Jun 11th 2019
Meet Alex. The Sales Pro.
Alex has over ten years experience in Sales including managerial roles that have had a global remit. Having returned from Amsterdam she accepted the role of Head of Sales at Tempo.
Hear about her experience of her career in Sales so far including her experience and top tips on managing teams.
What interested you in starting a career in Sales?
I didn’t intend to get a job in sales when I finished University and moved down to London – I thought I wanted to do marketing. When recruiters suggested I consider Sales, I started to look into it. I liked that your hard work would be rewarded, both financially and in career progression. I also really enjoyed the atmosphere – everyone seemed ambitious and enthusiastic to make every day a success.
Having been in Sales for over 10 years what has kept you motivated in maintaining a Sales career?
I always like to push myself and my teams to be better, and there is no limit to that! You can always set new benchmarks for success and improve. When I first started selling, it was so exhilarating every time I won a new client. As time went on, helping train and develop my team was my main motivation, as was taking on new challenges in different verticals and different countries through my career.
Is a career in Sales what you expected? Has anything surprised you?
I found that I was given a lot of responsibility very quickly, which was exciting but unexpected! The market was divided between the Sales team, and I was solely responsible for mapping my market, sourcing new clients, engaging them in conversation, booking & attending meetings, closing the deal and then account managing them. It’s an end-to-end process of strategically planning and then winning new customers who you can genuinely help.
What parts of your skill set or personality has helped you succeed, or enjoy, Sales?
Positivity and ambition definitely helps – you need to believe you are going to succeed, even when times are tough! You can’t dwell on disappointments, you need to display resilience to achieve. Communication is also important – listening equally as much, if not more, than having the “gift of the gab”.
Having taken on a series of managerial roles and now as Head of Sales, what advice can you give for scaling a Sales team effectively?
I’d always rather scale in the right way, so it’s important to understand your culture and what you are trying to achieve. Sometimes the pressure of growth makes you lower your standards and make bad decisions, which can disrupt the balance of the team and negatively impact the dynamic. It’s important to remember to look after your existing team as well, however much you want to grow.
What skills do you think are key to managing and motivating a Sales team?
I think it’s important to be authentic and honest as a leader, and to make sure your team knows you care. Sales can be tough, and most of my teams have been entry-level so they need support and clarity in what is expected of them. I want to enjoy my work, and create a culture which is fun and where all successes are celebrated!
What do you look for in Sales candidates when hiring into your team?
Someone with drive and determination. Strong communication skills are essential. It’s useful to have proven resilience as working in Sales can be emotionally draining when it feels like your hard work isn’t paying off, but exceptionally rewarding when things go your way.
Why do you think Sales has a bad reputation compared to other functions like marketing?
In the media, you tend to see Boiler Room or Wolf of Wall Street style sales environments where it’s effectively using manipulation to get what you want, and everyone is focused on making money with no thought to the morality of what you are doing. The opportunity you might have in real life to engage with Sales people is often estate agents or car salespeople which can be a very unpleasant experience. My experience of working in Sales has been completely different – very meritocratic and positive, with healthy competition rather than “dog eat dog”.
What advice would you give to those considering a career in Sales, or looking to make their next career move into Sales?
Sales in the right environment can be a fantastic place to start or further your career. You learn a lot about business generally and how to engage with different people, you master negotiation and objection handling. It’s also lots of fun! At its core, Sales is finding a problem and helping to solve it. When you can create that win/win, it is a wonderful feeling.
And lastly, share a highlight from your career so far!
One of my proudest moments was when my Amsterdam Sales team hit our annual target on the last day of the financial year. They had been asked if they wanted an individual or team incentive, and chose to have a team goal. Watching them work together, never give up and smash their number at the last minute was very satisfying! We went to celebrate in a Michelin star restaurant together a few weeks later – it was great to have such a shared feeling of success.
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