Nicki Smith – Sales Manager
In the Beginning
My background has always been in sales, but sales found me – rather than the other way around…
I left school at 16 and started a 1 year ‘Travel & Tourism Diploma’ at Bournemouth & Poole College.
I’m the first to admit that I chose this path because the course included a week ‘study trip’ to Magaluf, Majorca – typical 17-year-old decision making at its finest right there!
Not a lot of learning took place on that trip.
From the College, at the age of 17, I secured work experience as a ‘Traffic Agent’ at Bournemouth Airport – which I absolutely loved.
I threw everything into the three-week work placement, and at the end I was offered a permanent job and so that was the end of my carefree college life – as the summer season was about to begin and the airport needed me!
For those who know me personally, it will probably not surprise you to learn that one of my favourite tasks, was making the flight departure and arrival announcements and looking after the crew and passengers from the private jets!
One very rich man (with a very nice private jet) from somewhere in the UAE once offered my boss 6 camels and 2 Land-Rovers in exchange for me.
To this day I am not sure if that guy was serious or not, my boss said he was tempted to accept the offer… but who would check in the next flight?
I was a dental receptionist for a couple of years, when one of the four Dentists at the practice thought it would be a great idea to put me through the training to become a Dental Nurse.
I had to reverse out of that career path pretty quick though – as every time I assisted in surgery it would end with me passing out, turns out that was not one of the key skills they were looking for.
Feeling like the role of anything ‘Dental’ was probably not for me, I moved on to an admin role at a furniture store in Bournemouth. At weekends the store was always busy, so I would often escape out from behind my desk to help on the sales floor.
This was a bit of lightbulb moment for me – I had really found my ‘thing’!
I was outselling the full-time sales staff (much to their disgust) and because of my knowledge of the backend processes of the store, was very quickly promoted to Assistant Manager.
In my twenties I spent much of my time troubleshooting at underperforming stores the length and breadth of the UK. These experiences taught me to be a good communicator, logical problem solver – and a really good listener too.
Managing and motivating sales teams and producing results came easy for me and I was Store Manager at the company’s flagship store in Hedge End, Southampton (and had married the top performing salesman in the country) by the time that my career in Furniture ended – to go on maternity leave.
I took a role at a hotel chain in the New Forest as Senior Corporate Sales Executive. This was my first experience of B2B sales, and I quickly learnt that this required a completely different approach to selling direct to consumer. These B2B transactions are not at all emotive and much more to do with the quality of the service, and of course the price, but also the relationships our team built with the customers which kept them coming back.
The opportunity to join KFA Connect in 2015 arose at a time when I was definitely ready for a new challenge.
New to the IT industry, I admit I was a bit daunted at first – I had a lot to learn but once I realised that no one expects me to be technical and have all the answers, I started to relax.
My role as KFA Connect Sales Manager is varied.
I am responsible for promoting KFA’s services and develop initial relationships with potential new customers. As such, I am often the first-person new individuals and companies will speak to at KFA.
I gather as much information as possible regarding project requirements, then involve individuals from the wider KFA team, based on the project requirements. I aim to give the working relationship a good beginning and hopefully effectively portray how passionate the whole KFA team are about developing long-standing business relationships and providing a good service!
In addition to the new business sales activities, I also look after the KFA marketing.
On the marketing side, I’m always working on new ideas to help raise awareness of the software development, integration, test and support services we offer.
I manage the two KFA websites, including blog pages and various social media accounts.
I naturally slipped into the role of KFA social events planner (I wonder why); Christmas Parties, Summer BBQ’s and curry nights in between – I’m the one to get you on the party list!
My kids are most definitely not kids anymore, which makes me feel super old!
My Son, joined the Army and my daughter has just finished her final weeks of her GCSE’s.
Over the years our family has grown, with the addition of two British Bulldogs, who are a constant source of amusement (and mess!).
When I’m not working, I enjoy walking my dogs, family holidays, reading, Yoga and gardening.
My love for spin classes is not quite so strong, but I go anyway…