Flora Law's years of experience have taught her a thing or two about sales. She knows that salespeople are often the face of the company and that they are expected to be fast learners, well presented and good talkers.
As a manager she understands that coaching and training are vital for salespeople to deliver peak performance. Perhaps most importantly, she realises that though there will be setbacks along the way, by accepting this, a career in sales offers plenty of opportunities for success.
Ms Law, sales general manager (Pacific Region) of Asia Vision Technology Limited, joined the company as business development manager in 2001. Three years later, she was promoted to senior regional sales manager and recently she has become sales general manager, supervising a team of sales professionals. Ms Law puts her success down to hard work. "I have always had a passion for my work and persistence to achieve goals. I spend lots of time updating my knowledge every day so that I can provide optimal solutions for my clients and gain their trust," she says.
Working for a technology company, Ms Law explains, a background in engineering or computer science is an advantage but not a necessity. "I am a marketing graduate. To work in sales, personal attributes such as an outgoing character, learning ability and a positive mindset are often more significant than having the right qualifications. Selling is people oriented rather than technology oriented." Still, knowledge of the company's products is crucial. "Our business is highly technical and the company is helpful in expanding my knowledge in new fields," she says.
Ms Law is actively involved in coaching others and helping them to enhance their skills and knowledge. "Coaching is extremely important in our challenging profession. Salespeople should be prepared to face lots of ups and downs because while there are times when deals can be successfully closed, it is unrealistic to expect clients will always accept your proposals. In my role I need to ensure that members of my team are equipped with adequate knowledge. At the same time, I must help them manage their mood swings as a result of the inevitable disappointments in the process of selling," she says.
"If you can accept setbacks, you're on the road to success"
Ensuring "peak performance" from her team is also part of the job. To achieve this she focuses on the particular needs of each individual. "Selling is both an art and a science. It requires continuous fine-tuning and constant practice. Everybody's skills get rusty over time and things are in a constant state of change, including competition, markets, technologies and preferences," she says. "I particularly enjoy chairing sales meetings because I can help staff solve problems and pass on knowledge and skills to them. I always encourage open communication within the team."
Ms Law is proud to be a member of the sales team. "We are the company's ambassadors to the outside world. A corporation's investment in producing a new product and launching a sound marketing campaign will bear fruit if the right sales team is in place," she points out.
Sales professionals are a bridge between the client and the technical team. They protect clients' interests by providing them with the best solution while also aiming for the best profit margin for the company. "On the one hand, we make sure that what clients want is realistic and feasible. On the other, we want our technical team to give their best to deliver the most benefits to clients. Communication and negotiation skills are crucial," Ms Law explains.
She believes an ideal sales team is one in which everyone achieves their best possible performance under minimal supervision and that this can be achieved at Asia Vision by improving the existing system. "I plan to spend more time on training, strategic planning and internal management improvement in the future," she says.
A career in sales offers attractive rewards. Remuneration normally consists of basic salary plus commission, which increases in line with achievement. At Asia Vision, members of the sales team enjoy overseas travel opportunities as the company regularly participates in global exhibitions. Ms Law says that these provide valuable international experience and networking opportunities.
"This is a largely result-oriented business," Ms Law stresses, adding that sales professionals must accept the fact that rejections are unavoidable at times and so a healthy work-life balance is important for sustainable performance. "If you can accept setbacks, you're on the road to success," she says.