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Our Masterclass in South Yorkshire this month was all about sales, that lifeblood of any company, and we had a fascinating panel with a wide variety of experience. The most experienced was Graham Honeyman, the CEO of Sheffield Forgemasters, one of Sheffield’s oldest and most famous companies, Adrian Holmes founder of Employment & Skills Group (ESG) with 850 staff at its peak and Melanie Oldham the founder and CEO of Bobs Business Ltd which is a member of Connect Yorkshire.


The experience of each panel member affected their thoughts on maximising sales. Forgemasters are big ticket, custom made almost wholly export sales, Adrian Holmes built ESG with hard driving sales and his recent experience has been helping SMEs grow sales and Bobs Business was started by Melanie Oldham 7 yrs ago so she was “hands on” sales wise.

Value Propositions

The absolute essential ingredient is your belief and enthusiasm for what you do. Be passionate about what you do and take care and pride in what you do and the money will follow. Instil and pass on your passion and values to your staff.

The Owners Role

The owner must sell the products/services; he/she must be leading the sales effort and monitoring all stages of the sale process. You are the driver.

Document each stage of the sale process so you know what works well and what doesn’t to help you improve the sales process, and possibly lead you to suggest training opportunities.

Nurture your sales people.

Social Media

Social media is useful but at the end of the day people buy from people. LinkedIn is best provided you exercise discipline when using it. Delete the irrelevant people and concentrate on those that might buy. Quality over quantity is key.

Your message must be consistent throughout social media and by email, do not let your staff create their own messages.

Use LinkedIn for building relationships and sharing information. It helps keep existing clients who are much more valuable than new clients.


Listening to what the target has to say about their business is vital, then provide the solution.

Make sure you find the right person for your product/service at the buyers organisation and tailor your offer accordingly.

At ESG Adrian used telesales both by an internal dept and by external call centres, door to door, email, letters, anything and everything!

Pay and Perks

None of the panel provided cars, just the HMRC approved mileage allowance.

Forgemasters don’t pay sales people a commission, they are more technical than sales; its a communal effort and rewards are throughout the company.

Bobs Business pay commision to sales people and in addition there is a group bonus.

Nick Butler