Career Path

Selling to the top tier

by Ella Lee

Sales - Membership Services
Marina Leung
Senior Sales Manager
Betterwin (Membership) Ltd.

Selling membership services is very different from selling ordinary products and services. The work is more relaxed and the rewards, both in terms of income and job satisfaction, are higher.

"I have never regarded myself as a salesperson," says Marina Leung, Senior Sales Manager at Betterwin (Membership) Ltd. who has been with the company for five years. "We're not selling goods, or ordinary services. This is about being nice and friendly to our clients, introducing them something good and elegant for their leisure and enjoyment. It's kind of a prestige; we offer quality of life. Our clients always appreciate this and welcome our services."

Ms Leung worked in the hotel industry for six years before she joined Betterwin, a membership consultancy company established in 1996 as the sole and exclusive agent of the Macau Jockey Club (MJC), which has clubhouse facilities in both Macau and Hong Kong. After joining the sales team, she found the job was not as tough as similar sales positions in other industries.

Company support

A tremendous amount of company support is a key factor, according to Ms Leung. The company not only already has a full list of potential clients including renowned businessmen and entrepreneurs, leading figures from different professions, well-known identities from the entertainment industry and prominent socialites, but its telemarketers can also help promote the membership services, identify interested parties and arrange appointments.

Sales executives, as a result, are not required to start from scratch looking for new customers and making cold calls. Instead, they are mainly responsible for customer visits, which are usually carried out during office hours. Besides, the company also provides them with good training in sales techniques.

According to Ms Leung, the job offers a rare opportunity to meet celebrities and be exposed to a circle of upper-class people. She says: "It is such a pleasure to meet all those successful and knowledgeable people and there is so much to learn [from them]."

The job is also rewarding in monetary terms, says Ms Leung, whose highest earning reached $90,000 in one month. "As our membership is worth tens of thousands to over a hundred thousand [dollars], once a salesperson gets five to six customers, which is actually a very small number, monthly earnings of $20,000-$30,000 can be secured."

"Never give up any potential customer. Being turned down is basically due to wrong timing. The client may be just too busy, not in the mood, or not yet satisfied with the existing package. One day, they may change their mind"

No single rule of thumb

Different sales managers have their own style and work their own way. There is no single rule of thumb in selling membership services, says Ms Leung. She believes a pleasant and outgoing personality is always preferred and agrees that her previous experience as hotel group coordinator serving corporate and overseas clients in organizing conferences and events did help her pick up her current work at the initial stages.

Betterwin used to only employ experienced salesmen but recently a fresh graduate has been employed, who has proven to be outstanding with his hard work and willing-to-learn attitude, according to Ms Leung.

The most important attributes are intelligence and salesmanship, and that is why the company does not insist on academic qualifications such as a university degree. Although language skills are welcome, especially Mandarin, they are not required, as Cantonese is the language most often used with clients.

Enhanced sales skills

Staff career development always aligns with company growth. MJC is a leading clubhouse in Hong Kong and, according to Ms Leung, the company continues to upgrade its products - most recently they added two reciprocal golf clubs in China, - and to expand membership, which currently stands at over 8,000.

The company's clubhouse business keeps growing despite the economic recession, according to Ms Leung. She says: "The market is there. Stock market fluctuations, or the September 11 terrorist attacks might have had an adverse effect for a while, but it rather is an issue of being in the mood [to buy] than [having enough] money."

Regarding advancement opportunities outside the company, Ms Leung believes that the wide exposure and sophisticated sales training at Betterwin can help one to move upward in the sales profession, and give a good grounding which can later be helpful in any industry.

China Opportunities

People experienced in sales will come across opportunities. "They [mainland clubhouses] tend to recruit Hong Kong talent, since well-trained locals for top positions are not yet available in sufficient numbers. It's true for many industries, including hotel management," says Ms Leung.

Ms Leung points out that on the whole, the clubhouse business in China is still in its infancy, but the country has huge potentials. At Betterwin, those interested in a mainland exposure can ask for a transfer to the company's Guangzhou office.

Figures for reference only   K='000

Taken from Career Times 09 August 2002, p. 32
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