What has been your personal highlight of 2020?
I won a major new client in February, then worked with them throughout lockdown, and together we achieved three consecutive record-breaking months. And the high spot for the last two years has been a grandchild a year! A third is on the way but could either be a 2020 pandemic baby or 2021 baby, it's up to them.
Which three celebrities would you invite to a Zoom party?
Having spent so much time locked down with minimal opportunity to meet and talk to anyone. I think I would like a random selection of three and see what comes out of it.
What has been your guiltiest lockdown pleasure?
Malbec, Chianti, Barola, Ameroni, Repasso, Pol Roger, Bollinger, Digby Fine English (luxury English sparkling wine self-described as sophisticated yet racy)…there is a trend developing here!
Which tech figurehead has inspired you most this year, and why?
Mike Norris. He has been running Computacenter for 35 years. The business has kept going and growing and is still at number one. I saw him speak at a CRN event recently and his passion and drive are the same as they were when I met him 30 years ago. He's inspiring and so dedicated; sometimes wish I had joined him then.
What piece of technology, or app, have you not been able to do without during the pandemic?
I have become a LinkedIn expert and use it for everything from a news resource to a tool for winning new business. Most of Sellerly's new business in the last few years has touched LinkedIn, and when I look back at the research that I used to do in my sales career, what used to take me hours I can now do in minutes with a device in my pocket.
If you could be anyone else for a week, who would you be, and what would you do?
This is a difficult one, as I quite like being me! Today I would like to be prime minister. I would look to clear up the mess the country is in and develop a solid communication strategy and stop all the lies and fake news. I'd start to put core values into place and lead by example so our children witness and understand decent values, how best to behave and what is acceptable and what isn't.
Do you miss face-to-face events?
This has been the most challenging part of the lockdown for me. I miss the face-to-face meetings and interactions with people and colleagues and the variety of events that haven't happened in 2020. Virtual is no substitute for me. I cannot wait to get back.
How will COVID leave its mark on the way the channel operates long term?
I'm not sure there will be massive changes in the longer term, as I think we will go more or less back to normal over time. Working at home cramped under the stairs or sprawled on your bed with your cat walking over your laptop wanting attention (actually, that bit is OK!) can't carry on forever.
The two significant changes for me are: 1) Buying online which will continue and grow more unless the channel can establish real added-value elements such as more personal service and involving people in the process. In sales it's a cautionary tale; if you can't add value you will eventually become extinct.
2) Video and virtual meetings will have a part to play, but I think that over time we will move predominantly back to face-to-face meetings and interactions. I think this will be different in the UK versus in the US, as we don't have the geographical challenges that they do and therefore arranging a meeting in another city the next day is a lot easier in the UK. It only takes "that one time" that a deal was lost due to a virtual meeting awkward interaction to then make us consider that in some cases physical presence and social engagement is a fundamental part of building trust in the sales relationship.