After the successful first part of our Sales Leader of the Week Interview series with David Irwin, we're pleased to present an interview with another sales leader who is at the forefront of their career. We'll find out what makes them tick, their career highlights, as well as best advice that they have been given...
Delfina Pion is the Head of Sales and Events at Ping Pong, previously heading up Sales and Events at Galvin Restaurants as well as Benugo and Brasserie Blanc. Delfina progressed very quickly through her career, growing from a waitress to Head of Sales in just 5 years.
Q. Tell us what you do
A. My key objective is to make sure that each site meets monthly and annual targets.
In my position, I am much more focused on proactive rather than reactive sales. My interest is in the people who are not coming to us – why?
It’s really interesting and quite full on. I can’t remember one day when I was ever bored.
Q. What is a standard day in the life of your role?
A. There isn’t one! No day is ever the same - even if you try to plan a standard day, your day can be completely changed within an hour depending on the clients as they are the number one priority.
Q. How did you start your sales career?
A. I actually started as a waitress in Paris, where I’m from. Then, I had an opportunity to work in Disneyworld in the US which was absolutely amazing.
Then I moved to the UK, waitressing again but the whole time I knew that I wanted to work in events. I decided to quit waitressing and I gave myself one month to find a job in sales.
It wasn’t easy, but on the last day of the month I got a job at Drake & Morgan for an Event and Sales Assistant.
Q. When did you get your first big break?
A. My first big break was going from there to being Head of Sales and Events at Brasserie Blanc.
While I was working at Drake & Morgan, my ex General Manager called me and said she had joined a Brasserie Blanc and they wanted to create a Head of Sales and Events Role.
I got the job and I stayed with them for 3 years and developed the role - Brasserie Blanc was my first big break and I learnt more than I could even think of! It was an amazing experience.
Q. What do you love about your job?
A. There are a lot of things I love about my job. I love being part of a team and being part of the success of a brand. I also love being able to develop people and the fact that every day is different – you don’t wake up and think ‘I have a standard 9-5’!
Q. What frustrates you about it?
A. I wasn’t a patient person to start with. I’ve learnt now through the job to respect everyone’s position so when I now need something my first email is really clear and direct and with a deadline date which are achievable for everyone involved and not just me.
That’s the one thing that frustrates me about the job – the waiting.
Q. What traits define a great sales person?
A. You need to be a people person. With our work, you take a lot of bookings in different venues, and you are talking to people not a computer. You have to understand the client and give them what they want.
The second thing is time management. If you can’t manage your time, especially in a multi-site role, then you can miss sales and feel overwhelmed with work which causes delays for your client.
Q. What is the best career advice you have been given?
A. Always treat your client the way you want to be treated. It’s very important.
Similarly, always leave a company on good terms.
The industry is very small, and hardworking, respectful staff will always be valued.
Always stay on good terms and good things will come back to you.
Q. What’s hot in your industry at the moment?
A. Everything bottomless! The amount of people who want things bottomless - a set price but not a set quantity - is very popular. Often, it is just the mindset clients have – 8 tables out of 9 usually use our bottomless dim sum on a Sunday. If they used the a la carte menu and ate until they were full they’d spend less, but they will spend more in order to have the idea that they can order whatever they want.
Q. If you didn’t work in sales, what would you do?
A. It would still remain in something sales-related because I really enjoy it, but it would be something more like real estate selling huge villas to millionaires!
Q. Final comments or advice
A. Be patient, because everything is possible in sales. You can grow really quickly or really slowly – it’s all up to you. Listen because you need to learn, and once you have those basics you can figure out your own way to do it.