With a livestock solutions business strongly leveraged to dairy, Tru-Test, has been challenged by the industry downturn as much as anyone. Shane Nolan, the company’s national Sales Manager for weighing, EID and fencing solutions, joined Sales Syndicate’s monthly support and development sessions about a year ago and says the benefits to date have been unquestionable.
Shane Nolan had been looking for ways to upskill when his General Manager suggested contacting Sales Syndicate. He was then the South Island Sales Manager, mainly focused on retail sales at a time when the dairy industry was diving after a string of boom years. More than a year down the track he says there have been plenty of positives, including promotion to NZ Sales Manager, and recovering revenues within his portfolio during challenging times
Auckland-based Tru-Test exports its locally made equipment to over 100 countries, with over 500 staff driving more than $150m in global revenue. Operating out of Christchurch, Shane heads one of three New Zealand sales teams. Reflecting on a year or so with Sales Syndicate, he says the monthly sessions have helped on multiple levels, and contributed to a sales curve that has been trending in the right direction following a challenging first six months. “In the back half of the year we had some really good results”, he says. “And while that was partially the market, there were certainly some things I picked up from Sales Syndicate that helped have an impact on that.” They included some streamlining of the sales process, getting the team focus right, and having more effective and meaningful team meetings.
He says as a South Island participant working in an agriculturally focused business, he was initially uncertain about getting up close and personal with other sales managers, but the contact has been invaluable. “Every industry thinks they are a bit different, but in actual fact it doesn’t really matter what industry you’re in. I’ve found that from sitting in this group and talking to people, we are all in completely different industries but have very similar challenges. We share a lot of stuff, including numbers, staff, and some personal things, but very quickly it becomes clear there is a level of trust within the group.” Shane says there are always areas to improve on and make gains. “I think that is something that has really come through from Sales Syndicate for me.”
Shane’s promotion came after a few months at Sales Syndicate, and says the sessions gave him more confidence in terms of team leadership. “It reinforced that some of things I was doing were really good, but other things came from bouncing ideas of others in the group.” Some subtle changes have been noticed, he says. “I think people have certainly noticed a difference in my approach and style, and there has been a lot of positive feedback about that.”
The environment Tru-Test operates in is still “extremely challenging”, but Shane says the turnaround in the second half of last year in terms of hitting sales targets has been pleasing. “I think we can credit some of that to the focus and processes we put in place as a result of discussions we had.” He says ideas and solutions are taken from discussions and applied to individual business situations. “The one on one sessions then tie it all together.” Shane says he wouldn’t do without the monthly catch-ups, and during times when budgets need to be kept very lean, the fact that his own management have agreed to keep funding the initiative means the value of the meetings is being noted from the top.