When I started in sales over 15 years ago I was fresh out of university and a bit apprehensive.
My first sales job, for global tool supplier Winzer Wurth, was to travel to meet construction professionals on their turf and sell them high volumes of low value products.
Potentially daunting, and as I struggled to make sales, it was hard work keeping my morale up. After a month or so on the job though I started to see where I was going wrong. I needed to listen more to my customers to understand the problems they faced.
I realised the key to sales success was simple: It wasn’t about my ability to spin people a yarn, but about attracting loyal customers by providing products they needed and a service they could rely on.
In the following three years at Winzer Wurth I received many accolades with this approach. I won Team Salesman of the Month Award, several times, which led to my selection as Regional Salesman for the South Award in 1999 and a place on the Management Training Scheme.
My potential was soon realised by Prima Systems, a Wurth customer, who brought me on board in July 1999 to head their trade sales. I quickly gained more knowledge about the construction industry and in five years my focus shifted to commercial sales.
This was a steep learning curve as it meant familiarising myself with building and health and safety regulations, as well as becoming an expert on the products and solutions we offered.
The more I learnt about the industry, the more my approach changed from straight forward ‘selling’ to providing solutions to problems, consultancy and advice. If the client needed a product or service, it was up to me to provide that whilst ensuring compliance.
When projects inevitably went from using PVCu in place of aluminium, or from curtain walling to window sections, my expertise became wider. I could not only advise on products, but could help clients make savings through value-engineering and looking at ‘best value’.
Viewing the wider picture
This shift in focus has been recognised with my latest promotion at Prima to asset partner. My role is to work alongside surveyors, project managers and asset managers to analyse and provide for their current stock issues. I cover repairs, upgrades and maintenance connected with PVCu and aluminium windows, doors and glazing.
The role involves visits to clients and project sites. As well as talking to surveyors and finance managers, I am now talking to asset managers and senior directors. I understand sales in the widest context and can support clients with strategy.
It’s a very different role to the one I started my career in, and it’s a very different economic landscape. But the lessons I learned early on hold firm. My role is about problem solving for clients, not turning them off with ‘sell sell sell” waffle, and I can’t wait to get started!
To contact Will:
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