21 Jul 2017 | 02.24 pm
Interview: Peter Millen, Northgate Vehicle Hire
Teaching selling skills is tough
21 Jul 2017 | 02.24 pm
Peter Millen (pictured), Managing Director of Northgate Vehicle Hire in Ireland, aims to make the company the first choice for any business needing a light commercial vehicle. He has been with Northgate for 19 years and previously managed the company’s operations in the south of England.
What has been your most memorable job?
Many years ago I worked in Harrods. It was the most amazing place, full of nearly anything you could possibly buy. The clients were from all walks of life and they loved the buzz and the glam of the rich and famous who walked through the store. Wimbledon was always a great time all the tennis players would visit and you would have the chance to meet them.
What do you enjoy about sales?
I really enjoy meeting customers and prospects and finding out about their businesses and challenges. It gives me great pleasure to solve a customer’s problem solved and watch them go off happy.
What makes a good high-performance salesperson?
Qualities include empathy, customer focus, being curious and being a good planner. The preparation for a sale is the key area. Sales professionals who have the client’s best interests at heart tend to get repeat and referral business.
How have you made Northgate more successful as a sales organisation?
I always hire people who put the customer first – they tend to fight for the customer within Northgate. I have always worked hard to ensure that we have the right technology that enables us to respond to customers quickly and efficiently.
How have customers changed over the past few years?
Customers now focus not just on costs but measuring service. So our customers need management information and support. This requires Northgate to adapt to support our customers’ requirements to help them provide their services.
How does Northgate compete as a brand?
Having the complete vehicle cycle from purchase of vehicle, sales process and in-house maintenance throughout all our depots, and controlling our own disposal channels at end of rental cycles, ensures that we can deliver quality service.
What impact is technology having on sales process and performance?
Technology assists with prospecting and matching products for the right type of customer. With faster communications too, the sales professional can be far more efficient and productive. We also have the ability to monitor portfolios and identify opportunities and trends far earlier than might have happened previously. Without doubt this space is going to change even more rapidly in the coming years and the challenge is to understand what tools we should be using.
How do you teach your team how to sell?
Teaching selling is probably one of the hardest things to do. We use a wide range of sales training methods; most are in-house with a few external supports. We recruit very good sales personnel and the majority of our training is learning about our products and how our business supports our customers.
What makes a good sales leader?
A good leader understands what motivates each of member of the team and offers encouragement and support when someone is not on target. Today there are many pressures to deliver big increases year on year, and the team is the most important factor in achieving this.