MEET THE TEAM: Steve Brackstone, Area Sales Manager - Lorry Loaders
The truth of the matter is that work within manufacturing and engineering actually offers varied, rewarding and diverse careers with good pay and the chance of a dynamic long-term career. Our sector has much to offer and by helping others understand this we will give them every reason to want to get involved. Manufacturing and engineering offers people the chance to choose the career path that is right for them. Whether it's to ‘earn and learn’ as an apprentice or join industry as a graduate, the fact is that there are so many options to choose from!
It’s essential that we get this message out there so that more young people feel inspired to pursue a great career in our sector. We're launching a series of career profiles within the lifting equipment industry to really show how diverse careers can be within our sector. This week we talk to Steve Brackstone, Area Sales Manager - Lorry Loaders.
What does the role involve?
I’m responsible for vehicle mounted lifting equipment sales in the South of England. I’m also the first point of contact for our network of overseas distributor partners who sell our equipment globally - from Australia to Benelux!
On a day to day basis I take calls and respond to emails from existing and prospective customers (sales leads) who need help specifying the right lifting equipment for their unique application. It’s my responsibility to ensure I ask the right questions so that I can advise them on the best product, or range of products that will meet their needs. Not all lorry loaders are suitable for installation on all vehicles – considerations such as the vehicle payload and the working environment have to be considered. I have to ensure that all relevant factors are discussed and taken into account.
To make sure we have the best chance of winning new business over our competitors, it’s important that I follow up all sales leads quickly and give the contact the information they need. Typically, this is a quotation for the product that, following my assessment, best suits their needs along with supporting information, such as; dimensional drawings, weights and dimensions of the product, and our terms and conditions of sale. I also include relevant technical and safety information covering topics such as relevant legislation & regulations, safe installation of their equipment, lorry loader training and maintenance requirements too.
In addition to reacting quickly to new sales leads, it’s equally important for me to proactively engage with our existing customer base to find out about any potential new business that may be coming our way. This can be via large national tenders. It’s also key that I continually update our customers with information about any enhancements to product design that we’re going to release, or new products that we’re going to launch that they may benefit from. Every day I’m on the road visiting new and existing customers, seeing their lifting problems first hand and discussing possible solutions with them.
I conduct product demonstrations at our customers premises too – this involves me taking one of our specially designing demo vehicles which has a range of our cranes and hydraulic lifts installed so that customers can try the equipment out themselves first hand prior to committing to the purchase.
Managing our overseas distributor network means I often work outside the UK too, travelling by plane and sometimes by ferry. Typically, I work and stay away from home 2 days per week.
What skills and qualifications are desirable for this role?
Generally, there is no typical qualification requirement for a sales position. For my role though, good knowledge of commercial vehicles is really beneficial. I’ve also up-skilled whilst in the job - completing a series of ALLMI accredited training courses which has really boosted my knowledge, particularly in relation to lorry loader operation and statutory testing of lorry loaders.
What personal attributes are required?
Being a people person is vital. To succeed in sales, it’s essential to build relationships with perspective customers and work hard to maintain good working relationships with existing customers too. By being a trusted friend that’s available to our customers, answering their queries and giving them the quality information they need in an efficient and professional manner it’s more likely the contact will buy from us and continue to buy from us moving forwards.
Being a good listener is essential too. You must listen carefully and ask the right questions to make sure all key information is captured in order to specify equipment that’s the best fit for the client.
What type of previous experience is needed / preferable?
Prior to taking on this position, I actually managed the conversions of commercial vehicles, so I’m used to working around vans and trucks – I’d actually installed loads of Penny Hydraulics cranes myself in my previous role prior to taking on this sales role! My route probably isn’t the typical route into sales, but having such good knowledge about commercial vehicles and lorry loaders prior to taking on the position has definitely helped me and having a huge network of industry contacts to draw from already in place, I feel this put me in a good position going into the role.
Who do you work with in the role?
I work independently, and I don’t often work physically alongside my colleagues, however, I keep in very close contact with our sales team which is made up of staff based at our HQ in Clowne, Chesterfield and fellow sales managers who are based throughout the UK – we stay in touch by phone and email. We’re managed by a Sales Director who I’m in contact with pretty much every day.
What would the typical hours be (e.g. office hours, Monday to Friday)?
My contracted hours are 08:30- 17:00 Monday to Friday, but in order to fit in with customers schedules, I work much earlier and later too when required.
Climbing the ladder - what are the routes of progression and related occupations that this role could lead to?
From managing commercial vehicle conversions to selling cranes and hydraulic lifts – I think my career move just goes to show that one opportunity often leads to another. I never thought I would go into lorry loader sales - it’s just something that evolved naturally and I’m really happy I made the decision to try something different. What the future holds? Who knows, all I can say is that I’m happy in my current role, so we’ll have to see!