Staying the Distance

Andrew Haynes, Senior director of TransUnion Credit Bureau, speaks on the most important lessons he’s learnt.


Vital stats

  • Andrew Haynes, 50
  • Designation: Senior director, commercial information solutions
  • Company: TransUnion Credit Bureau
  • Sales Team: 20 national field-based sales staff and four managers, 16 telesales staff and three managers
  • Offering: Credit and risk management information with an emphasis on the B2B market and trade credit. Credit information is also provided for the SME market and consumers.

The most important sales lesson I have learnt:

Is that you need to make sure you truly understand what your customer needs and not what they think they need. Many will tell you they want to cut costs, when what they truly need to do is improve efficiencies, for example. To identify their needs properly, you have to understand what drives them, what they are trying to achieve, and what their motives are. That will enable you to be really innovative in providing a solution.

My colleagues and mentors have taught me that sales leadership comes down to two things:

80% application and 20% inspiration. You can show and tell people how to do things, but if you cannot inspire them you will fail. Inspiration is the ability to engender passion, confidence, belief and a sense of competitiveness. The number is the number, but you have to get your team to understand why you want to grow by x% if you want their support and commitment.

My favourite quote is about winning and losing.

American football coach Vince Lombardi, said, “We didn’t lose the game; we just ran out of time.” It’s a great way to cope with the notion of ‘failure’ versus ‘success’. It’s about big picture thinking and staying the course.

The best advice I ever got was about sincerity.

Be totally honest. Things can go really wrong when people try to put something forward that will not work, or when they try to divert attention away from a weakness. If you want to build sustainable relationships, always be truthful with clients about your capabilities.

My leadership style has changed over time.

I was mentored in a rather autocratic manner which influenced my early leadership approach. Now I am far more consultative and inclusive, which has empowered the people around me. I remain the decision-maker, but I have a team who are not afraid to disagree. It’s a positive way to manage people and get the best out of them. It also shows respect – if you are prepared to have someone on your team, you must respect them; if you don’t, you should not work with them.

My personal mantra is always have a positive outlook.

I believe that what I do makes a difference. The products we offer help our customers to do business profitably.

To build a great sales team, start by recruiting the right people.

Decide what type of person you are looking for and ensure you are able to correctly profile them. It may take longer to go through the rigour of finding the right resources, but you will benefit in the long run and the revenue will show you that you chose correctly.

It’s not only about the ease with which they can engage with the customer, but also about their cognitive ability to understand problems and present solutions. Continuous training and support are essential, as is getting out into the field with your people. Finally, remember that sales people are driven by recognition and reward.