One important employment ‘split’ which is often perceived to run down the supply-side of the Language Services industry is the division between Operations and Sales. Despite plentiful joking and stereotypes associated with the two groups, top LSPs depend on synergy between these units as one of the keys to their success, and career moves from Operations to Sales are relatively common.
To explore this topic, we spoke with Kristine Berry, Global Sales & Marketing Director at Capita TI, who made the move from Operations to Sales. She told us about her experiences and how she made the leap in Language Services.
To get things started regarding your own trajectory in the industry, can you talk me through your career to date?
Kristine: Yes of course. I did a BA in Interpreting and Translations in German and Spanish at Salford University . Languages have always intrigued me and I always knew it was an industry I would one day love to go into.
The next step into localisation was to do my Master’s degree but it wasn’t something I was ready to do. So I joined the Aldi Graduate program. I worked there as an Area Manager for 3 years then decided to go for my Master’s degree in Interpreting, again at Salford University. During this time I completed a module on Project Management, which is not something I had thought about previously, but it really grabbed my interest. Once I graduated I decided that I wanted to work within Project Management.
I gained a role with Lloyd International Translations (now Welocalize) in November 2010. There I progressed from Project Manager to Senior Project Manager, working on the UK’s largest accounts. This role became more Account Management focused. When Capita approached me about an Account Management role I was delighted and made the move across in November 2012.
Within 2 months I was tasked with establishing an Account Management team which grew from 2 to 5 employees. Within 6 months I started work on strategic accounts. Most recently I have also taken on the Marketing department and have restructured the whole Sales and Marketing teams. Now both sides of the business are my responsibility, and I hold the position of Global Sales and Marketing Director.
When did you start thinking about moving from Operations into Sales? Was it a conscious decision?
I actually approached the CEO at Capita to say that we were missing a trick in strategic new business and that I wanted to try it; and he challenged me to do it. In Strategic Sales it is more about offering our clients solutions to their problems, not so much about cold calling.
What skills did you gain on the Operations side of the industry which are transferable to your Sales position?
All of them! Within operations I gained a huge amount of knowledge on the business and what Capita means, the terminology and the inside technical knowledge, BPP workflows, design work etc. This has given me a good understanding of the business and it’s not just sales — Capita is growing quickly and we need to drive the business strategy.
What do you think are the benefits of employing Sales people with good hands-on experience of Operations?
Credibility. They have the independence and the confidence to know about production processes in detail. They are able to get involved with new business as they can use their experience to drive the conversation further from the beginning.
And do you advise clients of your background when you speak with them?
Yes I do, I now have over 10 years’ experience within the industry if I count my education.
The move from Operations to Sales was different; operational people can think of sales as the dark side. Coming from a production background gives me a huge amount of confidence in my team. I can advise staff of this transformation and they relate to it. I am quite often told how passionate I am, not just about my role but about the whole industry. What can I say — I’m a language fanatic!
How did you have to adapt through the change?
I had to become more commercially aware, but I had a good perspective on this from my time at Aldi.
I now have 4–5 members on my sales team who have come from operations. They are able to understand and get involved in the profit and loss and forecasting which is extremely important to Capita. Plus, they know how to focus on clients. I know it’s a sweeping statement but I think some Project Managers are afraid of picking up the phone and just checking in with their clients.
Moving from Operations to Account Management and then into New Business Sales allows staff to have the most confidence to succeed.
How did you find the transformation from a basic salary with little or no bonuses to being on a bonus and commission structure?
When I first moved across to Sales it was a bit of a shock for me. I never had bonuses or commission previously. But over time I have learned that Sales people absolutely earn their bonuses and commission through the hard work they put it. They create something from nothing.
Do you have any advice for those looking to make a move from Operations to Sales?
Go for it! Don’t be afraid, speak to colleagues and gain advice. Sales is not about doing 70–80 calls a day. It’s about enjoying the rapport-building with your clients, having the relationships with them and wanting to provide them with the best customer service possible. It’s worth doing!
Do you think it is beneficial to go into Account Management first before new business sales?
Yes definitely, there is not so much pressure. Capita push for expansion, but if our customers are giving us all of their localisation spend, we should be providing them with exceptional service, allowing our staff to grow the confidence to move into new business.
As an Account Manager there is no ceiling, and lots more progression. People always think progression is about becoming a people manager, but taking a side-step to Account Management has opened up so many doors and opportunities for me. Bringing revenue into the business and achieving sales targets is a great responsibility.
David: Thank you so much Kristine. Did you have anything to add?
Kristine: Yes — If you want to progress and be successful, don’t wait for it. Work hard and make it happen for yourself. If you persist it will open so many doors for you!
David James is the Managing Director of Adaptive Business Group. He works with the executive leadership of LSPs on a global level, consulting on growth strategy through human capital and acquisition.
Feel free to reach out to David on LinkedIn for a networking conversation.
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