Sophie Clark: From sales newbie to leading ApplianSys' US sales operation
Sophie joined ApplianSys' sales team in 2012 straight from university. Having worked in retail during her degree course, this was Sophie's first role in sales. Initially working on opportunities around the world, she has since specialised in US schools opportunities and, in October 2015, flew out to the US to lead ApplianSys' development of a local sales presence.
Did you always want to work in Sales?
Before joining ApplianSys, I had very little knowledge of what sales really was. One of the things that drew me to the role was that I'd get to talk to lots of different people from all around the world. I've always enjoyed this but my confidence has grown rapidly at ApplianSys. With a very consultative sales process, it's essential to enjoy communicating, building relationships and thinking on your feet to respond to customer needs.
Don't you need to be pushy to work in sales?
That's one of the most pleasing aspects of sales at ApplianSys: we're not looking to 'push product'. Ours is a very complex sales process and 'closing' a sale is built into a sophisticated consultation that takes place over many interactions. I spend most of my time educating customers, helping them to understand their requirement and solving complicated problems. It's a fascinating process that requires you to pay really close attention to detail, build genuine relationships with your prospects and truly understand buyer psychology. It's intellectually challenging and this makes it far more rewarding than playing the numbers game of trying to sell commodity items to hundreds of prospects a day.
So you need to be technically minded to sell ApplianSys products?
I was a little worried about this before joining ApplianSys. It would have been fair to describe me as 'technically challenged' on day one and I'm sure that the grads I joined with were in a similar position. But with training and guidance from technical colleagues, and by just putting my brain to it, it's been a lot easier than I thought to get a solid grasp of technology. It's definitely helpful learning together with other graduates, we've grown together. And it's not like we need to know all the technical detail, there are plenty of ApplianSys engineers to turn to for help when needed.
Where will this job take your career?
Well, this isn't really a 'Grad scheme' I've been working on real prospects from day one and I've been given increasing responsibility since then: from small opportunities to large, on to leading our Schools sector team and now establishing the US office. It's been rapid and I'm really motivated to develop our caching appliance into the de-facto market leading product for schools worldwide. Watch this space!
I'm also confident about life after ApplianSys. The training that I've received is explicitly geared to develop me into the kind of salesperson that tech vendors see as the only kind worth employing. Confident relationship builders that are comfortable dealing with complex solutions and customer psychology.
What type of character should apply for an ApplianSys Sales Job?
I'd recommend ApplianSys to seriously ambitious grads who enjoy an intellectual challenge. We decided years ago that "good isn't good enough" and you need the drive to live up to this mantra. Unusually, for sales teams, we're not really competing with each other in a cut-throat competition. We work collaboratively, building on each-other's growing expertise to smash our collective targets.
But it's not all work, work, work... across ApplianSys and especially amongst the graduates, we grow together in work and play. There's always a group heading out for drinks after a challenging week in the office!