At the recent British Excellence in Sales and Marketing Awards ran by the ISMM, the prestigious Sales Professional of the Year award went to John Schofield from Merial Animal Health. This award was described by the judges as the blue ribbon award, perhaps the most coveted award of the evening. Schofield picked up this award on the back of an exceptional year; one is which he has also overseen the building of his new home.
A passion for Sales
Speaking to John Schofield gave insight into what it takes to win this award, the sort of skills, commitment and enthusiasm that makes the winner the best sales person in the UK. So how and why did John get into sales?
“I guess the honest answer is I favour doing things I enjoy and I’m good at” says Schofield, “ My first job after leaving school was in a local agricultural trade outlet, this gave me a chance to build on my natural ability to talk to people and build customer relationships.
“As I progressed through numerous sales positions, the customer was always at the heart of my work. Having acquired the necessary qualifications in order to sell in the industry, I took further qualifications which helped me move into the veterinary pharmaceuticals sector and my current position at Merial Animal Health
Throughout the judging process the judges were impressed by Schofield’s enthusiasm for the job, he clearly loves working in sales, ”I know it’s a cliché but nevertheless it’s true - first and foremost I enjoy meeting new people and developing relationships with them.
“I work hard on my product knowledge and pass this over to benefit my customers’ business needs. When you have put all the background work and hard graft into a particular area, there is nothing more satisfying than having the customer sign on the dotted line, knowing you’ve done a good job for the customer and for the company.
What makes a successful sales person?
This year Schofield also oversaw the building of his new home, a project that required exceptional organisational planning and negotiation skills that he uses on a daily basis. He remarks at the satisfaction of completing such a project on top of his sales activity “To complete a house build is something that is there for my family for the rest of our years, a big deal can provide important short term motivation for success”.
What other skills did Schofield also feel were important for sales success? “In my view, the most important success factor in a customer relationship is mutual trust. And the best way to build trust is to be yourself. I like to think I am open, honest and trustworthy and that my customers, especially the key accounts who I see more as clients, respond positively.
“The other fundamental aspect to success in sales is whatever your natural abilities, you need to keep learning. I grab every opportunity I can to develop my potential through Merial’s excellent sales training. Everyone I’ve worked with who has helped my development, my career. I am, of course, extremely grateful to them all.
The skills and relationship building that Schofield comments on are not uncommon factors to good selling, but the difference to a good sales person and the best sales professional takes more than this,
“There is a wealth of experience and skills within the team; we’ve shared many successes. One thing I bring is 24 years of experience and knowledge of different aspects of the agricultural trade. Coming from grassroots level, helps me to relate well to the problems and concerns facing farming communities.
The Sales Journey
Using his 4 years experience in the industry, Schofield also had some advice for people starting their sales journey,
“Learn as much as you can about your products, take any sales training opportunities available to you and develop your own style. Share ideas with your colleagues as they are a good source of support and information. Give advice as well as receive it”
BESMA is one night and when the evening is finished all the winners will go back to their sales job role’s some creating and some working to targets, the world goes on, and there are sure to be new and existing challenges to take on.
“I was the Top Sales Performer for the Merial Production Animal Team for both 2009 and 2010, now I have the BESMA Sales Professional of the Year 2011, so I think the challenge is to continue the success story!
“This means, fundamentally – no “sitting on my laurels”. I want to build on my achievements, seize opportunities to ensure that my customers can benefit from both the quality service and products that I can offer.
“Merial has a strong French heritage so it would have been totally remiss of me if I had not consumed the odd glass of Champagne with colleagues at the Awards ceremony! On my return home I had family and friends round for a celebratory BBQ and drinks.
Congratulations to John for this phenomenal success, we hope he enjoys a few more celebratory glasses in the new house.