Honestly, I had no idea what I wanted to be when I started university, nor did I have any better clue whilst I was on my course!
I knew I wanted variety and the ability to work with different people, but beyond that I couldn’t think what specifically I wanted. This changed when I visited the BT stand at a careers fair and found that they are more than just a phone company and about their BT graduate programme.
When I first started, I spent most of the year shadowing various people within the sales department to gain more understanding of the business. I worked on a variety of projects, from increasing customer satisfaction to measuring performance of sales people, and success in one of these projects prompted the head of field sales to offer me a job driving his strategy and transforming his area.
My week at BT
I’m sitting on the 09.00 train to London, for a meeting about understanding our customer segments, when I get a call from another graduate asking for my help. On this occasion, Altaf, who leads the BT Muslim Network, needs some advice on some project plans we have in place for the current year. We arrange to get together after my meeting to discuss the projects.
I get into the office by 10.30 and make my way up to the meeting room. Many other employees are in a similar position to me, in that they want to gain an understanding of what our business customers look like in terms of their buying preferences and what segment they fit into. As a campaign manager, I need to understand almost every piece of insight we have on our business customers so I can create specific campaigns and focused activity.
After the meeting, I meet with Altaf and over a coffee we discuss progress on our plans. Every year, part of the objectives of the BT Muslim Network is to deliver some key programmes, of which I am involved in three out of four and leading on one. We discuss where we are in relation to our deadlines and potential showstoppers.
As the leader on website development, I update Altaf on what we hope to achieve. I leave Altaf and BT Centre and make my way back home to Birmingham.
Today I find myself in the Birmingham office attending a workshop with people from different parts of BT, with one aim: to create a bespoke product for a customer. In the room are my manager, the sales person who looks after the customer, the head of mobile sales and a representative from marketing.
The workshop lasts for a couple of hours as we all thrash out what products and pricing we can offer this customer, who operates in the alarm monitoring market and is looking to diversify and offer more to their customers.
All ideas are welcome and regardless of the seniority in the room, I find the atmosphere relaxed and feel that I am able to make a valid contribution.
Being a graduate has certain expectations associated with it: the people you work with seem to think you are always bubbling with new ideas. When I first started I didn’t think this was the case and was always worried that I hadn’t come up with anything new.
This changes over time as you begin to gain a better understanding of the business area and organisation you work in and start to add real value. As such, another one of my roles is around business improvement; proactively identifying and researching ways in which, as a sales channel, we can do more with less. Not less as in people, less as in effort.
We’re always trying to do things better, simpler, faster and of course cheaper and today I am engaged in doing just that.
I get up early and drive to Coventry to meet with an external company who claim to reduce the amount of driving time our sales people do by ensuring we have efficiencies in matching our customers to our sales people. I meet them at their offices and they take me through their software, which uses satellite navigation to calculate how long it takes for each sales person to visit their customers.
They advise that by utilising this software, we can see which sales people should serve which customers to ensure huge savings both in mileage per month and the time our sales people spend driving. Obviously this software comes at a costly price. I arrange for the company to deliver a formal pitch to both my manager and I and ask that they write a formal proposal.
Today I have a number of meetings in London and get an early train, as I want to meet up with another colleague to discuss an idea he had and how we can develop it further. We joined BT at the same time and worked in the same team for the best part of a year, so it will be good to catch up.
I get into London and meet Carl. We discuss how best to move the idea along and who we need to engage with to gain support and ultimately a view as to whether or not it would be feasible.
This is another reason why I like working in sales, as it’s not just about selling. There is so much opportunity for creativity and innovation and being at the forefront in terms of customer contact really helps drive that innovation further.
After meeting Carl, I go to meet someone who will help arrange a customer event for my planned campaign on retail customers. I already have an idea of what I would like, but as I have never been involved in such customer events I need all the help I can get.
We discuss venues, content, suitable presenters and agree a set of dates. I now have to ensure that the sales people get customers on board and registered for the event.
The flexibility of my job allows me to work from home, which is great as I especially don’t like travelling on a Friday and it’s a good way to catch up on any admin before the weekend. Most of today is filled with conference calls, both for the operational aspects of my job and the work I do in addition, like the BT Muslim Network.
The first call is about a recent campaign I launched to promote our mobile portfolio amongst our customers. The campaign was designed to generate as many potential sales as possible, centred on our mobile offerings. This call was set up to gain feedback from the sales teams to help for future campaigns.
A few emails later, I have a call with Altaf. I send him the details of my live meeting and he logs on. He can now see whatever I share with him from my laptop. I show him the site design and he likes it instantly. He is keen to get this up and running as quickly as possible, but I let him know that due to my current workload I’m not really going to be able to redesign the whole site exactly when he wants it. I assure him that I will be able to get this ready for a couple of months time.
I then make a call to Mark, someone who has been working on retail solutions for a number of years, about building the content of a workshop to kick off the retail campaign.
Mark sends me a presentation and gives some really good advice on how the workshop should run. He gives the names of two other contacts (sales people) that have had success with retail customers, and advises me to get in touch with them to ask if they can present at the workshop to give others a view of what they did and how they did it.
The day ends with many tasks complete for the week and many more to do next week, but now it’s my time!