Q. Tell us about your role at RX and how you arrived here
A. I head up the International Sales Group (ISG) of RX which is a specialist team of 150 international sales people based in 13 territories around the world. The ISG also manages a network of 250 international agents based in 47 territories. We support clients who wish to build and grow their businesses internationally by offering opportunities at any one of the 400+ RX shows in the 22 countries and 43 industry sectors we serve. I came into RX eleven years ago to build up our global agent network. I was new to the exhibition industry, having previously worked in airlines and travel management, with much of my career being overseas.
Q. How have your sales teams supported their markets through the pandemic, and how have customers responded?
A. International business has been hit especially hard because of the restrictions on cross border travel. The evolving nature of the pandemic and the constantly changing disruption of travel and events meant that we had to keep our clients continually updated with the situation, often rolling over their bookings from one event to another. They were understandably incredibly frustrated but considerate of the nature of the situation being beyond anyone’s control. What has been clear is that participating at a face to face event is a crucial marketing channel and that the vast majority of our clients have wanted to maintain their participation in our live events, albeit postponed. If there is a silver lining to the past twenty months it is that we have built closer relationships to many of our customers through increased connection and empathy.
Q. What impact has Covid-19 had on what your teams sell, and how they sell it?
A. During a time when face to face events could not happen there was an amazing pivot to digital participation – purely digital events initially, and hybrid formats as our shows have returned. Whilst we had digital products prior to the pandemic this was no preparation for what came. It was an incredible learning curve for all involved – the event teams, the product managers, the sales people and of course the customers. The aim for all at RX was to continue to deliver ongoing value and for our customers to gain value at a time when a major marketing channel was disrupted. Apart from the need to learn about the functionality of our new digital tools and platforms, and how to explain their value to clients, the actual selling was not difficult – focusing on the value the products offers and how they addressed client needs in this special situation. Ultimately it is always about giving the client the chance to connect with existing or new customers. As the situation was new to everyone there was a strong sense of ‘we are all in this together’ and ready to try new solutions.
Q. RX is “in the business of building businesses”. How is this reflected in the customer sales experience?
A. Supporting our customers in building their businesses requires that we understand the environment they operate in, we deepen our knowledge of their business and identify their unique objectives. We can then discuss with them what solution we can deliver with a customised combination of products and services that delivers real value. We expect our sales people to be consultative, always offering a solution based on a particular client’s needs. No customer should have a transactional experience – if they do we have failed to fully understand their needs.
Q. What training and career development opportunities can a new sales recruit at RX expect?
A. A new sales recruit into RX first and foremost knows they will be selling truly worthwhile products and services that deliver measurable value to our customers ‒ we truly are in the business of building businesses. With this confidence is added a learning and development regime which focuses on value based selling, emphasising the need to fully understand a client’s particular needs with consultative selling. The nature of our diverse events means that a sales person has the opportunity to work on different and varied industries, all of them interesting and leading to the acquisition of new knowledge and skills. The type of client can vary enormously – from large multi-nationals to small but passionate enterprises. Once you consistently succeed at selling, have proven you understand our products and what is valuable to our clients, you can move to any role in event management.
Q. What excites you most about the year ahead for RX’s sales community?
A. I am excited by the prospect of our business coming back strongly and the many sales that lay ahead. The nature of what we do is to create market places and bring buyers and sellers together. I am bullish about the nature of the people and companies involved and their need to be driving sales or acquiring new products or services. The pandemic has disrupted this and the customer sentiment we see is strongly in favour of re-establishing relationships or building new ones. This makes the sales persons job very exciting and rewarding!