Macfarlane Group is the UK’s largest distributor of packaging materials with an annual turnover in excess of £130 million.

They operate from 13 regional distribution centres each run by a Regional Business Manager who has P&L responsibility.  Macfarlane is a heavily sales orientated business and the role of the RBM is not only to run their branch but also to recruit, train and motivate their sales staff to a consistently high standard.

The Challenge

As with many businesses, it is easy for managers to get bogged down with daily routines, meetings, emails, fire-fighting, personnel issues, etc. Moreover, the management team need a consistent approach to building successful sales teams and for sharing best practice. Without this, they will miss opportunities, lose good people and have a disjointed approach to maximising sales results.

The Programme

Working together with Macfarlane Regional Business Managers we developed the Macfarlane Sales Standards. This includes fifty standards that define the way that successful Macfarlane salespeople operate.

These standards brought together the vast knowledge and skills of the management team and PiP Associates.  This was then collated into a workable manual for managers to use in coaching and developing their team.

Managers then worked on their time management and committed to spending one field day per month with each of their salespeople. We also developed a Field Day Review document to enable constructive feedback to be given at the end of each coaching day. We also trained managers on their coaching techniques and developed a plan for the delivery and sign off of the Macfarlane Sales Standards.


Macfarlane now have a structured approach for the development of sales excellence. The management team have participated in the development of these standards and hence have ownership of the content.

This programme is even used as part of the recruitment process, demonstrating that Macfarlane is committed to the development of sales excellence. Every person in the Macfarlane sales team now has a confidential and personalised manual which they work through during structured coaching days with their manager.

The result is that Macfarlane now has demonstrably the most successful, well organised and well trained sales force in packaging distribution. This success has been reflected in their results. It is not coincidental that since implementation of the Macfarlane Sales Standards, profits have increased four fold to £5 million.

“The Macfarlane Sales Standards that you developed for us mean that everyone understands the skill requirements for successful selling and it has given managers the tools to coach and develop their teams in professional selling and account management techniques.”

John Glazier
Regional Director , Macfarlane

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