What I’ve learnt: Selwyn Cooper, head of business sales, Volvo Car UK
Acting as the head of business sales
Looking back over my 20 years with Volvo, I’ve been fortunate enough to work across all departments within the organisation to embed fleet and business sales as a cornerstone of our brand’s growth. It has meant working with my leadership team to steer the business through massive change, to deliver our business goals. In that time I’ve witnessed the fleet business transform beyond all recognition too.
Regulations have tightened. Emissions have tumbled and, most importantly, fleet drivers have become more discerning.
During my career I’ve learnt that time stands still for no one, whoever you may be. The key timeline in any transaction, be it business or personal, is the one of the person who ultimately makes the decision to accept what you want. As such, it’s critical to understand their timeline and work within it. It’s no good supplying the best product the day after the buyer has placed the contract with someone else.
Always try to understand the personality style of who you are dealing with as this will be essential when conducting business. Trying to convince a quantitative person with qualitative arguments is hard work and will more often than not get you nowhere. Once you appreciate someone’s personality style, it’s best to quickly understand where people’s entry point on knowledge of your specialist subject lies. For example, if you pitch it too low, you risk patronising someone – too high and you’ve lost them completely.
You could have a wealth of knowledge on a subject but fail to present yourself and your business in the correct way, which can affect relationships going forward.
You (or at least I do) get so much more work done before lunchtime rather than after. As such, plan to complete the difficult tasks before the mundane/easy ones to ensure you’re fully engaged with what needs to be done. If the challenges aren’t tackled first, they’ll carry forward onto tomorrow’s to do list and before you know it, they become a problem.
In terms of any business transaction, ensure all the fundamentals of the proposal or brief are understood early. Don’t wait until the detailed contracts come through to unearth or impose conditions to you which are not understood at the outset. This will impact people’s perceptions of you from the beginning so never be afraid to ask questions!
Spend a little time each day considering how lucky you are to be alive and to live in relative comfort. Celebrate it, enjoy your successes and learn from the mistakes but also find some time to think of those less fortunate and try to do something, however small, to help if you can.
I think one of the most important life lessons I have learnt is that while my daughters will grow up and make successful careers of their own, they’ll never refuse a family dinner when Dad is paying!