Real Model interview episode #18 featuring Abi West, Sales Manager at Marshall Motor Group

Abi West
What is your job and what does it involve?

I am the sales manager for Land Rover in Bedford. The biggest part of my role is to motivate and spend time with my team and make sure they stay on track to achieve their targets and to coach and develop them to be the best they can be, along with managing the new and used car stock to ensure they are advertised, priced and prepped correctly. We also have strict manufacturing guidelines to adhere to which needs to be managed continuously.

Tell us about your career path.

My first full time job was in commercial vehicle rentals and I worked in the operational side of the day to day running of the branch. I quickly realised that I was good with people and sales seems to be a great way to earn money which led me to my next role as a sales executive for Car Supermarket. This was a brutal role that involved spending a lot of time standing on the never-ending car forecourt waiting for customers to arrive, however, I soon picked up the sales process and loved the time I spent with customers. Having decided that spending the winter standing on a forecourt wasn’t for me, my friend approached me from Marshall Vauxhall in Peterborough to work as a sales executive there. This was my first introduction to a main dealer and working with a manufacturer and I have to say I absolutely loved it, this became my passion for the next 2 years.

I quickly grew to want more of a challenge and wanted to further my knowledge and I was offered the opportunity to learn a different side to the motoring world as a finance broker, this allowed me to work closely with many different finance lenders and gain a greater understanding of how finance deals are put together. After another 2 years or so, an opportunity to work for Marshall Land Rover Bedford as a sales executive arose. An opportunity to work with a prestige brand and one that’s has been in my family ever since I can remember. So for the last 8 years, I have gone from a Sales Executive to a Transaction Manager to my current role as Sales Manager.

Tell us about how you went about securing your first promotion?

The sales department’s performance out grew the current team and they were allowed to recruit an additional Transaction Manager to continue the growth of the business. I felt like I wanted a different challenge and was ready to take on more responsibility. After an interview followed by passing the Marshall Assessment Centre, I was given the role as Transaction Manager.

What’s the biggest challenge you've faced at work and how did you overcome this?

One of the biggest challenges I have faced is recruiting the right quality and quantity of sales executives. When we opened our new facility in May 2018, the task was to take the sales team from 4 sales executives to 8. At this point in my career, recruitment was very new to me and being able to assess the ability after an hour’s conversation with someone and knowing how they will fit with our current team was a challenge. I quickly learnt that finding the right candidate with the right skill sets to complement our existing team was far more important than just filling a space. In addition to this, I have learnt the importance of a thorough induction for our staff and regular meetings with two-way feedback is a progressive start to their career.

What are your future aspirations?

I would like to remain within Marshall as I believe they show a real passion for developing their people. I do aspire to become a Head of Business. In my current role, I’ve been successful with coaching and developing my team which has given me a great deal of job satisfaction and has provided the company with some outstanding colleagues. As a result of this, one of the job roles that would also interest me would be coaching and development.

How do you ensure you have a work life balance?

Quite honestly, my life is very busy! I live on an equestrian yard which I manage in addition to my full-time job and also have my horses which take up a huge amount of my personal time. I’m lucky because I love every part of my life and I think it makes the days easier when you love what you do but I do ensure that I have a structure to every working day and this means that I achieve all of my daily goals.

What did you want to be growing up?

Anything to do with horses, they were my life growing up and any spare minute was spent at the stables with my pony. I would have quite happily worked with them every single day but the equestrian world is very expensive and working with them every day is not financially feasible.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

My horses. I have 3 horses and I am lucky enough that they are right outside my house so I get to spend a lot of time with them.

Which word or phrase do you most overuse?

I am a very positive person and one of the phrases I find myself using is ‘it could be worse’!

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

There is no shortcut to success and you get out of life what you put in.

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