Dave Nel, National Head of Sales Enablement at Investec, joins The Collaborator to explore Enablement in South Africa, his views on starting from scratch, and the importance of sales coaching.

One of the key messages that David has, based upon his work right now, was the importance of working with sales managers to amplify and scale his sales coaching efforts. Key tips included:

1️⃣Meet the leaders based upon where they are, what their needs are, and personalize how you work with them.

2️⃣Use metrics and feedback surveys to fully understand what their needs are and where they truly are.

3️⃣Get buy-in from the sales managers’ leaders to support your efforts.  

4️⃣Get feedback from the individual sellers.  In David’s case, the 400+ individual sellers articulated, via a survey, that they needed their leaders to be coaches.

As always, give a listen and remain curious.

Audio Transcript

The Collaborator
I’m more than collaborator here today again, and I am super stoked to have Dave now who’s from South Africa, which really excites me because, and it probably doesn’t excite you nearly as much because you live there, but you’re the first practitioner that I’ve ever had on my show from South Africa. So welcome, Todd, tell us all a little bit about you by yourself.

Dave Nel
Um, I’m glad. Thank you for having me, john. I’m glad that I’m the first I hope I’m not the last because there are a few of us. In in South Africa. I am Yes, South African born and raised. Been here my whole life except for a stint when I was in the US, which I was lucky enough to do. And I did my undergrad and my MBA there. And then for the last probably, almost 20 years, I’ve been working in sales, sales, leadership, and sales coaching. And for the last two years sales enablement. My passion really is coaching and developing sales people. And then I would say it was a coupled with studying the psychology behind sales. Because there’s a there’s a lot that happens in a sales interaction that people forget. So yeah, that’s me in a in a very small nutshell.

The Collaborator
I love it. No, I love that. And I’ll share with the listeners for a second. I asked Dave, before, before we went live, I said, Hey, have you ever been to this place called lucrin? Or blue cram bridge or something?

Dave Nel
There you go. You got it? Yeah. Okay, because my

The Collaborator
daughter went to South Africa a couple of years ago. And she bungee jumped off of it. And it looked like an insanely high and crazy experience. And for the record, Dave showed enough common sense not to do that. So that that just builds up as my respect for him right then and there. And so before we dive into it, I know, I actually do have another practitioner joining in another week or two from South Africa, which I’m excited about and stoked about. But what is enablement? Like in South Africa right now?

Dave Nel
If we can start? Yeah, it’s, I think it’s a strange word word. I mean, we only created the role inside of our organization about two years ago, I work for a global private bank here in South Africa. And I think we struggle to even define what it was to be honest, we just like the name. There’s not many of us. But we do we do have. Finally, I think last last week, we we launched our sales enablement chapter. And we have a couple of members. And and we’re slowly working on it, but it probably will give you an indication. I think, globally, the sales enablement society has 56 chapters around the world. It’s about the number 4640. Sounds

The Collaborator
about right. Yeah,

Dave Nel
yeah. And there’s only one in the whole continent of Africa. And that’s our one. So it’s, it’s a very, very fledgling type of profession, I guess. But the good thing is that we’ve got lots of global companies that are investing in in Africa and South Africa. And I think you’ll find that we have more and more that ask for for sales enablement, especially because it’s quite popular around the world. So I’m hoping there’s no influence that comes from outside in over time.

Unknown Speaker
And I hope so too,

The Collaborator
I also think it’s really important for enablement to represent, to represent to be part of the community. So I’m hoping and what I mean by that is, I’m hoping that as it takes shape, and Africa, South Africa and the rest, that we see it taking on a different sort of flair, or a different sort of field that’s more appropriate for where what the businesses are doing, what the industries look like. And I bet we all learn a lot from what happens there too. So I’m super excited.

Dave Nel
And I just want to say, I mean, our, our chapter here in in South Africa, we’ve got to probably call reasons for existing. The first one is is thought leadership among sales enablement practitioners. But the second one is, is ready to give back to to the local community. So if you want to join our chapter, we’ve got this concept that you have to be coaching a local salesperson who wouldn’t normally get coaching. So we want to make sure that we we also make a difference in the probably more rural communities or communities that don’t get access to the same kind of leadership that that we do.

The Collaborator
Yeah, I love that. I love that so much. Anyway, let’s dive into more more about sales enablement and what you’re up to, um, tell us a little bit about, you know, the number of sellers you’re supporting, what your team looks like, and so on and so forth. Sure.

Dave Nel
So we are a team of one but we’re at Community of many so you know, I, I think of sales enablement for me is really bringing together a community of your people in the business who support your sellers at the end of the day. And so, you know, while while it’s it’s me and me alone, and I certainly have the support of my bigger community, which includes marketing, my inbound sales team, our technical learning team, all the sales leaders in the business and product development content creators. So if you take those all together, it’s a it’s a big team. And but but if you just look at me, it’s it’s it’s this so man on his own for now. And, yeah, I think I think it’s, it’s really about pulling together a community around your sellers. And when you asked how many sellers we’ve got, we’ve got about 470, in our business, much bigger in the bigger bank, but in the air that I’m in is about 470. And those are supported by 34, I think is the exact number today, sales leaders or sales coaches, as I’m trying to call them these days.

The Collaborator
Now, and you’re really touching on something that I think we all struggle with is so many people that I talked to, it’s a team of one, and you’re supporting, you know, hundreds, and you know, a lot of times multiple hundreds of sellers and their leaders and all that. But you you said a spot on in my opinion, Dave, you’re looking at it as a community that you can collaborate with, to bring value to the to the sellers in your business, and you’re looking to facilitate all of those activities taking place, which is which is awesome. How are you getting anything done? You know, getting into a little bit more details? Do you have any tips or or sharing about what you’re doing?

Dave Nel
Yeah, it was very difficult. And you’re not funny enough, the whole Cogan crisis has been a blessing in disguise, because we’ve got five regions around South Africa. So I don’t think I was ever at home, I was constantly traveling around working with people. And then all of a sudden, you you didn’t have a choice, you had to engage with people, people digitally. So you know, that has definitely shifted things. But I think first and foremost, and it’s not my job alone, which is quite nice. It’s my my role with the sales leaders to really get their sellers to the point where they are, are outperforming so you know, while we have 470, so sellers, we have 34 leaders, and that’s really where we are trying to focus as much of my time is is is, you know, enabling through them, if I can call it that, that helps a lot. And, and then of course, we are starting to leverage more digital platforms. So you know, the reinforcement and the constant upskilling. There’s some really nice platforms that are out there that you don’t have to do it all yourself. And I think people also want to learn in short, sharp, bite sized chunks these days, no one wants to be pulled into a room and trained for three days. Oh,

The Collaborator
my god, no, no. I mean, first thing they do is they pull up their phones and they start ignoring the training is horrible.

Dave Nel
Unless you ban the phones at the beginning of the of the training I have

The Collaborator
to do you have to say put the phones at the desk or on the floor or whatever, but don’t have them. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. That’s something so smart, though, that I didn’t want to skip over did. And I know I preached this and I did a session with the sales enablement society. I did a webinar with them two or three months ago, whenever it was talking about really amplifying your efforts by working closely with the sales managers to drive adoption and impact and all of that, and that sounds spot on with what you’re doing. Did you have any challenges getting them on board with partnering with you to make it happen? Or any any anything interesting there? Um, you know, personalities?

Dave Nel
Yeah, well, there’s 34 unique personalities. And then we have to deal with me, which is a is a unique personality amongst

Unknown Speaker
the challenge today.

Dave Nel
Yeah, I’m sure they would all tell you that. I think, you know, I look at the culture of our organization as a relationship based culture. So that really does make things a lot easier. And probably the thing that we did the most is we always tied back to performance. So anything that we do any intervention that we do any work that we’re trying to do with a leader, we make it really clear, how does this change the performance of my individual and ultimately relates to revenue because if you can’t do that, I think you’re going to struggle with by and you know, I always think like slow down to speed up take a lot of time to process. How does this in a And the result that we that we want. That’s probably the best way to get people to embody or be on your side. I guess when it when it comes to any initial smart?

The Collaborator
Yeah. So smart, tie it to the business metrics tied to the leaders metrics, what they care about, and they’re going to pay attention to what you’re talking about, because

Dave Nel
it’s going to help them. Absolutely, yeah. We’re also very lucky that we, because we don’t I mean, I wouldn’t call it a massive leadership team. So 34 is not not, you know, too big. And what you do is you meet your leaders where they are. So you’ve got different leaders at different levels, different leaders have different skill sets. Ultimately, we want to get them all to at least a certain space. But they all speak different languages. And they’re all they’ve all got their different things that motivate them. So yeah, that’s but that’s the fun part. That’s why I love bringing in the coaching elements, isn’t everything I do.

The Collaborator
Yeah, and the fact that you’re working with people that it’s human to human interaction, it’s not simply I don’t mean simply to lessen it. But you can write a computer program, I started my life as a as an engineer, you could write a computer program that does that runs perfectly every time. But you start talking to people, you can’t take the same approach and expect the same outcomes. No, you cannot make fun and exciting. Let me let me ask you this date. Certainly in the 34 people, you had at least a couple that’s a date go away. And I’m not asking you to name names. But I’ll give you How have you tried to overcome that kind of objection? Beyond meeting them where they are beyond the metrics? Yeah, so

Dave Nel
we’ve had one or two which have been a little bit less likely to shift and no one said go away, I guess. Which is probably a good thing. But I think there’s there’s two things that that you really need to do. The first one is, you’ve got to reward your leaders, for taking up the role of a sales coach. So that was a big shift. You’ve got to make a lot of individuals right, then then then for them, you know, anything that can help me do that they’re willing to embrace it. And I think the other thing is, I’m not those leaders leader, right? I am, I am the appear, and I’m a person who is there to help them. So what you actually have to do, I’m going up the hierarchy is you actually need to get their leaders to to buy into what you’re doing with the sales coaches. Because when it comes from both sides, right, it comes from me, and it comes from the leader, you’re much more likely to get to get people to say yes, but again, I honestly, john, we spend so much time working on how does it tie back to the deliverables and the goal of the business, and that we really haven’t had that much pushback to

The Collaborator
you. Amazingly, in my opinion, smarter approach by really targeting the leaders, targeting as high up as you can, which always helps with adoption and pushing the concept down. So there’s so many great things that you’ve done, that it feels like it’s made your life a little bit easier,

Dave Nel
as it were a little bit easier. We did one other thing which I would highly recommend to anyone who is starting a sales enablement function, or potentially trying to do anything around sales coaching, is we actually just went to the source. And we asked the 470 sales people, what do you expect from your leader? Like we ask them, you know, in order for you to be successful in your role, what do you want? Every single one said, I need my leader to be a coach. So when you when you show the leader, what the team is asking for, you know, you also again, get it from both sides, you get it, you get it up, down, and then you get it, you get it bottom up. It’s it’s kind of hard to say no.

The Collaborator
No, that’s wonderful, though, too, because they’re not saying no, because you’re helping them achieve their goals. And they’re not saying no, because you’re showing them that that’s what their team needs to succeed to. So yeah, exactly. That’s the right way to do it, man. You know, I know for you, I mean, like you said, You’re a team of one. But you’re collaborating across this community, the supporting structure around you. But you had to come in to this role and create this function from scratch, I think. How on earth did you start going down this path, which is a really good path. How did you how did you start to get here?

Dave Nel
Yeah, I think what we did was, look as a business we had said, we I think every business says this is nothing new. We want to increase our turnover and we want to increase our share of wallet, we want to do more. And and when we did that, I think the first thing that we did as a business is we said well how do we do that? And and what became Key was a sales enablement was one of the strategic objectives. So that’s quite nice because as soon as you got buy in from your your senior leaders, it does make things easier. And I don’t know if I would go any further until I had that. The second thing that I think you’ve got to do is you Yeah, go ahead, please don’t interrupt

The Collaborator
you. Because I I do I want to repeat that point, you’re not going to succeed unless you get senior leadership support. So if you’re trying to start sales enablement from the bowels of the beast, or you know, undercover without your leadership support, you’re going to have, at best minimal success. So that’s an important point that I didn’t want to lose sight up. Yeah.

Dave Nel
It’s always going to be something else, it’s always gonna be the other thing that I have to do, right, as opposed to one of the strategic objectives of the business. And the truth is that if you’re running a business that is in sales, which most people are, if not empowering your sales people to be better today than what they were yesterday is not one of your strategic objectives. I would, I would wonder why not? Unless you’ve really got them exactly where you need them. Which would be wonderful, wouldn’t it? But no one has that. Yeah, I

The Collaborator
don’t think that planet that that universe.

Dave Nel
Yeah, not unless you write the computer program for it, like you said, then yeah,

The Collaborator
maybe I really interrupted you, but that was not as good leadership.

Dave Nel
Yeah, I was gonna, I was gonna say the other thing that, that I think we spent a lot of time on as a business is really processing what is our sales philosophy? So you know, we spend so much time with that our senior leaders saying, why do we when not not product wise, but actually from a sales process? What makes us different? Obviously, I can’t share that, that with you today. But knowing that, and made sales enablement that much easier, because once you know, your sales philosophy, you know exactly what you need to build around in order to make that come to life. So that, you know, yeah, people can’t question it, like, you know, if yourself if, and this is not ours, but if your sales philosophy was death by numbers and script based, then you would know exactly what you needed to, to build behind it to support it. So, you know, again, my advice would always be do that first, before you even think about what are we going to teach? And where are we going to go? And how are we going to enable and what are we going to make better? It’s in the in the vein of what, in order to achieve what? So define that that first really helped us?

The Collaborator
Really good advice. Really good advice, Dave. Thank you. I know, um, I know that you’re big on coaching, you’ve been you’ve talked about how you’re working with a sales leaders and all that, and I’ll share with the audience, something else that Dave told me before we jumped on that he actually has dived, dive, dope, whatever, recharges your cages. And that probably preparing you a little bit for your enablement role, trying to bring these leaders in and coach and all of that. Yeah, I know, bad joke. I’m a dad. Um, how are you, you know, beyond what you’ve already shared? And if there’s nothing more, that’s okay, Dave, but any other tips in terms of how you’re approaching that coaching, making the change and how you’re measuring? Because I’m interested in that? What are you seeing for measurements and outcomes from the efforts you’re taking?

Dave Nel
So so I think I would take two steps, there’s, I mean, coaching is my thing. I’m a ICF, accredited coach, I love it. And I mean, a coach, and it’s pure sense, right? Never ever gives opinions and never jumps in. We’ve done it slightly differently. And I think what you’ve got to do, first of all, is you’ve got to find the coaching methodology that works for your business, because there’s several different kinds of coaching methodologies out there. And we found one that, that we really felt resonated with the culture of the business and the way that we treat our people and the way that we expect our leaders to lead. So if you can do that, it does make things a lot easier. And like I said, there’s so many different ones out there, you’ve got to find the one that that works for you. You try

The Collaborator
to go examine a whole bunch of them, or did you have one already in mind when you came back,

Dave Nel
but we looked at a few and, and and to be honest also because I because I’m a person of one. And you know, we did it with with the key stakeholders in the business. So we involved our HR people, we involved our organizational development people involved our leaders, because otherwise it becomes a tell

The Collaborator
mark, if you’re a team of 1000 get that level of buy in across the business. So that’s

Dave Nel
what made life easier for us as we believe in a coaching approach to leadership. So, you know that that wasn’t that wasn’t difficult, but finding the framework. And I think, again, what what’s really important is this is sales coaching, not coaching. And so, you know, we were quite relentless around the fact that what we’re doing is a framework to sales coaching, it’s not coaching, just leadership in general, or taking people on a journey, this is specifically to help them improve their share of wallet and their performance when it comes to selling. So, you know, if you can’t tie it back to selling it was out. And otherwise you can focus Yeah,

The Collaborator
awesome focus.

Dave Nel
Yeah, you can coach something other things, in terms of metrics, you know, what we prefer to measure is the inputs versus the outputs. So I’m not really interested in the end result that will take care of itself. And the time, and we’re much more relentless about is, what is it what that you’re doing when you’re coaching? And, you know, so really giving proper feedback to your coaches around? Oh, did you get that right? Did you get that wrong? You know, dissecting every coaching conversation, as opposed to saying, you know, did that person hit their target? Because the target will take care of itself? At the end of

Unknown Speaker
the chart? Yeah. Yeah, it

Dave Nel
can be it can be a bit of a distraction. Now, that doesn’t mean we never look at the scoreboard. I mean, we look at the scoreboard, let me tell you, I focus a lot more on what we’re doing on the field, versus constantly looking at whether we’re headed behind. And I think that’s quite, it’s quite helpful.

The Collaborator
Yeah, no, no, it makes it. I think that’s, that’s a good way to look at it. I looked at look at the score to a metaphor, and we all do, but I think you’re right. If you trust the program, you trust the process. It’s it’ll work itself out. And when it doesn’t, then you go back to figuring out why then, but trust the process that makes you know, let me ask you this, I want you to take a second to brag. Okay, the most amazing thing that you view to accomplish in terms of an event in your current role, what’s the one thing they like? Damn, I am so proud of this. And I think others can learn from it. What What is that?

Unknown Speaker
I’m like,

Dave Nel
No, no, no, no, I The thing that I think is the the thing that makes me the happiest that it makes me smile and an excited is the way that we’ve been able to change the I think we’ve been able to reinvigorate leadership amongst our leaders, how they lead their teams like it’s, it’s really exciting to see that we haven’t been we haven’t lost the human connection with our people. And, and we’ve given the leaders confidence to really be the sales culture. So they can, I hope they would say to you that they come to work, a lot more excited and a lot more empowered to really make a difference in the lives of their of their salespeople. And that’s, that’s exciting. Look, we’re not we’re not all the way there yet, and we certainly haven’t won won the race. But but it’s, it’s, it’s only been a couple of months and feels like a lot longer. And it’s really started to pay fruits, which which I’m excited about. It’s funny how we landed a lot of this just before we can finish the the rollout process just before COVID hit. And it’s actually really enabled a lot of our leaders to to lead remotely, and to take up coaching in a different format, which, which thank goodness, we did it. I don’t know, it was it was luck, I guess.

The Collaborator
Hockey on your timing, do you think? Do you think when the world gets back to whatever, whatever that future state is that we’ll call normal in the future? Do you think that a lot of what they’re learning now, by doing this remote evil will come will come back in terms of how they approach it even in person?

Dave Nel
You know, the funny thing is, is I’ve been doing a lot of processing with our sales guys around, oh, my goodness, I can’t meet clients face to face, you know, I can’t be out there and hitting the streets and doing the things that I was doing the same thing with my leaders. I can’t go physically with to a meeting. You know, what does that mean? And actually, what we’ve done is we found when you break it back down to the core principles of what coaching is and what selling is, nothing has changed. And if anything, it’s probably more important now to have quite a bit of structure and thought before you do something. And I’m hoping I don’t think the world goes back to normal by the way that well goes back to previous so I say I am

The Collaborator
doesn’t go back to exactly,

Dave Nel
exactly so so I hope you guys come out the other side stronger and a lot more equipped to face the next level. Whatever that’s going to be, who knows? If you’ve got that crystal ball, please send it down to South Africa. I’d like to, I’d like to

The Collaborator
I have that crystal ball. I would be in Las Vegas playing poker right now and tired? I don’t know. I don’t know. I do not have you know, Dave, this has been wonderful. Is there anything that I should have asked you about the like, john, we didn’t talk about this, and I just want to share it?

Unknown Speaker
Um, no, I

Dave Nel
think I look, I think the the one thing is I obviously work in the in the banking industry. And and I think we, hopefully you’ve got lots of lots of people who listen to this, who are also in quite established industries. And think i think that’s often a challenge when you’re trying to do something new in a business that that’s, you know, been around for hundreds of years and has got a way of doing things. And again, My only advice would be to people is to always link it back to performance, if you can show clearly how what you’re doing changes the bottom line, and I think you’re more likely to get the buy in that, that you need to move things forward. So yeah, I think other than that, I would love if you’ve got people who want to think about things or process I always love talking to people through their problems. So anyone who wants to chat about it, I’m always happy to share experiences and and connect with people around the world.

The Collaborator
In your day now. Even you just Dave now, that’s just a no, that’s

Dave Nel
me. Yeah,

The Collaborator
I would definitely encourage people to reach out to Dave because it’ll

Dave Nel
all just let me know when you’re in Cape Town for a drink of wine. That’s awesome. That’s awesome. You know what, I

The Collaborator
have to ask you one more thing, because the other thing we got on live, everybody and I talked about lucrin Bridge, you had shared your shark diving story, and you told me how you would take in a friend on a what 40 things you got to do in South Africa. One thing that you guys did they were like, Well, that was fun. Or just Jeez, I’m glad I made him do it. And not maybe

Dave Nel
he did so many things. I think yeah, I think they actually have been to jumpit we’re making him should I say not me, bungee jump of blow cons bridge was was really, really cool. And the Yeah, I think the other thing that we did was the shark cage diving. Climbing Table Mountain which often people don’t don’t do even though I live here. So it’s it’s an absolutely phenomenal country. There are so many things that it’s hard to pick just one that’s unfair to say.

The Collaborator
That’s why I didn’t share that question with you ahead of time because I want to find out the one thing

Dave Nel
beautiful visit the beautiful wind farms. We have some phenomenal wind farms here, which is just amazing to do on a weekend.

The Collaborator
I did not know that. Yeah. All right. I’m coming to South Africa and you’re gonna be gone one day. Thank you so much. Thank you crane rescue day. Thanks, everybody for listening in.

Unknown Speaker
All right.