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Fast-track to management

Naomi joined Virtual College as an account manager in the social housing sector. She then progressed into a business development role and more recently, moved on to be a sales manager, running the sales teams for councils, housing, education and safeguarding.

Introduction

Naomi started at Virtual College in 2010 as an account manager working with customers in the social housing sector. This gave her a great grounding in understanding Virtual College’s products and how customers benefited from working with the company. From there, she progressed into a business development manager role, working with potential customers and advising on what the most appropriate solution would be for them.

After being responsible for direct sales for a few years, she was keen to progress into a senior sales role that would enhance her skills on strategy and campaigns. She applied and was successful in the role of performance manager for the business team. This role involved setting targets and KPIs, reviewing activity and campaigns and working with marketing to ensure Virtual College had the right level of activity in place to achieve goals set. She progressed into a sales manager role for existing business, running a team of account managers and, following a restructure in 2016, has now taken on the challenge of running the sales teams for councils, housing, education and safeguarding for both existing and new business.

What did you do before you joined Virtual College?

Before joining VC I worked for a company called Assessment North East. I worked within the team who held the contract for assessing companies against the Investors in People accreditation.

I was responsible for signing up our customers for renewal so they could be re-assessed. This is where I found my love for account management and customer support.

Prior to that I actually worked as a bar manager – very hard work and long hours, but fun!

Naomi Hepworth

What are you responsible for in your role?

Primarily I’m responsible for ensuring the whole team hits their financial target and that we achieving our KPI’s such as retention of customers and growth.

This involves…

  • Working closely with the marketing team to decide on campaigns, themes and collateral and then ensure we have the right level of follow up activity in place to give us our best chance of seeing a seeing a positive sales result from marketing activity.
  • Work closely with the market development teams to ensure that we are being reactive to sector trends and our product and packages will meet those requirements on an ongoing basis. Also looking at new sub sectors and where our growth potential is.
  • Performance management, ensuring the team are performing month to date on target. Reviewing and reacting to growth and deficit.
  • People development – ensuring the team are supported and developed to grow their skills and knowledge.
  • Sales plan for the year – putting in place sales plans, so what is our activity and customer strategies. This includes implementing retention and growth strategies.
  • 3 year growth plan.
  • Ensuring customers are ‘delighted from day 1’ on our product – reviewing customer feedback, support levels, value add resources and working with the teams responsible for delivering this so we are consistently improving.

What do you enjoy most about working at VC?

No day is dull! The team and my colleagues are fantastic – when Virtual College say our people are our best asset they mean it! My role is very varied and challenging and I often have to think on my feet so love the pace and variety of the role!

What has been your biggest challenge at VC?

The company had to rapidly adapt over the last few years to manage the growth of our customer base and to ensure we are planning effectively for continued success. This has meant a number of re-structures internally to make sure we can offer the best support to our customers. Managing a team through this transition has been a real challenge. I’ve learnt a lot in a short space of time. Our aim was to try and ensure our service was still at the highest standard through all the desk moves and process changes – this was challenging and led to learning a few lessons.

Funniest moment working at VC?

I walked into a filing cabinet whilst showing an interviewee into a room once – wasn’t the best first impression of our company!... but we found it very amusing!

Greatest achievement whilst working at VC?

Following the changes internally we did have an issue with delivering to the standard we were normally able to. As such our customer satisfaction rates needed some addressing. We looked at what we could improve and reviewed our levels of services and resources. I implemented a retention approach including free access to training webinars, a review of our customer pathway journey, a suite of product showcase webinars and a review of account management approaches. As such we increased the number of customers rating us as excellent by 22%. As such our retention rates and further sales have increased and last financial year we achieved 101% of target.

What are your ambitions for the future?

We recognise the real potential that Virtual College has to become the market leader in our chosen sectors. Putting in place a three year growth plan and ensuring we are fully investing in our people, their development and the products and services is key to delivering. I’m excited and fortunate to play a part in driving this forward so my ambition is to see this plan through, learn from our mistakes, review and keep adapting so we are achieving the best outcome we can, if we achieve our aim then the potential thereafter is very exciting!

Something interesting about you?

Bit of a thrill seeker – I once jumped out of a plane at 15,000 feet for fun!

What are your favourite hobbies?

I like to unleash my creativity outside of work, baking, cooking…actually anything to do with food is a keen hobby of mine! Also recently got into photography so learning to get savvy with the lens!

Qualifications / Professional Memberships?

  • GCSE/ 3 A levels
  • Dale Carnegie Sales Membership

Are you interested in working for Virtual College?

Are you interested in joining Virtual College as a graduate intern or apprentice? See our latest vacancies page for the list of our current roles.

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