How and when did you start in sales and marketing?
My first ‘proper job’ was selling mobile phones at the Nokia store in Banbury. I’d recently quit sixth form, as although I did reasonably well at GCSE level, I just had no enthusiasm for the traditional education system and just couldn’t bring myself to commit to it in the way I needed to.
I got the job by literally walking around the shopping centre handing out printed CVs to every shop. The Nokia store didn’t even have a vacancy in the window, I was just keen to leave my CV with anyone and everyone, just in case.
It eventually paid off, I got a job with them and that was my introduction to ‘sales’.
I had no idea about sales at the point. To be fair, I didn’t have much of an idea about anything.
At the time, selling mobile phones was one of the few commission-based jobs you could have in a high street store. I made a sale on my first day. A £30 Nokia 1100.
That little buzz I had going home that day seemed to start something.
I spent 4 years or so in that job. The part I loved is that all sales were converted in to gross profit and loaded on to a national leader board for all the Nokia stores in the country.
If you were the highest selling person that day or that month, you’d have your picture on the front screen of everyone’s computer in every store! I loved it.
There weren’t many stores. 13 from memory, so about 50-70 staff. Split into 3 regions.
I worked my way up to a point where I was pretty obsessed.
I worked 6 days a week most weeks. (You weren’t allowed to do 7 days a week). I worked every Saturday because it was busier and had Monday’s off as they were quietest.
I never took more than 1 week of holiday every year because I wanted to be the top salesman every month and taking holiday was like suicide for that goal!
But it worked. I was top salesman for the region on a regular basis, and on the odd occasion I was top for the country. Which was no mean feat as the footfall in our store was a fraction of that in the bigger towns and cities!
All in all, I met some great people there and it was a good introduction to sales as it really spoke to the competitive streak in me! It also led me into the subsequent couple of jobs I had so I have a lot to owe to that place.
…and a lot to owe to my Dad who was the reason I was up at 8am handing out printed CVs every day until I found a job!
How did you start selling paint?
Almost immediately after the Brexit vote the industry I worked in took a nosedive because the value of the pound went through the floor.
Seeing as we dealt with large sums of money on an international level. This cost a lot of people a lot of money.
Cutbacks were made across the industry, and although I was reasonably successful in the role, it was by no means a job I excelled at and I was one of those redundancies.
I bounced around that industry for a while as I had some decent contacts still, but after a year or so I’d been made redundant from another position and needed a change of industry.
I signed up with a local recruiter and after a little while he paired me up with Andura.
Fair play to the recruiter. I had no experience in the industry, but he believed I could adapt my sales ability to most things and that I would be a good fit with the culture and ‘brand’ of Andura.
At time of writing, I’ve been with Andura for 2.5 years.
I won’t bore you with the ins and outs of everything I do there, but to sum it up Andura is a small team of great people, manufacturing and selling great quality products. Not much more you could ask for as a salesman!
They also afford me a pretty long leash to explore any opportunities I think could help the business. Of course, I had to earn that right with good sales figures, but it is still nice to work for a company like that.
How did you start giving sales and marketing advice to decorators?
A big part of the reason I love selling paint is because of the people I sell it to. Decorators, specialist coatings companies and independent merchants cover most of who I sell to and for some reason I seem to get on well with these people.
How successful you are in a sales role is very dependent on how your personality fits with your target customer. Of course, you can adapt to a certain degree, but to really excel its useful to naturally have common ground with your customers.
When you sell in a corporate environment, there is a maze of departments to get through, pointless meetings to have, minimum wage muppets who don’t want to even be doing their job, red tape, and people with all sorts of hidden agendas.
Decorators on the whole are great to work with.
If a decorator thinks your solution is a load of shit. They will tell you.
However, if they can see the value in what you are offering and think that the solutions you offer can help make their business more successful, they will try it.
The decorating industry is full of people who if they like something, they will do something about it.
Plus, I also like that if you’re being a prick, a decorator will tell you you’re being a prick. For some reason that doesn’t happen in boardrooms much and I really think it should!
Anyway, I digress…So, after a while (and thanks to a few chance encounters) I realised that decorators only really learn the practical side of the business and often don’t have time to learn the sales and marketing side of it.
I then decided that seeing as I’d spent over a decade in sales and I knew a bit about the decorating industry as well, I was in a good position to be able to offer sales and marketing advice to decorators.
Doing this has a mutual benefit for me and decorators as firstly, my advice should lead to decorators making more money and growing their businesses, and secondly it’ll give me exposure to a larger audience, which regardless of what I choose to sell in the industry, can only be a good thing! Win win I say.
What’s your favourite part of the job?
Having a ‘big’ day on sales. Every once in a while, you’ll have a perfect day. One of those days where seemingly everything you touch turns to gold. It might only happen once a year, or once every couple of years. Depends on the job and the situation. But those days are amazing! That massive spike in the graph. That day where every call you make gets answered and every sale gets closed.
That huge day that takes you from being worried about hitting target to thinking about what colour yacht you want! Ok, maybe not that extreme…but that’s what it feels like! Your mind starts running with a thousand new ideas of what is possible.
Like I say, they are rare.
You can get loads of very good days. But rarely a perfect day.
But that buzz you get driving home after a day like that is amazing. Plus, the confidence it brings can last for days more. It’s fully addictive!
What’s your least favourite part of the job?
It’s difficult, it’s full of rejection and I think 99% of sales people wish it didn’t exist.
I know I’m not great at it, but I also recognise how effective it is. So, it is probably the single area I work hardest on.
Trust me, I still have my days where I stare at the phone saying to myself ‘just pick it up and start dialling’
I also have days where I stumble over my words and completely mess the call up.
It happens. But I learn from each one.
If sales was easy, everyone would be doing it.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
I’ll try and avoid the usual ones here like flying and invisibility.
Perfect recall would be awesome. Basically, like the film ‘Limitless’. Which if you haven’t seen, stars Bradley Cooper and is worth a watch.
Essentially the film is the story of a man who is given these pills that ‘open up’ his brain so he can reach his full potential. Instead of using 15% of his brain he can use 100% of it. This means he can learn languages in a matter of hours, remember details of everything he has ever read or heard. Pick up on subtle emotional cues in other people.
Basically, I’d just love to be able to remember all the books I read and tv shows I watch. Sometimes I feel like it all just goes in one ear and out the other!
Tell us a funny story about a job:
The ‘sales team night out’ is often depicted in films as several blokes in suits closing a massive deal and then doing nothing but heavy drinking, cocaine and hookers until the sun comes up.
Well, whilst that might be the case for certain Wolf of wall street type companies, the vast majority of sales nights out they are reasonably tame.
However, one Saturday night after a particularly decent month a small team of us decided to go out on the town in fancy dress.
Now, by virtue of the fact I’ve told you we were in fancy dress, you can safely assume we weren’t going out for just one or two drinks.
I was still quite young at the time and wasn’t really a seasoned drinker.
Well at some point during the night, in a very drunken state my two managers (dressed as Bill and Ben the flower pot men I believe), decided that as the youngest member of the team I would have to work the Sunday shift.
Absolutely fine I said.
I’m young, I’m dressed as Elvis and I’m absolutely hammered in a town I don’t know very well. No need to think about it. I’ll be fine.
Well, the rest of the night is a bit fuzzy. The next clear memory I have is waking up face down on my mates’ floor, with a half-eaten kebab next to me. (We’ve all done it at least once!)
It was at this point I remembered we had gone straight out from work and because I hadn’t gone home as planned, I didn’t have a change of clothes.
So, at 9:30am one cold Sunday morning, a very hungover Elvis was walking through Banbury shopping centre about to try and sell mobile phones for 6 painfully long hours.
I don’t think I made much commission that day!
If you won the lottery tomorrow, what would be the first 3 things you’d do with the money?
The usual house, car and holiday would probably be the first 3. I’m undecided on the model of car I’d want first though. Probably an AC Cobra or a Jaguar E-Type.
After that I’d like to think I’d spend it on silly things to wind up my partner.
Nothing over the top, just regular practical jokes that would make her roll her eyes and call me a pillock.
If you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice to make you a better salesman, what would it be?
Never stop learning. Read books, go on courses, listen to podcasts. Whatever you do just keep pushing yourself to be a little bit better each day. It’s amazing how much a small improvement each day can add up to something massive.
Hope you enjoyed learning a bit more about me. If you did, I’d love it if you would sign up for my newsletter below and help me reach more and more decorators! Thanks!