Onboarding your sales team

Onboarding your sales team represents a real opportunity to engage and educate your new employees about your business and shape how they speak to your market. If you get it right, your new hires will be productive sooner than you think and feel raring to go. Conversely, an ineffective or unclear onboarding experience will do little to inspire confidence in their ability to deliver their targets; or, worse, cause them to lose faith in your business resulting in a hasty departure. And this is why so many organisations experience high churn: they invest time and effort in communicating their culture throughout the interview process, but it all falls off a cliff swiftly after. You easily bridge this gap with some reflection on your onboarding experience. Think about what your employees need to know to do their jobs, e.g. product knowledge, playbooks, call scripts and training materials. Now think about what they need to be genuinely successful, training, support, mentoring and a culture where they can ask questions and seek knowledge without fear of knockbacks or reprisals.

Now you may be thinking, yeah, but salespeople will sink or swim, and they’ll be thick-skinned enough to weather anything we throw at them. That’s true for some salespeople but by no means all. As we covered in our previous blog, Planning and Hiring and Outbound Sales Function, all salespeople are different and will have a range of needs. If you take the ‘sink or swim approach’, you will experience high churn, and that’s demoralising for everyone in your team because it creates a powerful barrier to building team rapport and a high-performance culture.

Don’t overwhelm new hires

There are a few schools of thought around sales training. I believe you need to upskill and arm your new hires with the product training; they’ll need to sell your services and products effectively. You don’t need to block in two or three solid weeks of intensive training, and doing that could be counterintuitive. Research reveals 84% of sales training is forgotten within the first three months. It’s a lot for people to retain and remember, and it’s the antithesis of the in-role learning that people find so helpful once they’re taking calls. It’s worth thinking about how you can break up product training, where appropriate, with other equally valuable elements of the onboarding experience.

Train outside the classroom because exposure to the entire business matters

Draw on the experiences of everyone in the business to give your new hires a real sense of your culture, your operating model and the way you conduct business. Shadowing can provide compelling insight for recruits, so invite them to marketing meetings to see the messaging and methods you use to talk to your market, which will help them when they’re talking to prospects. Expose them to account management calls and meetings so they can get a feel for how you collaborate with and support your clients. It’s also a brilliant insight into how you deal with challenges and objections in real life outside of a formal training environment. Peer-to-peer mentoring or ‘buddy systems’ can work well to support informal, on-the-job learning and give your new hire a go-to resource for questions they don’t want to bring to management or schedule meetings to discuss.

Set clear expectations and invite honest questions

As a founder and an experienced sales professional, it matters to me that new employees know that my door is open, and they can ask me questions about the business. I want to know their concerns, and I want to encourage them to be curious and seek knowledge from their managers and peers because it’s an organic and brilliant way to learn. Equally, it’s essential that I set clear expectations and communicate my vision for the business, so we start their journey on the same page.

Embrace ready to go attitudes (whilst providing support)

This might be deemed controversial, but I can only speak from my own experience. Early on in my career, I would have been very disappointed if I’d left a new sales role and hadn’t been allowed to speak to a customer on my first day. I fully understand that different organisations have different policies. Others aren’t comfortable allowing a new hire to have a customer or prospect until they’ve completed weeks, maybe even months of training.  Where possible, I would encourage you to embrace those enthusiastic types and give them all the support they need to get going as quickly as possible; it will instil confidence and achievement they cannot get from any amount of success in role-play or simulated training environments.

If you’d like to talk more about any of the topics discussed in this blog or discuss developing your sales strategy, get in touch call 0808 178 6606 or email contact@air-marketing.co.uk.

Opinion Piece by Owen Richards, Founder & CEO

Sales Planning & Hiring Checklist

Over the next 12 months, we will be exploring different topics within our annual theme of ‘setting up an outbound sales team’. The first topic we will be exploring is ‘planning and hiring’ – the first step to creating an outbound sales function.

Whether you’re a Founder looking to make your first sales hire, or you’re a sales/revenue leader looking to grow your existing team, it’s important to have a robust plan in place that will help you hire the right person.

We understand recruiting sales professionals takes time and resources, looking through CVs, interviewing potential candidates and training successful candidates. Hiring a candidate without proper planning could put you back to square one, losing all the time and resources you had dedicated previously.

To help you make your first or next sales hire successful, we have developed the ‘Sales Planning & Hiring Checklist’ that consists of 23 questions you need to be asking yourself if you’re thinking about planning and hiring for your sales team.

If you’d like to talk more about any of the topics discussed in this blog or discuss developing your sales strategy, get in touch call 0808 178 6606 or email contact@air-marketing.co.uk.

Planning & Hiring An Outbound Sales Function

Asking the hard questions and avoiding the pitfalls

Ask anyone who has done it, and they’ll tell you honestly: building your sales team is not easy. The road to a high performing, well-oiled sales machine is a rocky one, filled with challenges that you might have overlooked or ones that you knew you’d have to overcome. As someone who has been through this process with my own company and helped hundreds of clients shape their sales functions, I’m confident I can help you find an easier way through it. In this series, I’m going to show you the sharp end of sales success, taking stock of what you need to think about at every stage and hopefully saving you some time (and exasperation) while providing some inspiration.

Planning is essential to success

In my experience, there are two familiar scenarios: those businesses that want to build a sales function because the business Founder has been doing most of the selling. They’re at the point where to see serious growth; they need more sales resource. Primarily resource focused on selling rather than wearing many different hats. And there are those businesses that have recently secured funding and need to nail their go-to-market strategy and get out there and sell. To do that, they’ll need a team. They are looking for a repeatable and scalable sales model that will deliver against their financial forecast and demonstrate their viability to investors.

This is where it all begins. You know you need sales resource, so what do you do next? At this point, some businesses dive right into hiring their first dedicated salesperson. It might seem logical, but without a plan, the processes, the data, researched target profiles and the right messaging, how can you give your new hire the tools they need to succeed?

Developing your Sales Playbook

It’s why your Sales Playbook is so essential; this is your blueprint for how you define and reach your market, the message you use and the processes you follow to close business. And even the most tenacious and experienced salesperson will benefit from a sales playbook that brings together the best practice you’ve developed so far. I’ve seen less experienced SDRs ramp up their productivity much more rapidly when armed with the right messages, data strategy, technology, and objection handling practices.

Failing to put in the groundwork and thinking about who you are targeting and the key benefit statements around your service is a missed opportunity and will make it far more difficult for your salesperson to sell. This is especially true if they’ve not been part of the Founder and the technical developers’ product development journey. And even if you have a very niche or defined market, where are you sourcing your data, and what channels do you plan to use to contact these people? Will you focus on speed and quantity or quality of engagement? And what will the sales process look like beyond that first engagement or conversation? Maybe you’ll decide LinkedIn outreach is the best plan, or perhaps you’d rather go for a cold calling approach. Wherever you land, you need a plan to make your chosen method work well. For example, if a customer asks about pricing reasonably early on in your conversation, what’s your stance? Do you readily share this with them? Or does it require a more in-depth consultative discussion bringing in other teams in the business? What’s the qualification criteria for passing over to, say, Business Development to advance the lead to an opportunity? And what collateral and process docs do you need to support their efforts? These are questions worth knowing the answer to because they allow for a smoother sale and a more seamless customer experience.

Not all sales professionals are made alike

Without a plan in place or a clear data strategy, you could hire an experienced salesperson and a more junior salesperson, give them each a LinkedIn Sales Navigator account and send them on their merry way. How do you know they’ll use consistent messaging? You can’t account for how much time they’ll need to spend researching ahead of a call or meeting. With no plan or foundation level messaging, they may need to spend more time tailoring more personalised approaches, with no certainty or assurance they’re going in the right direction. By which point, you’ll have to cycle back and rethink your targets and your plan.

And this neatly brings me to my next point; not all sales professionals are made alike. And how you plan to interact with your target audience hugely influences the type of person you need to hire. Suppose you’re planning high volume, top of the funnel activity. In that case, you need a very different type of sales professional than if you are expecting your hire to navigate large organisations as part of an account-based marketing approach and close a complex technical deal. It would help if you also thought about what matters most to you as a business. Do you care most about cultural fit, industry experience or sales track record? Do you need someone who is not afraid of the phone or someone who has finesse with their copywriting?

Furthermore, do you need someone who will grow a team and build your sales function out, or will they likely not get this opportunity. Each of these scenarios requires a very different kind of person.

If you’ve never hired a salesperson before, it can be tricky to match experience with what your organisation most needs to grow. It might be tempting to opt for somebody senior, but can they replicate their success in a lean startup without the resource and budget they may be accustomed to? It might be that they would prefer to spend more time on strategy and less time on delivery when you need both.

Realism can help you plan better

I’m sorry to say this, but you will fail before you succeed. Fail fast, and you will move on to bigger and better things, armed with lessons learnt.

And if/when you realise that you made the wrong call, do you know how to fix it? I’ve seen this quite a lot, where an organisation’s attempt at building out sales just isn’t working. Sometimes, it’s due to a misjudged hire, potentially poor cultural fit, or lack of experience. Sometimes it’s simply due to not enough clarity around the organisation’s sales cycle. If you haven’t accurately judged when your sales investment is likely to deliver a return on investment, you could be working blind and failing to produce enough leads to convert sales months down the line. Or you could have set the wrong expectations entirely along with other stakeholders in the business (including yourself).

Often a Founder or CEO who has brought in all the business to date unfairly expects a salesperson to replicate their success and deliver the same numbers. Without the Founder’s autonomy, experience, and depth of product knowledge, this is almost impossible. And however hard an employee tries, they cannot replicate the passion of a Founder. I know this myself, and while I expect my team to be enthusiastic and care, I don’t expect the vision for the business to take up permanent residence in their daily thoughts; that’s on me.

It’s also worth noting that a new sales hire doesn’t have anywhere near that amount of flexibility and creative control and is unlikely to be as warmly received as a CEO, which, as we all know, can open doors.

When it comes down to it, building a successful sales team requires serious reflection before you even begin. It’s my firm belief that with a realistic plan, a sensible approach to achieving your targets based on accurate sales forecasting and numbers, a well-developed playbook and a clear view of the type of salespeople you need to hire, you have every chance of success.

Oh, and one more thing; you’ll need some patience and understanding, too. Because (sorry) you’re far more likely to get it wrong before you get it right!

If you’d like to talk more about any of the topics discussed in this blog or discuss developing your sales strategy, get in touch call 0808 178 6606 or email contact@air-marketing.co.uk.

Opinion Piece by Owen Richards, Founder & CEO

Our remote team, a retrospective: how a year like no other brought us even closer together

I’m proud and a little in awe of how our team has stayed motivated almost a year into remote working. I’m also aware this is a well-trodden topic that has understandably had a lot of air time in recent months. But I do believe we must keep talking about it; people need to know that consistent motivation is not accidental; it requires investment in wellbeing and team culture to keep the momentum going.

When I look back, there are a few key things that meant we were well-prepped for challenging times. Our senior team have always had an element of flexibility where possible, so technology-wise, we were pretty prepared. But, like everybody else, the immediate shift to fully remote was a definite shock to the system.

In sales, culture and camaraderie stimulate motivation, so working ‘alone’ without the buzz of a physical office coupled with the additional challenge of dealing with lower contact rates, as everyone else is also working from home, was a worrying combination. Still, thankfully we’ve survived and, dare I say it, thrived. Video calls have emerged as a valuable means of building a relationship with our clients. As we all adjust to the blurred boundaries between home and work, and by allowing people into our homes, we’ve become a little more real, and barriers have come down, which has had a positive effect on working relationships.

We were naturally worried at the start of the first lockdown, but the past year has really encouraged us to embrace team communication and live our culture harder than ever before.

For example, we have cross-team daily calls and a company-wide team meeting every Friday, which gives everyone a consistent touch-point and a way of staying connected to the business. Our sales leaders hold a monthly meeting to discuss individual coaching and support. We’ve also had great support from our training partner, Sales Geek, especially around delivering multichannel campaigns in the current landscape. My department, Account Management, holds a virtual team meeting twice weekly (as a minimum) so that we can discuss strategy with peers. Each Account Manager also gets a personal 1-2-1 each week to discuss challenges.

And it’s not all work-related. We’ve even taken virtual fitness classes to help us stay well and keep the lockdown pounds at bay. All of this activity has given us all some feeling of normality, structure and focus on the future. Because of this sustained effort and consistency, we can feel confident that the business will adapt to life after lockdown.

And although we haven’t been physically together these past months, I personally feel like we haven’t lost any of what made our culture so special. We’ve supported each other, celebrated successes and worked through challenges together as a team. And while we’re all keen to get back to Air HQ, I think we’ll look back on this time with a mixture of memories, and view it as a time where circumstances really tested our culture, and we came out on top. We were all at home, yet we continued to hire, grow the business, win new clients (we’re actually delivering more hours for clients weekly than pre-pandemic) and launched a refreshed brand. It might be a cliché to say it, but I’m sure this whole experience has bought us even closer.

Opinion piece by Shaun Weston, Campaign Operations Director

Leading your sales team like a human – why authenticity really matters

I can honestly say that making the conscious decision to lead my team as a human and aiming to be the most authentic version of myself, has had a huge impact on shaping our culture as we’ve grown. Shortly after founding the business, I decided that in an otherwise complex world, one thing could be straightforward, my role. Yes, I am a boss, a leader, a manager and a salesperson, but first and foremost, I’m me.

The idea of being confined and limited by the narrow parameters associated with a title, a bulleted list of things I should be, seems counterintuitive to connecting with people and aiming to inspire them. Simon Sinek said, ‘a boss has the title, a leader has the people’ and that to me, epitomises the mindset that makes the most sense.

Humans are highly complex and capable. We work best when we’re given the freedom to be creative and innovate. The average UK worker spends 1,676 hours at work every single year – that figure is perhaps even higher in the sales industry. The idea that your input, in all that time, can be reduced to a 500 word job description seems absurd; it doesn’t reflect the role we each play.

When you try to neatly box the notion of what sales leadership should be, you close yourself off to possibilities and true connection. Every day you can choose to be human in your approach, when sales leaders neglect to make a conscious decision about it, they leave their leadership style down to luck and forget to be mindful. When you let your team see the real you, you’re showing them someone who cares about them and you lay the foundations for trust to grow. If they can see you have their best interests at heart, they will appreciate and accept your honesty when delivering tough messages and taking difficult decisions.

Self-awareness is critical for any good leader. Leaders who claim to be infallible are not relatable and sometimes unlikeable. Nobody is perfect and those who can show vulnerability, and strength and resiliency in the face of challenges, without hiding their emotions and compartmentalising their feelings, will be far more inspiring to the team around them than somebody who chooses to hide behind a façade.

It’s important to put your team’s development first, even before your own. Investing in people goes far beyond caring about their success and professional development. True leaders care for their team’s mental wellbeing too, and know they will only truly thrive in a trusting and honest environment where people are comfortable with expectations and feel supported to speak their minds.

Whilst you can and actively should show emotions as a leader, you can’t let them dictate how you behave and the decisions that you make. The ability to step away and create space is critical. Be somebody who explains their motivations and thinking because context really does matter. Give your team transparency around data and decisions and explain the thought processes that led you there.

Don’t be a control freak. Let people exceed all of your expectations, with your full support. True leaders give people ownership and encourage their team to fail fast and learn from the experience. Most importantly, try to create that culture where you talk openly about failure. If you can have honest and normal conversations about it, everyone can learn and move on, it’s all you need to motivate and educate your team.

Our new platform, Wellity, is designed specifically for the sales industry and focuses on the mental health and wellbeing of professionals within it. We recently interviewed a gentleman called Chris Brindley MBE, who was formerly on the board at Metrobank and is now the Chair of the Rugby League World Cup 2021. He talked about two principles that always resonate with me. One is mirrors and windows. Imagine a scenario where a CEO pulls you, the sales leader, into his office at the end of the quarter and chastises you for a poor quarterly performance. He asks you, ‘what’s happening?’. A great leader will reflect that back on themselves, like a mirror and assume accountability. Equally, when a quarter goes well, that same leader will open the ‘window’ motion towards their sales team and congratulate them for the success. The second principle I really admire is that all great leaders are like umbrellas, because they protect their team from the storm.

I’ll leave you with one final point relating to that word, authenticity. Being authentic means coming from a real place inside ourselves; it’s when our actions and our words are congruent with our beliefs and our values. It’s about being fully ourselves, not an imitation of ourselves or what we think we should be.

For me, great leadership doesn’t exist without ‘extreme normality’. All you need to do as a sales leader is bring the best version of your normal self and the results will follow.

For more insight, check out my talk on the same subject at SaaSGrowth 2020.

Opinion piece by Owen Richards
CEO, Air Marketing Group

Writing a new playbook, my lessons from lockdown

The start of lockdown seems like a lifetime ago now, but when I cast my mind back over the past few months it’s clear that it not only represented a turning point in all of our lives but marked a big change in the way we do business. As a sales professional, I’m no stranger to the challenges of a fast-changing and unpredictable environment. As many people in the sales community will attest, it’s all part of the deal. But this was very different. As soon as lockdown was announced, there was an immediate shift in mindset. It felt like the market froze overnight, paralysed by the uncertainty of well… everything. Before the lockdown, we had a warm pipeline of opportunities almost coming to fruition that seemed to drop immediately. People’s faith was understandably crumbling in new and uncertain territory, and sales was not immune.

When you have no idea what the future holds, decision making is harder than ever and that was reflected in the numbers. Slowly but surely, we started to see a gradual change in mindset and attitude as lockdown measures were eased and the market recognised that this may be the ‘new normal’.

From an outbound perspective, prospecting was a challenge in the early weeks of lockdown. We experienced a dip in contact rates and getting hold of decision makers became more difficult. We noticed that the quality of the opportunities coming through our inbound channels improved, with people being ready to buy rather than making a general enquiry about services. Another silver lining was this also meant an increase in conversion rates.

In hesitant times, the purse strings tighten. We saw the average sales cycles increase, most likely due to revised budgets. The decision-making process was taking far longer, with more levels of sign-off from decisions makers before making the final commitment, due to sensitivity around spending.

Reaching a turning point

In the past 8 weeks I’ve noticed a significant change in attitude to outsourcing sales and marketing, and the decision-making process has streamlined and accelerated. In my opinion, this can be attributed to decision makers accepting and adapting to the ‘new normal’ and making that leap of faith to reinvigorate their sales and marketing plans.

With internal teams being furloughed, the flexibility and scalability of the outsourced sales and marketing model has an additional appeal to businesses right now and we have seen a growth in our enquiries from prospects looking to outsource.

Ultimately, there was no playbook for surviving sales in a global pandemic and companies have had to keep selling and building the pipeline for a life beyond lockdown. I feel like my perspective has certainly shifted. As a sales team we’ve adapted our approach and it’s been a good thing that we’ve been able to have empathetic conversations with our customers and prospects, as all good partnerships are based on honesty. Now more than ever, it’s important to be human and employ empathy and reassurance in our business and personal lives.

Opinion piece by Marco Alfano-Rogers
Sales Director, Air Marketing

Lingual and cultural diversity in telemarketing

In the words of Paulo Coelho: Culture makes people understand each other better. And if they have a deeper understanding of one another, it is easier to overcome the economic and political barriers. But first they have to understand that their neighbour is, in the end, just like them, with the same problems and the same questions.

The days of selling our items to each other village to village (think the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker), face to face, are long past us. In my opinion, today we are selling our “technoproducts” and services via the digital superhighways to people all around the world. In this more tech focused world we work with “turbomachinerie” with “flashcapacities”.

Despite the fast changes that have happened and continue to happen in our selling culture, the culture of individual human beings who are ultimately the end users being sold to, are slower to change.

Culture within individuals heavily influence their choices – how to cook, speak, act, dress etc. These cultures are as diverse now as they were centuries ago, but they are changing and need to be kept up with. For example, the English culture of 1782 would not be the same as the one we experience in 2020. This is the same for all cultures French, German, Dutch etc. Culture is a living and changing thing.

So why is this relevant?

As a company we embrace this cultural diversity (including languages) as it enriches not only our teams and our methodology to solve problems and challenges, but it also benefits our clients and prospects. We find that a diverse team will find many solutions to a problem – whether that is within our business or within a client’s business.

At Air Marketing, we celebrate the German Karneval, we celebrate the Oranjekoorts during Koningsdag, we welcome the tartiflette and merguez on our lunch or BBQ and embrace the culture and language of our clients and prospects. By speaking their mother tongue we understand certain cultural differences (for example the directness of the Dutch Dutch-speaking market in comparison with the gentle tone of the Belgian Dutch-speaking market). All this out of respect of our clients and prospects and of course to do business together.

Wouter Vanaelst Background

Wouter was born and raised in Belgium, right on the linguistic border. His mother tongue is Flemish/Dutch and from a very early age he also learnt French and German. After studying in Brussels and gaining 2 academic degrees in Educational Sciences and Art & Cultural Andragogy, he then went on to work for 7 years as an Educational and Client Services Officer for the Centrale Culturelle Bruxelloise. In this role his focus was monitoring and researching the social and economic climate alongside organising and delivering marketing and recruitment campaigns

Wouter also spent 2 years in Africa conducting research on the educational & socio-economic challenges, whilst learning to overcome many logistical and cultural obstacles. Wouter moved to the UK in 2015, his first role in the UK was teaching French and German classes as an associate lecturer. Alongside this he worked with international companies analysing business to customer (B2C) communication in Dutch, French and German.

Wouter is now heading up the Multilingual offering for Air Marketing Group, helping businesses open up opportunities within strong economic countries such as Germany, France and Holland.  

Wouter is fascinated by cultural and linguistic differences, how people choose to act, speak and work differently and in understanding this looking at how to make bridges in between cultures and languages. Wouter does not believe in uniformity, he believes every language, culture and client have different needs that require a bespoke approach. This includes adapting to cultural manners, working with native speakers who have native accents and cultural knowledge.

“Every language you speak is another market that opens up to you.”

Interested in talking to me about our multilingual offering? Contact me directly on 01392 575282 or complete our contact form here.  

Wouter Vanaelst
Senior Business Development Executive Multilingual, Air Marketing Group

It all starts with a Hello

I’ve recently seen the launch of a new Netflix show called; Love is Blind. The concept is a dating show based purely on building an emotional connection; you cannot see the person you’re dating meaning that verbal communication is at the forefront. This got me thinking about the importance of communication and the part it plays in our lives. 

The question that I’ve been thinking about is; as the world becomes more digitally driven, do we lose the ability to effectively communicate?  

As children, human interactive and communication was key to us – we learnt, explored and discovered, utilising these key skills. But as you develop through your childhood (especially in today’s world) you become more digitally aware and communication becomes stagnant, if not regressive. Lives are busy – we take to texting, Facebook messages, WhatsApp groups and sending voice notes via media platforms rather than simply picking up the phone or speaking to someone in person.  

The digital evolution has enabled many things – it has allowed us to reach a larger audience, it’s broken down borders as distance makes no difference and it allows us to target more people. But it always comes at a price. What we lose is the ability to learn about individuals in depth and really get to know each other as you would when communicating face to face or over the phone. 

Have we become numb to this digital communication? How many emails do you delete without even taking any notice of them? How many adverts do you quickly scroll past on social media? How many times have you paused someone midway through a conversation and ignored them? My point is that communication needs engaged interaction from two people – it can’t be a one-way street. Strong communication builds trust and relationships which is imperative to business success.  

The simplest and most effective form of communication continues to be through two-way conversation. I find in a business environment when you can’t always meet people, a phone call will create a connection. There is always a place for this to be supported with digital communication, when time is short or quick messages are required instantly and digital applications allow us to work smart. But I haven’t come across another method of relationship building that can even closely compete with a conversation.  

What my time at Air has taught me is whether you are talking to a client, customer or colleague, conversation is always the best way to discover the information you need. In a people centric world lets focus on those basic human interactions, pick up the phone speak to your customers and if you don’t have the capacity to do that then you may just be looking in the right place for someone to do it for you.  

It all starts with a hello so why not take the time to talk to us today. 

Alex Burgess
Account Manager, Air Marketing Group

Build a team so strong, you don’t know who the leader is

We’re all in this together. We are all colleagues, regardless of job title. We all work together to achieve the same goal, to make a difference for our clients, make the company a profit and ultimately get paid. When people start feeling undervalued for doing the role they do, we have a problem. Have you ever heard a colleague say, ‘what does it matter what I think’ or ‘my opinion doesn’t count’? Your opinion does count and yes, I would like to hear what you think.

We want to know how our colleagues feel and what they believe would work better. Having this feedback means we can make a difference and help.

Loyalty and commitment come from feeling valued. Feeling valued comes from respect and inclusion. Yes, roles within an organisation vary and so does workload, but every single person is here for one common goal. We win together and sometimes we lose together, but we are a team.

Some of the best results I have seen have come from people who have felt empowered to make a change. Some of the best ideas have come from people who have felt their opinion counts. When we feel we are able to have an input and suggest improvements, we work with a different vigour and we push ourselves. Not doing this is a sure-fire way to lose your best talent.

Encourage feedback. What’s working and what isn’t? What will make the process better? From my perspective things might look right – but that’s just my perspective. Tell me how it looks from yours. None of us are perfect and we can all make mistakes or miss things, but as a team we can get it right.

In my opinion Air has got this balance right. We have regular catch-up sessions with all of our team members to review performance and processes. Not just as individuals, but as a team. Everyone has the chance to input and everyone has the chance to challenge. Feedback is essential to ensuring we get things right. It’s not a dictatorship, it’s a company which nurtures and nourishes its staff to ensure we all give our best and strive to achieve. Every role is valued and every person within each role understands the impact they have. With this comes an immense sense of comradery – a team so strong that you wouldn’t know who the leader is.

Opinion piece by Account Manager, Michael Hepburn.

My 5 Tips to Personal Development

I started my journey with Air Marketing back in 2018 as a Business Development Executive. I really enjoyed the role, the culture and the opportunities that were clearly available from this position. But I was hungry for growth and I knew I wanted to develop my career, within the first year I quickly excelled and was rewarded with the management of my first account. I was thrilled by this opportunity to really show what I was made of and also to give the client the best experience of working with Air.

Fast forward to today, just over a year later and I’m stepping into one of just three Account Manager roles, with my sole focus to deliver ROI for our ever-growing client base.

I wanted to share with you how I got here, so these are my 5 focus areas:

Training

I’m a huge believer in achieving anything, if you’re willing to learn and open to change. Within my time at Air I’ve had the opportunity to learn from various senior team members and taken part in some fantastic training sessions. These have been vital to my progression as it doesn’t feel like I have ever stopped learning. My favourite training was a Time Management session run by our in-house Learning and Development Co-ordinator. It taught me how to balance my workload and keep stress levels under control, which is vital in a fast pace, high performance environment like Air.

Feedback

I may be a Gen Z; however I don’t agree with snowflake culture that the generation has been tarred with. I value and really take on board feedback from those more knowledgeable both inside and outside of work to aid my professional development. Sometimes the feedback has been negative, but I always feel you can take learnings and constructive criticism from these moments. Being in sales I have a tough skin anyway!

Honesty

Yes, honesty. I’ve always taken the approach of transparency with my colleagues and clients. It’s something that fits well in our culture and something we pride ourselves on at Air. You can’t lie when it comes to statistics and data. If you’re honest with clients this will create a strong and respectful relationship for the future.

Creative thinking

A large proportion of my role is process driven, with this we see consistency of delivery and of results. However, you need to be one step ahead in account management. This means you need to be thinking of new ideas all the time to keep things fresh. Nine times out of ten your original strategy is going to change, and you will need to adapt to this to keep on the front foot.

Passion

I believe that passion is the biggest thing you need to get to the next step. I love what I do, and I am lucky to work in a culture that nurtures that passion and ignites it even further. Being dedicated to reach your goal is important and it is this drive and dedication that will see you become successful.

I’m looking forward to everything 2020 has in store in my new role, working with more fantastic clients and achieving great results for them. If you’re interested in joining Team Air, visit our careers page or call 0345 241 3038.

Opinion piece by Gracie-May Bryan, Account Manager at Air Marketing Group