Our anonymous interviewee is currently the managing director of a c. £140m turnover B2B organisation, leading teams of over 150 sales associates. Prior to the current MD role, our respondent managed various large sales teams within the B2B sector.
1. What have you focused on since joining the business?
I’ve focused on six main things:
- Increasing sales focus and excitement by rewarding and recognising success, increasing competition and ensuring results are made highly visible
- Reducing costs through process efficiencies and increased activity
- Removing management layers and tightening cost controls
- Improving customer experience and listening to our customers
- Developing powerful selling tools to enhance and promote value proposition via printed material, effective training and online tools
- Strengthening leadership and management team across key functions
2. How do you differentiate yourselves from the competition?
We differentiate through our peoples’ specialism, our professionalism and our activity. Training is a fundamental ingredient to sales success in terms of developing sales skills, working to consistent processes and ensuring sales associates are equipped with the knowledge and understanding to sell the many products and solutions we have available.
3. What has been the biggest challenge in your career to date?
The ongoing balance between driving sales growth and profitability in a very harsh economic environment continues to be a delicate balance. The key is to ensure continued investment in sales and marketing whilst having a tight control on all costs.
4. What are three qualities you look for when hiring sales professionals for your team?
Relationship building, tenacity and organisation.
5. What is your top tip for building and managing a high-performing sales team?
Focus on hiring the right people, train and support them, then drive activity through a defined and consistent approach.
6. Is retention still an issue in the current challenging economic climate? How do you retain your top performers?
We are managing to retain our talent by rewarding and recognising success and treating people fairly and consistently. It’s vital that reward schemes are linked to company objectives and drive overall company profitability.
7. What’s your advice to sales professionals looking to move up the career ladder, both into management roles and stand-alone high-performing sales roles?
Work hard, learn from other people, focus on your strengths, broaden your experience, but most of all, deliver great results consistently.
8. Progression into a business leadership position like yours is an ambition for a lot sales execs. What are the barriers to entry for sales people becoming MD?
Lack of experience across other disciplines, therefore I would urge people to take on new challenges away from pure sales to broaden that experience.
9. How have advances in technology and the advent of social media changed the way you and your teams perform?
The move away from printed material to e-marketing enables increased customer/prospect reach at lower costs. Technology also enables associates to have access to more information and quickly, which in turn can improve and speed up sales cycles.
10. What item could you not do without?
My iPad has enabled me to access information and people even quicker, I love it!