When Renaissance's distribution business merged with Exeed in 2012, many of its sales team with specialist Apple knowledge were brought on board. Nicky Robinson is one of them and now works as the Apple Retail Account Manager looking after key retailers in the New Zealand market supplying the Apple range including all its accessories and upgrades. Robinson hasn't always worked in technology channels. But her experience pointed her in the direction her career has taken. "I have done a few interesting things," she tells Reseller News. "I managed a property management company, worked in publishing selling advertising space and worked running boutique real estate events. I was always surrounded by sales people so I knew sales was where I wanted to be." When asked if she ever thinks about changing careers again, her answer is a definite no. "I think I already have changed careers," she says. "I made the shift five years ago to sales and haven’t looked back." Is money your primary motivator for success? No, money is important in helping my family and I to achieve our personal goals. However, I really thrive on winning business, working through challenging scenarios and helping my customers’ succeed. What’s the most useful tip you can give to a struggling salesperson? Take a step back. Try to get an understanding of your customers’ needs. Sometimes what you think is important to your customer isn’t their focus. It may be time to ask the right questions to find out what your customer really needs from you. How much does personality contribute to your success compared to a product or company? I believe that relationships are valuable. People are important, however just as important is the back up you have from your team, company systems and being able to believe in the product you sell. Does the pressure to hit your monthly or quarterly targets ever make you stressed? Always, but that’s what I enjoy about it. It can be stressful but that’s part of what I like about it. Our Retail team are constantly talking about our numbers and keeping each other motivated to hit their targets. It makes it fun. That’s a part of why you get into sales really. How did you get past the point of struggling to make a sale to where you are today? Learning about my customer and gathering information from my colleagues, never being shy to ask questions. I think it’s really about knowing your customers. You can keep flogging the same sales pitch to them and not realising why it’s not working. And then you suddenly look at their business and ask the right questions, find out what they actually need and it might be something that you hadn’t thought of. So it’s just asking your customer the right questions and not being afraid to ask questions. And not being afraid to ask questions. Do you consider yourself a persuasive person? I would say that some people say that I do. But that’s probably because I get excited about opportunities. I am quite a positive person. I use that enthusiasm to get people on board. I guess it makes selling something easier if you’re genuinely enthusiastic about something. It pretty much makes for an easy sale because you encourage people to get on your wavelength. Would you encourage your offspring to go into sales? Yes – if they were a happy confident person that didn’t take knockbacks personally. What’s the best line of jargon you’ve invented? I think Apple really sells itself from a technical point of view because it is really easy to use. It’s a product that everybody wants at the moment but we still have to manage the channel. What’s your best and worst example of cold calling? Well cold calling in my business is looking for new opportunities, which we’re always doing. I haven’t really got any bad experiences of cold calling. Has anyone ever made you feel intimidated as a salesperson? I think so but it’s always good to look at times like that as a bit of a challenge then if you can overcome that it can turn into a positive. If you go into a meeting that will lead to a bigger deal if you win do you get nervous? A nervous sort of excitement yes. I always leave the meeting on a bit of a high. Have you ever put your foot in it when you’re talking to a client? I think everybody makes mistakes every now and then but I think the key is just to be honest when you do something like that. How would you sum up the job of sales in one sentence? I guess it’s selling products to customers to help them to grow their business. How do you balance time spent between product knowledge training with generating leads or opportunities? I think product knowledge is really important because if you want to do right by your customers you have to know your product. How I balance it is to ensure that keep up to date. We have product announcements and our team is all over it on the day that it gets released.
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