Boddingtons people series
Tony Ayley – Business Development Manager
The more one looks into the true nature of the sales function, the further removed from the popular stereotype it seems to be: Listening rather than talking – long term rather than short – space and time to think and consider (rather than pressure). At any rate these are all qualities that come to mind in the presence of Tony Ayley, Boddingtons Business Development Manager. We talked to Tony about his work at the company.
Tony – welcome to the Boddingtons Q&A web blog!
Tony, your career before Boddingtons is rich in polymer-based training and technology. Could you remind us of some of the features please?
Sure. Right at the beginning of my career I supplemented my work as a lab technician in the plastics compounding sector with day release qualifications in polymer technology. This led me into a technical sales role and then into new jobs and positions in firstly the plastics extrusion manufacturing sector and then into various sales roles for injection moulding companies. This work and experience eventually led me to Boddingtons in the year 2000 – no looking back since!
Product design and manufacture can be a very visual and 3D business. You also have further training in that area?
Yes indeed. In the early 1990s I took some time out at the Kent Institute of Art and Design in order to study for an HND qualification in architectural model making. Working with Boddingtons clients it certainly helps to be able to hold all the visual particulars of their design going forward – particularly as regards optimum manufacturing methods – and to work with them to see the optimum solution, both from a cost and aesthetic point of view.
And apart from these technical aspects, what further qualities must a good sales person have?
Firstly I think those fundamental technical aspects are non-negotiable. To sell, without a doubt you must ‘know your product’ inside out. In our case that’s about really knowing the manufacturing services that are based around our injection moulding technology – in other words, how we create products from various polymeric materials and processes. You must be able to advise your customers on all those technical matters – for example, whether glass filled nylon might be better suited to a job rather than polypropylene, what additives and colours can be added; whether additional services such as inserts, printing and packaging can be provided and how.
Then – as you said at the beginning – listening is extremely important and also allowing the process to take its own time. Frustrating as it can be – these things most often cannot be rushed!
Landing good business can take time?
Many months – and years – in some cases. The number of customers who buy something straightaway on sight is very rare indeed. It is much more typical for a number of discussions to go back and forth before any hint of a purchase order is raised. Quite often it is not just the relationship with the buyer that’s important, it’s about getting to know the designers and engineers as well as the management team and also understanding their various wants and needs.
Most of us who have a central heating boiler will know of the Boddingtons award-winning work for Fernox – the leading supplier of filtration equipment. That is your account yes?
Yes indeed. The initial enquiry came from quite a chance meeting outside of the day-to-day working situation. And many meetings and discussions later we were in business together; producing substantial numbers of mouldings and collecting design awards for the same. It is worth remembering that the sales job can often find opportunity in the most unlikely of places and outside of the traditional enquiry avenues.
And that same award-winning Fernox product has now been recently reborn?
Yes. Another feature of industrial life is that successful manufacturing suppliers are constantly re-evaluating their product designs in order to improve them in various ways. Just look at the activity of an Apple or Samsung.
So it is with Fernox. We worked with them to make our existing award-winning design even better – in terms of aesthetics and looks; performance, fitness for purpose and also cost. The Fernox Sigma is the result – launched by Fernox in the Autumn of 2018 and now reaching production volumes at our Marden site.
And Fernox recently visited Boddingtons to learn more about the technology behind the making of their new product, the Sigma?
We were very pleased to play host to Fernox’s sales executives at our Marden site in March 2019 (please see picture) and share features and details of our manufacturing world with them.
Some of the Fernox team – pictured here at the entrance to the new £4.6m Boddingtons manufacturing facility, Marden, Kent
In my view when you sell services – especially manufacturing services – the ideal relationship is continuous and ongoing and – at its best – becomes an equal partnership. That is to say one can expect give and take – and on both sides. For our part we are ready to supply parts, services and all manner of manufacturing input at short notice and on a Just In Time basis. The one thing that allows no compromise of course is our product quality.
What advice would you give someone contemplating entering technical sales?
Firstly, and as said, really know your subject. Ideally it is also something that you can get very passionate about. Develop a 6th sense for opportunity and where business can be found. Also remember that good business takes time and that the best kind of business is not a one-off deal but endures for many years.