Discovery Graduates placed Simon Monks in a graduate role back in 2004. Since then, Discovery have contributed to Simon’s professional development, and he now holds the highly regarded role of National Sales Manager at VBH Ltd.
Read on to find out how Simon progressed into the fantastic role he now holds and what he is looking for in a graduate employee today.
VBH (GB) Ltd are now searching for two Graduate Field Sales Executives. See below for details on how to apply.
Which company do you work for?
VBH (GB) Ltd – the market leader in the window and door hardware sector
What is your job?
National Sales Manager
Is Sales a career path that you envisioned yourself taking when you graduated from university?
Originally, like many graduates, I was unsure of where my career path was headed after University. I found myself in a graduate management role in retail. I really enjoyed the customer face to face aspect of that role and coming up with different marketing strategies to increase business within the retail operation – all foundation skills of what has turned out to be a natural move into field sales.
Why did you choose to follow a career in professional selling?
I have an outgoing personality, I like to have responsibility and be challenged. Being involved in managing a sales area, you get a sense of it being the boss of your own “mini business”, where you are directly responsible for the success of that sales area. Having that challenge and responsibility was very appealing to me.
What steps have you taken in your career to progress into the position of National Sales Manager?
I have been on courses offered by Discovery Graduates to help refine my raw talent as a salesman when I first “cut my teeth” in sales. Since then I have learned from the experienced sales people around me. In my role as National Sales Manager, I have gained independent qualifications in management and finance for non financial managers to progress me into the position I hold today.
What support have you had along the way? Have you completed any external training or development courses?
I have been supported by VBH in achieving external CMI qualifications in management and finance for non financial managers. I have also whilst being at VBH been on external sales courses during my role as an Area Sales Manager.
Take us through a typical day in your role as National Sales Manager
To support the best sales team in industry! My typical day is spent supporting the different sales areas and the Area Sales Managers that run those areas all over the UK. I work closely with key VBH accounts, key VBH partners and suppliers and help support sales and marketing strategies for the company as a whole. Every day is different and that is what makes it such a pleasure to work for VBH.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I always get a buzz out of helping and selling to customers by offering solutions to their needs. The best part about my job is solving a problem for a customer, either directly or through supporting an Area Sales Manager, and knowing their business will benefit from partnering with VBH.
How would you describe the culture at VBH?
We work together as a very cohesive team. We are very professional in our approach to our market, but the best thing about VBH is we all recognize that VBH doesn’t work without all the cogs working together. Hence we have built up a terrific team culture in the organisation.
What development opportunities are offered at VBH?
A successful Graduate Sales Executive would be working towards becoming a fully-fledged Area Sales Manager (ASM) as their first step. We also have a variety of roles within VBH sales called ‘Product Managers’ where ASMs become responsible for different sectors in the market, driving the sales strategy and marketing ideas behind it. As a worldwide organisation there are always opportunities for VBH Group as a career progresses.
If you were recruiting a graduate for your team now, what key attributes would you look for?
Drive, determination, a willingness to learn. I came out of University without a directly related business degree; in fact it was in history of all things! I was however driven and willing to learn to become a successful sales man. We have an excellent support structure in VBH GB for anyone wanting to be successful.
What would your advice be to students or recent graduates who are looking for a job in today’s competitive market?
Don’t give up, become disheartened and accept second best. It’s always tough coming out in the job market for the first time. As I said coming out of University I was unsure about what career path I wanted to take. I have ended up in a completely different role than my degree would imply or even my first job, but from University and those early days post University, I have taken something with me to the role I am in now. I have listened and learned from experience, but most importantly I based my career choices around things that interested me as well as the raw skills I had. Make sure you do what is best for you when looking for a career.
Whilst the profession of sales is becoming ever more respected nowadays, it still bears some of the bad press that it held twenty or so years ago. What would you say to graduates who are unnerved by this negative press?
Every major organisation including VBH has to have some sort of sales. Just to make the world go round! Historically, there has been a negative press about sales, but I think that is because sales has been unfortunately stereotyped by television, media and movies. In reality when working for a professional company like VBH in sales it’s nothing like that. You’re not just selling components for windows and doors to companies, your selling solutions; solutions that might be in how they market their products, or speed up productivity in the factory. That is something you probably don’t hear about with the bad press of sales. It is an incredibly rewarding career and I could not imagine doing anything else.
VBH (GB) Ltd are now searching for two Graduate Field Sales Executives.