- Comfort Rabali
- Designation: Head of Sales: Diabetes Care Management Centre, South Africa Sub-Sahara
- Company: Roche Diabetes Care
- Career summary: After studying a BSc at Wits University, Rabali became a sales representative for pharmaceutical, Elli Lilly and Company. In 2006 he was promoted to regional sales manager at Elli Lilly. In 2012 Rabali became the head of sales at Roche Diabetes Care Management.
- Sales force size: 30 sales executives, 7 sales managers and 2 key account managers.
What’s your sales leadership style?
As a leader I believe it is important to invest in the development of others and so I take a servant leadership approach to leading my team. An essential part of this is ensuring that your teams are provided with the right tools and sales training. I see my role as one where I need to assist my sales managers and executives by removing obstacles to reach their sales goals.
How has your leadership style contributed to the success of your team?
Part of being a leader also centres around being able to inspire your team and helping them to achieve what they may not be able to, or believe that they could achieve on their own. Investing in your salesforce’s development also drives engagement.
I am very involved personally in the development of training and mentorship programmes. Because of this approach, I have a highly engaged sales team who are motivated to achieve and believe in making a difference.
What makes your team successful?
Our team firmly believes in what they stand for and the purpose of our company. We don’t just sell products; instead, we are making a difference in our communities and saving lives. Because of this, everything that our teams do is seen as something greater than just a sale.
What’s the best business advice you’ve received?
You’re only a successful sales person if your customer wins. It shouldn’t be about you as a sales person, but rather about your customer — their needs and whether you are able to assist them in delivering a solution that can meet this.
Your greatest learning
Sometimes you can become so good at selling your solution that you fall in love with it. When you become so enamoured with your solution you may focus only on articulating its great features and benefits and fail to realise your customer may not actually want your solution, or it doesn’t fully cater for their specific needs. Don’t fall in love with your product so much that you are blind to your customers’ requirements.
Which business lessons have proved valuable?
- Support your teams: Give your staff the tools of the trade that they need to fully deliver on their work.
- Training is essential: Don’t just focus on product training, but also provide training with your salesforce to assist them in co-creating solutions with the customers. Train your staff to have consultative skills so they can assist clients to understand ‘how’ your solution will solve their needs — not just ‘why’.
Related: What Amazing Bosses Do
What’s the worst sales mistake you’ve made?
We had a product that was a first-in-class with superior technology and we really believed that it was the best product for our customers — but it wasn’t selling well. As a sales team we were not willing to change the offering because we so firmly believed in our product. This was a costly mistake which impacted our market penetration and our sales. Once we realised our mistake, and changed the solution to best fit our customer’s needs, the sales started to immediately take off.
What is your personal mantra?
Strive for excellence in everything that you do. Excellence must become a habit. Recognise that not every action will bear a successful result but if you continually strive for excellence then it will become a habit.