At the British Excellence in Sales and Marketing Awards (BESMA) in March 2013, OpenSymmetry couldn’t help but be impressed by an abundance of superb female talent. As sponsors of the award for New Sales Professional of the year, they were also proud to help highlight the achievements of Nicole McIvor.
Nicole is one of a new generation of talented women finding their place as sales professionals. So, a few months on since the Awards, OpenSymmetry was keen to learn more about Nicole’s achievements, motivations and how she plans to top her early success.
Nicole, who is an Ecommerce relationship manager for WorldPay, says she’s delighted to have won the Sales Professional of the Year Awards at the BESMAs 2013. She’s proud to have beaten off competition from 150 other entrants to take the top slot.
So what’s it like to be so good, so young? What does the future hold, and does she have any tips for the rest of us? We asked:
Tell us a little about your current role.
Having started off in WorldPay’s gaming and airline sectors, I went on to work in a number of departments before being promoted to relationship manager. I now look after a portfolio of seven international airline clients, and have responsibility for all commercial elements of the relationships. My annual targets involve upselling to my portfolio. It’s a challenge; but one I really enjoy!
How and why did you get into sales?
I studied International Relations at Leicester University, and on graduating I joined the operational finance team at RBS WorldPay. After just a couple of months, I knew I wanted to be at the epicentre of the action: our HQ in London. There, I quickly found my feet in our commercial team as an account assistant. The people I met in my first months in the role shaped the way I think about sales and spurred me on to success. I’ve also had the advantage of an extremely supportive boss, who provides great guidance and allows me to explore different opportunities within relationship management.
What is the most satisfying part of your job?
I really enjoy working on big deals for my clients. It’s really satisfying to identify their key needs and exactly how WorldPay can help bridge the gap in satisfying them. The best bit really is when a merchant goes live with a new product which you know is going to be a success.
What motivates you to get up and succeed each day?
The pride I take in my work drives me to do my best – as does making a positive impression with my peers. My friends and family are very important to me, and I know that success in my career will give me more flexibility so I won’t miss out on the special occasions that count. Living in London has also increased my determination to get on the property ladder.
What has been the most challenging aspect of a sales role in your experience?
As a salesperson you spend so much time identifying and nurturing leads that it’s easy to lose sight of what’s actually worth pursuing. The hardest lesson, I feel, is learning to recognise when a piece of business is just not worth pitching for, and to step back. A great sales person learns this lesson early; they know when their product meets a different set of requirements. Having the discipline to identify the right deals is crucial to maintaining your integrity.
What skills do you need to be a great salesperson?
There’s no one thing that makes a salesperson stand out, but there are key skills that everyone in sales should work on. A great attitude and the drive to win are essential, along with honesty and the will to persevere – you especially need the patience to handle objections. These days being a strategic thinker is more important than ever – particularly in identifying a clients needs and addressing them to secure a sale.
Work/life balance — do you have it; how do you do it? If not, what would help?
I can confidently say yes. I do have a good work and life balance; but it does still take some discipline to switch off! On a Friday evening my blackberry goes off at 8pm. I turn it on for an hour on Saturday or Sunday morning, but otherwise it’s off until Sunday evening, when I plan my next week’s actions.
A structured routine is really important. If I plan early for the week ahead, work doesn’t play on my mind and I can enjoy my weekend. Like any job, you put in the extra hours when needed, but success makes the sacrifice worth it.
Likewise, my hard work pays off in other ways: I love to travel – my favourite place to visit is Malaysia. Doing well means that I can afford to get away as often as I find time.
Do you think that being a female in a male-dominated industry has any significant advantages or disadvantages?
These days, I think it’s a fairly level playing field at the start of your career – regardless of your gender. If you want to get noticed, you’ve got to perform well and deliver results.
But even today, women are too often faced with choices between family and career progression later on. Things are changing though. Mobile technology is giving sales people the ability to work remotely, helping women to juggle responsibilities. I do think it’s important for businesses to support women at this life stage. Their returned commitment and loyalty will only benefit the business in the long term.
Have you perceived any major changes in the industry since you entered it?
Technology has had a big impact. Smart technology is really pushing the commercial boundaries in my sector payments. Change is pretty much non-stop as a backdrop to my work.
In addition, the divestment of WorldPay from RBS has provided me with an exciting opportunity to be part of a business that is developing and changing at a rapid rate – there’s a real buzz about the place. It’s a fast moving industry that needs the full commitment of its workforce. Yes, it can be tough; but it’s also exciting and immensely rewarding to be part of.
OpenSymmetry sponsored the New Sales Professional of the Year category at this year’s BESMAs.