Your current role at Vodafone is Head of Sales Excellence, how do you define ‘sales excellence’ and what is your ambition for the business in this area?

I sit in the company’s enterprise business which focuses on sales to businesses rather than consumers. Here, as with our consumer business, we want to build a world-class sales organisation. At the heart of this ambition is our people; providing them with training, the best-in-class enablement tools and a clear career path to drive the ultimate goal of providing a superior sales experience for the customer.

Within the enterprise business we have rolled out the Vodafone Way of Selling with a view to achieving a consistent global sales approach in all its markets spanning 26 countries.

What do you see as the challenges for the sales industry, in particular Telco sales, over the next five years? What would you like to see happen to address these?

Today the sales journey has changed; social and digital communications play a key role in the sales interaction. Research tells us the enterprise customer now approaches a company with 40-50% of the buying decisions already made, so the challenge now is to have the right sales organisation in place to address this change.

Some of the ways we are addressing the changes is to provide sales training to raise the right level of engagement at the C suite. Strategically we are investing in a desk-based inside sales, looking at lead generation in a different way through the use of digital sales and marketing.

Your previous roles were working in the US, Caribbean and Africa, what lessons could you pass on to UK sales leaders?

One of the key observations I’ve made working in a global roles in the US, Africa and the Caribbean, is that a company can invest in new systems, processes and thinking but this needs to be interlocked and aligned with the sales force otherwise it will not work.

Frequently in the planning process Change Management is overlooked, typically accounting for 10-15% of the focus yet it has 80% of the impact – consideration needs to be given accordingly. Plan well and upfront for change, and embed it – it needs to underpin operational processes to be effective. This strategy is valid throughout the world.

A culture of diversity and inclusion is important for any business, do you think it is a priority for sales leaders now – and if not, what would make it sit higher on their priority list?

How can Diversity & Inclusion not be important for a business? It makes business sense; when there is homogeneity and uniformity, there is an absence of diversity of thought. It is different ideas and perspectives that shape an organisation.

I recall an anecdote where we had planned an important client dinner in minute detail, paying particular attention to the food and venue; however, we didn’t offer wine at the meal thinking it would not be culturally accepted. The following day the clients commented on this fact and said they would have appreciated being asked. This was a valuable lesson in that diversity and inclusion is not just a program but really important to how we do business and interact with our customers.

Why did you decide to join the APS, and how do you feel it benefits the sales community?

At Vodafone we joined APS to have the opportunity to participate in the conversation and help shape the sales profession. We wanted to provide our sales professionals with the opportunity to network and have opportunities for professional development.

On a personal note, I hope to benefit from peer-to-peer networking and sharing of best practices.