Josh got to know the sales process in a part-time job. He says this work experience gave him a great advantage when it came to finding a full-time role. In today's interview, he shares some tips and insights on beginning a career in sales.
Name: Josh Pullen
Company: Hunts Office
Industry: Retail & Merchandising
What is your job: Workspace consultant
How long have you worked here? 18 months
University: University of Kent
Degree Subject: Sports Science
List A-levels: English language & literature, media studies, PE
1. What was your very first job?
My first job was working for Moss Bros as a suit tailor/suit salesperson.
2. What did you want to do when you were at school?
I wanted to become a professional athlete!
3. How did you find out about the industry?
I was lucky enough to be introduced by a friend. Prior to that, I didn't have any knowledge about the office furniture industry. 18 months later, I'm a compendium of knowledge!
4. How did you get there?
Working in sales previously whilst studying at university definitely gave me a head start. I had the advantage of knowing the general sales process, as well as having valuable experience on the customer service side of things.
5. What is a typical day like?
On a typical day, I walk to work, as I'm lucky enough to live just around the corner from Hunts. Once in and settled, I'll normally deal with new email leads before the phone starts picking up around mid-morning (a lead is a potential client and after receiving a new lead). I listen to the client's needs, putting together a full quote that contains the requested furniture specification and any layout or design aspects the client may need.
Once the deal has been finalised, I oversee the project until completion and ensure I provide an excellent after-sales customer experience. The rest of my day is a delicate balance of dealing with phone, email and web chat enquiries as well as finalising quotes for existing leads and resolving other miscellaneous customer queries.
6. What’s the best thing about your job?
The people. I work with a great bunch of people, and even if your day is a little monotonous, the people you work with can always make your day interesting!
7. What is the most challenging thing about your job?
Chasing up leads and understanding customer needs. They may not always know what they want, which sometimes requires additional clarification to avoid confusion down the line.
8. What advice do you have for people who want to do what you do?
It's really important to be as tenacious as possible, working hard and to jump at every opportunity that comes your way. I'd say that it's really valuable to get as much work experience under your belt whilst you can, employers definitely look favourably on this. You could start by getting in contact with companies you wish to work for to see if there are any available sales training programmes within the business.
If you do get through to a phone interview, prepare as much as possible (this goes for any interview!) by reading into sale strategies, how to communicate effectively etc. Treat it as a sales call - you're selling yourself to your prospective employer and they want to see that you've done your homework.
9. What things do you wish you’d known before starting your career?
Prior to starting your first full-time job, you're sometimes not aware of the myriad job roles out there, so don't settle. Over time, you'll understand in a professional setting what your skill set is, from there you can develop and progress. Don't be disheartened if the first job you have isn't the ideal role you want.
10. Where would you like to be in 5 years?
I'd like to progress to a more senior position within the office furniture industry, perhaps learning more of the design side of the business. My dream would be to be sailing off the coast of France in a couple of years time!
To learn more about careers in sales, check out our Retail & Merchandising Career Zone.
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