Staff Interviews – Sarah Nicholls
Welcome to the eleventh of our staff interviews! Today we’re talking to Sarah Nicholls, Sales Manager at Vital Certificates and one of our more competitive staff members! Sarah has been at the company for 2 and a half years, and now has her own Sales Office! Keep reading to find out what Sarah did before joining Vital Certificates and what she gets up to both inside and outside work.
So, Sarah, the first question I always ask – how are you?
I’m fine thank you!
So, let’s get down to business. When did you start working at Vital?
I started working for Vital just over two years ago now, it was the 2nd of January 2015.
And what were you doing before you got here?
I’d been a stay at home mum for four years actually. Going back, I had a video shop for a while in my early 20’s then went into advertising and worked my way up.
My time spent in advertising was incredibly rewarding as it was during the .com boom, companies were just starting to realise how effective advertising on the internet could be but didn’t know how to go about it and that’s where I came in as an answer to all those problems. The workloads were heavy and the pressure was intense but the financial rewards were excellent and I’ll never forget my time spent working in that period.
Everything I learned in advertising was in the workplace and I had many successes gaining promotions up to Sales Manager where I’d take responsibility for building successful sales teams and hitting targets.
That’s fantastic. What was it about that role that made you want to start working at Vital then?
My best friend Nicola Palmer was working for Vital as the Office Manager and she’d been encouraging me to come and work here for ages. She really thought I’d get on with the boss (Matt). Eventually a role did come up for a Business Development Manager which looked tailor made for me so I decided to apply. It seemed incredible to me that Vital had traded for six years without a sales team and had still been successful. This looked like a fantastic challenge and an amazing opportunity for me to put my mark on the role and to build a successful sales function within the company. I’d got loads of ideas and loads of enthusiasm to invest in Vital and couldn’t wait to get started.
Do you remember how your first interview went then? How was your first conversation with Matt? (Managing Director)
I do remember. I applied in the normal way, sending my CV and attaching an in depth cover letter. I was invited in for a one to one interview with Matt and I was unbelievably nervous as I’d been out of work for four years and even before that I’d been head hunted so I wasn’t really up to speed on interviewing.
I’d prepared well and done my research on the company and I’d prepared loads of questions and suggestions of how the Business Development manager role could benefit Vital Certificates. I felt great in the interview and it obviously went well as Matt showed me to my proposed desk at the end of it. I got a call a little while later saying I’d got the job and was asked to start at the beginning of January straight after the Christmas & New Year holidays.
Perfect! What was it you were brought into do then?
The primary function was to attract more businesses to use Vital rather than just having individual customers requesting our services. The aim was to start locating Businesses who sent employees overseas then to make contact with them and offer our service at a competitive price. Additionally, we had no way of recording all the information we were gathering so part of my role was to liaise with Matt and develop new systems to work with to improve our service. I was also tasked with growing the department which I’m in the process of doing now. We’ve grown from me being on my own to a team of four and having our own sales office.
You’ve come a long way then! Let’s talk a bit about your role at Vital. What is it you do on a day-to-day basis?
I contact new businesses who send their staff overseas and will benefit from our service, I’m continuously building relationships with the key people within those businesses to understand how they work and what their individual needs are, as this really helps when we are servicing their staff when they are moving overseas.
I spend lots of my time on Social Media sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn as this helps me source potential customers/businesses. Last but not least I do some cold calling when necessary as this will enable me to talk to the people that really matter. As well as this I manage the sales office and the sales team which now consists of myself, one experienced team member (Brigitte) and two new starters (Mark and Christy) who I’m training up at the moment. I’m also responsible for running weekly sales meetings, presenting back a sales update to the whole Vital team at the weekly company meetings and responsible for the upkeep of our CRM customer data base.
Sounds like you have a lot of responsibilities! What are the some of the biggest challenges you face in your role?
Keeping the team motivated is a challenge as it’s not a traditional sales role where you speak to the customer and make a sale, as we can only sell our service when a customer requires it. What this means is that we can have many months of speaking to a client before they need to use us, so the staff feel like they are not doing their jobs. They feel like they are working hard for no return so I’m constantly having to reassure the team that building these relationships will pay dividends in the long term.We are also continuously increasing the number of companies we work with which in turn is increasing our workload, so this is something we have to manage effectively.
Setting up a new sales office from scratch was a challenge as well, but we’re fully operational now and it’s worked really well, so I’m very happy with the outcome!
What do you enjoy most about working here?
I love my job and what that involves – being part of a team. The constant changes and improvements and the speed at which Vital is growing really excites me as well. No two days are ever really the same!
I have also been given the authority to create a sales function and to build a team from scratch which is where I excel and what I love to do. My other great joy is seeing my team improve and achieve their potential.
Have you set yourself any short-term, mid-term and long-term goals?
- Short-term – My short term goals have been to set up an independent sales office and train up three new staff members.
- Mid-term – To recruit and train two new staff members by the end of 2017.
- Long-term – To have an established team of eight in place fully trained and achieving our aims/objectives.
Let’s move away from work then. What do you like to do in your downtime?
Socialising with friends and family especially at home, we own a property which we are currently refurbishing which takes up a lot of our time as well as looking after our children.
That sounds great! Finally, do you have a favourite quote?
“We are all born with a little bit of madness, the important thing is not to lose it” – Robin Williams.
That’s everything. Thanks for your time Sarah!