black Economic Empowerment, developed in 1994, was based purely on a company’s level of black ownership. Later, however, this was acknowledged as an ineffective way to measure empowerment. It only benefited a few and therefore, the base was too narrow. Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment aims to broaden the base of black people involved in and benefiting from economic activity.

In October 2013, the DTI amended the BB-BEE codes of good practice. The seven elements of the BB-BEE scorecard have been reduced to five. The DTI collapsed the Management and Employment Equity elements into Management and Control, and Preferential Procurement and Enterprise Development into Enterprise and Supplier Development. The five BB-BEE scorecard elements are now:

  1. Ownership
  2. Management and Control
  3. Skills development
  4. Enterprise and Supplier Development
  5. Socio-Economic Development

The grace period for assessment of companies under the new codes has passed. From now on, everyone will be assessed under the new codes. The demands under the new codes are far more stringent. Just to keep their previous score, companies will have to do approximately 25% better than previously.

According to Trevor Shabango, from Transcend Advisors, who presented at the Community of Experts workshop on BB-BEE, many companies will drop by at least 4 levels, when assessed this year under the new codes.

Given the need for companies to up their procurement score, buyers will want to work only with suppliers whose BB-BEE score will increase their own score. In other words, the BB-BEE score is no longer a compliance exercise but now a competitive advantage.

Unfortunately, many companies have not yet realised that. They often wait until the last minute when their current BB-BEE is about to expire before they start to consider what they are to do for the next audit, which leaves them with only a few options to influence the outcome.

If you are interested in advice on how to avoid a downgrade, click here.

Article – Getting your BB-BEE score right – Part 1

In our last article, we talked about the importance of keeping your BB-BBEE Scorecard up-to-date and avoiding a downgrade. One of the easiest ways for companies to improve their score is Skills Development.

Skills Development is now also one of the priority areas. This means that if a company does not score at least 40% of the available points (i.e. 10 points), its overall score will reduce by one level. But if proper investment in Skills Development occurs, a company that could only score 15 points in the past can now earn 25 points.

The biggest change is that companies now have to spend more than ever before on accredited training. Companies must spend 6% of its payroll expenditures on accredited training, whereas in the past, the figure was only 3% and did not need to be accredited.

Another major change is that a company can include outside training in its calculation. In other words, a company does not only have to train its own staff but can now sponsor the training of people not employed by the company. Supporting NGOs or paying bursaries for students is an attractive option, particularly if we consider the current funding crisis in higher education.

As in the past, 5% of a company’s headcounts need to be enrolled in an internship or apprenticeship. Under the new codes, half of them need to be chosen from amongst the current staff and the other half need to be unemployed candidates.

A company can earn an extra 5 bonus points if 70% of the previously unemployed learners obtain gainful employment. It is important to note that the percentage calculation derives from the number of people who completed the programme and not from the number of learners who started.

Keep in mind that training expenditures only count if the participants are black. The new codes want to make sure that the amount spent on training is representative of the racial and gender demographics of an area where a company operates. For example, let us say that a company is located in the Western Cape, its training spend must be proportional to the distribution of the population in that area. The codes refer to this as the Economically Active Population (EAP).

Establishing how to calculate these proportions is challenging for most companies. Therefore, we have dedicated much time in the workshop on how to calculate these EAP numbers. Realising the complexity of the task, i-Fundi together with Transcend will shortly release an app, similar to a home loan calculator, which will help companies to establish these targets easily for themselves. If you would like to pre-order your own EAP app from i-Fundi and Transcend contact us today.

If you would like us to help you maximise your BB-BEE score through skills development, contact us by filling out the form on our contact us page.

Scarce Skills and Critical Skills

As you may know, South Africa has been facing a major skills shortage over the last decade or more. As a human resource professional, you could familiarise yourself with the lists of Scarce Skills and Critical Skills to see where the needs are and how to address the issues more effectively. “Importing” scarce skills from other countries may seem like a good idea but it’s not beneficial in the long run. It is up to us as South Africans to take matters into our own hands and put employees on an NQF ladder of learning to ensure the future of our people.

Scarce Skills refer to the occupations in which there are a scarcity of qualified and experienced people, currently or anticipated in the future, either (a) because such skilled people are not available or (b) they are available but do not meet employment criteria.

The Top Ten Scarce Skills in South Africa:

(as found in the Government Gazette Nr 37678)

Electrical Engineer

Civil Engineer

Mechanical Engineer

Quantity Surveyor

Programme/Project Manager

Finance Manager

Physical and Engineering Science Technicians

Industrial and Production Engineers


Chemical Engineer

Critical Skills refer to particular capabilities needed within an occupation, for example, general management skills, communication and customer handling skills, teamwork skills, problem solving [cognitive skills], communication [e.g., language and literacy skills] and technology skills.

A Shortened List of some of the Critical Skills in South Africa:

(A comprehensive list can be found here: http://www.home-affairs.gov.za/images/immigration_critical_skills.pdf)

Agricultural Engineer

Agricultural Scientist

Forestry Technician

Sheep Shearer


CISCO Solution Specialist

CISCO Engineers

Solutions Architects in Telecommunications and ICT

Integrated Developers (PHP, PERL, JAVA)

Network Analyst

Energy Engineer

Metallurgical Engineer

Chemical Engineer

Civil Engineer

Electrical Engineer

Medical Superintendant/Public Health Manager

Public Health Physician

General and Specialist Medical Practitioner

Hospital Pharmacist

Nursing Professionals

Environmental Engineers

Environmental Manager

Industrial Pharmacist

Aquatic Scientist

Animal Scientist

Land and Engineering Surveyors

Electronic Engineering Technician

Materials Engineering Technologist

Electrical Engineering Technician

Safety, Health, Environment and Quality Practitioner


Boilermaker (For Strategic Infrastructure Projects)

Industrial Machinery Mechanic

Pipe Fitter

Double Coded Welder

Software Development Engineers and Managers

Systems Architects, Engineers and Managers

Foreign Language speakers for specialist language support and technical or sales support

Business Analyst

Quality Analyst


Feel free to leave a comment in the section below or use ‘Contact Us’ to get in touch with any questions you may have around scarce and critical skills and how to combat the problem effectively.

Managing Diversity in the Workplace

As you know, very few countries can match South Africa when it comes to diversity. And there are so many levels of diversity. According to human psychology, there are three distinguishable dimensions of diversity, which can be anything from the primary level “age” to a tertiary level “smoking or non-smoking.” No two people are alike and yet we are all the same. We all need to provide for ourselves and our families. We all need to belong. And we all deserve to be treated with dignity.

The Need for Diversity in the Workplace

According to the case study of Hewlett-Packard, compiled by Yousuf Kamal, having a diverse workforce “affects the productivity and efficiency of the workforce in general.” And the more diverse your workforce is, the more your employees can deliver their own unique perspective into problem solving, dealing with clients and performing day-to-day tasks.

The Responsibility of Companies

According to Dr. Mathur-Helm of the University Of Stellenbosch Business School, companies should implement and strictly enforce a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to interpersonal problems arising from diversity. As a human resource professional, you might already be aware that all employees must be made to understand that all of their colleagues should be treated with respect and dignity, despite their apparent differences. Team-building events and office parties could potentially foster interpersonal relationships.

And when it comes to managing interpersonal conflicts, it should go without saying that any and all complaints need to be treated seriously and equally.

Diversity is to be celebrated but in a sensitive manner. Make sure that the positives of diversity are highlighted and the potential negatives diminished. If you need more information on this matter, please contact us by using the form found under “Contact Us.” Or leave a comment in the section below.

I-Fundi Article by Susan Long