Q1: Please tell us who you are and what you do
Barry Cooper , business and marketing development officer Brooklands Further Education College.
Q2: What made you go into the industry sector you work in?
By accident, I was made redundant from quite a high-powered job in sales at BT and was searching for something a little bit unusual, so I ended up in the education market.
Q3: Why did you choose a sales career?
I wanted to be better than the salespeople that I had met, providing more empathy, a better customer relationship/experience and a better method of closing the customer. I have sold cars, floor coverings, fabrics for train seats, beds for hotels, distribution, mobile telephones, fixed-line telephones, solar panels and now education, so I am kind of fairly rounded in my style!
Q4: How often does your company hold sales or target-setting meetings? Monthly for meetings and twice yearly for target setting.
Q5: What sets your employer apart from the rest?
Free rein: I am the only person in the college that has had commercial experience and they marvel at every piece of business that I bring to the table.
Q6: Do you feel your company/industrial sector offers sufficient high-earning potential?
No, definitely not, although they love the approach, they have hard and fast rules about earning potential. I get a basic salary and a pat on the back for any business that I bring in! The college's reason being is that, if you give one person commission, you have to give everyone the same.
Q7: What do you see as the main key to successful sales?
Tenacity, understanding the clients needs, empathy, not a hard close, trust and regular follow-ups.
Q8: What was the most useful sales training/experience you have had?
At Heuga UK I was a 23-year-old that had no on-road sales experience and the company taught me how to be effective and efficient as a field sales exec, mainly from the man mentioned below.
Q9: Who has been your biggest influencer and why?
A man called Alan Verrinder who was my boss and mentor at the first large company that I sold for. He had a great style and was very patient with a person that was a bit wet behind the ears! But he kept faith and I went on to be a national account manager at the age of 28.
Q10: What is the most memorable sale you have ever made?
To Fiat UK. After 18 months of negotiations and going backwards and forwards to Milan, I finally got all the ducks in a row and they signed the deal; it was worth about £1.3M.
Q11: What’s the funniest sales situation you can share with SI?
I once had a PA who was asked to type a letter in my absence (this was before PCs). The letter was to a buyer (whose first name was Angus) of a very large department store in London. I was about to close a deal on a very large order worth tens of thousands of pounds. However, when the letter was typed the PA missed out the "n" in Angus and sent it to Anus instead. The customer was not amused but we got the order after some massive sucking up to him by yours truly.
Q12: What is the best part and worst part of your job?
Best part – bringing a deal to the table that you know will bring in revenue for years to come. Worst part – looking at my pay cheque at the end of the month and thinking what I would have earned had it been a commercial company.
Q13: And finally, is there anything you'd like to let the sales profession know about you, your career, or your opinion on the sales world?
Keep trying, don't give up, when one door closes and all that. People these days are sophisticated and do not like or want a double glazing type of salesperson to sell to them. Keep your customers close and your non-customers closer, you never know what might happen in the future!
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