Kristina Hicks, The Heart of Our Sales Team
The sales process has always been important to Cooper Press, being a bootstrapped company. Cashflow is king! In the early days, when it was just Peter Cooper sat about on his own, he relied entirely on a strategy of underpricing and selling only to inbound leads as a way to maintain cashflow while reducing the time away from the editorial side of things.
Eventually, though, it was clear a dedicated sales effort would be needed to build up relationships with sponsors, learn what they needed and wanted, and to explore new opportunities. That’s where Kristina fits in!
Welcome, Kristina Hicks
Kristina Hicks is Cooper Press’s resident Sales Director. Since joining the company in May 2015, Kristina has independently handled all sales and sponsor relationships from her corner of our busy office, but has recently been joined by sales associate Sam Baker. Before working for Cooper Press, Kristina worked for WorldPay selling card machine services to businesses.
Since Kristina interacts with and is well known to, all of our sponsors we thought everyone should get to know a bit more about her!
How did you hear about us and what made you apply?
KH: I saw an advert on Facebook advertising the job vacancy. I had been in my previous job for three years and felt I had achieved everything I could there and wanted a fresh challenge. Peter and I first met for breakfast at a local Wetherspoon pub and despite not being familiar with the e-mail newsletter business, it intrigued me.
Talk us through a typical work day
I get to the office at 10 (most of our customers are in the US), chat with everyone, then I knuckle down on my emails. Emails are usually my first port of call. If it’s a day when we send newsletters, I will be checking to make sure all sponsor material is checked and in the system. I then chase the sponsors for the following week for material if we don’t have it.
As the main contact for all the sponsors, my emails are busy with sales enquiries, leads for the following quarter, and various enquiries. We book sponsorships a quarter in advance so there is often a long lead time as we get booked up very quickly.
I often jump on calls with people who have enquired with us, to say hello, see how we can work together and overall get a feel for what they would like to do.
Another part of my job is to follow up with outstanding invoices. This would usually be taken care of by a finance department in most companies but we believe it always sounds better coming from the contact you know and trust. If anyone were to take too long to pay, we might have to bring someone else into the situation, but that hasn’t happened yet.
What challenges do you normally face during your working day?
I try and cram in so many different jobs every day that it sometimes becomes difficult. I often sit in my office with my headphones in, all day and just don’t look up from my screen.
I guess the other ‘challenge’ would be the time difference, as we are based in the UK and most of our clients are based in the US. I sometimes miss emails or I am late in replying if it is urgent. I overcome this by doing a lot of work from home, either early in the morning for calls or late at night for emails.
Up until recently you were handling sales entirely on your own, how did you find the pressures that came with that?
I like working on my own to a certain degree as I can just crack on and get stuff done. I like storing things in my head rather than documenting them though, so I’m having to learn to be better at that as the team grows. I work well under pressured situations though — I come from a sales background so you can’t get much more pressure than that!
Do you prefer working in a team or solo?
I love having Sam [our new sales and marketing associate who just joined] as she is really good at sorting me out and organising things. I thought I would find it hard passing things over to her as I have done this on my own for six months but I have 100% trust in her ability as we previously worked together elsewhere.
Does having Sam with you, help when it comes to brainstorming new strategies and deals with sponsors?
Yes, two heads are better than one when it comes to ideas! It’s great to have someone to air your thoughts to and pull ideas from that — she is great at coming up with new ideas and to have a fresh set of eyes over everything really helps.
How do you both keep up with the sponsors? How do you develop relationships with them?
We have quite a lot of loyal, regular sponsors which is great. I get a lot of people who read our newsletters email in and ask us how they can feature in the newsletters so it goes from there. While we have a lot of emails and Skype calls with sponsors, one of our projects going forward is to find better ways to engage with sponsors on a regular basis, especially as our team grows here.
Do you think being able to have a face to face conversation helps build the relationship?
Yes— it brings the human element into it. As people always email me a lot it’s nice to show I am a person and not a robot behind a computer. It’s also nice to have a chat with people, get to know them and the company as well as discussing the newsletters. I love a good chat!
What is your favourite thing about working at Cooper Press?
My favourite thing(s) (I can’t just have one) are the fact that I am always busy, the days don’t drag, the people, interacting with all of the sponsors and, of course, Champagne Tuesdays! (PC: This is, mostly, an in-joke! We buy a bottle of champagne when a new person joins the company and we’ve had quite a few lately…)
Finally, where do you see the company in five years time?
Where do I see the company in five years time? Bigger & better of course! We have so many new & exciting projects in the pipeline that are happening this year. The newsletters are growing daily so we will keep on giving the readers great content and the sponsors a great outlet for what they’re offering, too.