Leadership Q&A – Christina Magan

Christina_Magan Portrait 1

Christina Magan is the National Sales Manager for Vodafone New Zealand where she is responsible for multi-channel revenue growth for small business & medium Enterprise. Her role includes the strategic direction and execution of Digital, Retail stores, Telesales and Business Development.

Christina is experienced in business development, sales channel management, sales coaching, transformation leadership to build a collaborative & high-performance culture.

Having led multiple sales teams around New Zealand across FMCG and B2B, she is well versed on the importance of team unity, ultimate customer satisfaction and a clear strategy to win.

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1. What was your first sales role and in which industry?

I was as a ‘Sales & Service Assistant’ in the local Farmers store in the Women’s fashion department.

2. What was the first lesson you learnt on the job?

The importance of the customer experience, listening to customer needs and how a smile can go a long way.

3. How or why did you become a sales professional?

I did not set myself out to be a sales person in the beginning. It was a job out-of-school hours that allowed me some form of independence. It grew into something I recognised I was good at and enjoyed. I started out in B2C sales which led me into B2B sales and then sales manager. I did not think of it as a career until I decided to take on the responsibilities in sales leadership.

4. How would you describe your approach to sales and what are the values that you live by?

My sales approach is centered around relationship and rapport building as well as understanding alignments and opportunities to assist in solving a problem for customers. I thrive off being trustworthy, transparent and authentic. I also take this approach to the way I lead my salespeople.

Christine Magan with team

5. In your view, what are the three most important factors that determine sales success?

  • Building trust with customers
  • Thoughtful listening
  • Genuine problem solving of identified gaps/issues, leading to improved efficiencies/experiences for the customer (in B2B it is to make improvements for their staff and/or customers).

6. What did/do you love about sales?

In our current situation relating to COVID-19, I have loved seeing how our sales teams have been able to assist SME’s with their Business Continuity Plan by adapting to remote working and ensuring their staff are able to continue servicing the business and their customers.

7. What did/do you dislike about sales?

The one thing that I don’t like in the sales industry is the perception of sales and the archaic skills that make a good salesperson. This is a major bug-bear of mine! Throughout my sales career I have worked extra hard to prove that I am not of the ‘norm’ ie: out for myself, only there for the sale and hitting a number. These unfortunate traits have, understandably, created distrust towards those who have ‘sales’ in their job title. I lead a team where we pride ourselves on being customer-centric and accountable beyond the sale and are supportive of one-another.

8. Tell us about your most memorable sale and why.

My most memorable sale was a multi-site B2B sale. It was memorable for it was an opportunity that took concerted time and effort to build a trusting and respectful relationship. This was so we could deep-dive into understanding their requirements, to identify efficiencies that could be created as well as economical benefits and ease-of-use opportunities on the way their staff communicated between sites. It was a large technical solution and therefore, it was about collaborating with the experts in my business to bring the recommended solutions to life. The effort was worth it, for they are still a customer today, 7+ years on.

9. What is the best piece of advice a sales manager passed on to you when you were in sales?

‘Your uniqueness is your strength’.

Christina Magan

10. What do you wish you had known when you first started out in sales that you know now?

To not limit myself, to know my worth and that I can do it just as well as anyone else! To always be learning and that you can stay true to yourself and still be successful.

11. What traits do you believe are critical for success in sales management and sales leadership?

Understand your salespeople’s drivers (exclude financial) and make sure you use this as a part of the PD discussions and create monthly/quarterly goals that align with their drivers.

Start with trust and some level of autonomy with your salespeople and let them know that you are doing this. Inform them of what it will take to lose trust, so they understand your expectations.

Appreciate their strengths and differences they bring to the table and how you can use them to help the rest of the team. I have diverse teams that bring an array of varied backgrounds, experience, approaches and passions.

Always be coaching! Never underestimate the importance of coaching your salespeople and allow them to coach one another, if you find they have a strength in a certain area.

Thought Leadership! Be open, transparent and vulnerable with your team. This has been key for me to build trust and respect from my sales teams. Always be open to receiving feedback. I am forever learning and refining my sales management & leadership skills.

Set clear expectations, along with team goals. Minimise moving the goal posts too often. Consistency is key to building momentum and a high-performing team.

Team culture is so incredibly important! Celebrate successes, learn from failures, keep each other accountable, take time to have a laugh, look after their health (this has been imperative to our success throughout the most recent months).

Christina Magan with team 2

12. How has your industry evolved in the last 10 years or so and what changes do you see coming in the next 10 years?

I started my sales career in Vodafone NZ 10 years ago and so much has changed over the past decade. We started out as the disruptor and we were in a growth industry. We find ourselves now in a situation where we are the defender and having to revolutionise ourselves. The industry, as an entirety, is having to redefine the value we offer our customers. It is a significant opportunity and I am looking forward to seeing where we will be in 5 – 10 years time. We are having to transform and adapt, where digital infrastructure must be data-led focused. The need for relationship-based sales will be more imperative than ever before. Such skills as empathy, connection and collaboration will be key for sales success (as per a Harvard Business Review ‘Why Women Are the Future of B2B Sales’ published May 28, 2020 by Adris A. Zoltners, et al. The ‘7 Capabilities That Set High-Performing Salespeople Apart’ are: 1. Analysing 2. Connecting 3. Collaborating 4. Shaping Solutions 5. Influencing 6. Driving 7. Improving.)

13. How do you balance life and work? 

I am a believer in ‘If you are good at home, you are good at work’, I am even more of a believer in ‘if you are good at work, you are good at home’. I bring my all to what I do at work and I have to be very mindful of the emotional and mental toll that it can have on me, especially on a more challenging day. Therefore, I have found it important to have time to myself (currently by going out for a walk/run) and utilising my commute to and from work to clear my mind and ensure that I am showing up at home for my children and husband as they need me- as their mother and wife, respectively.

Christina Magan Family

14. What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I am blessed to live in a beautiful part of Aotearoa/New Zealand and so I enjoy taking the my children to the beach or for an adventure out in nature. I also enjoy the time we take to have play-time and to get down to their level. It is important for me to have quality time with my husband, whenever we are able to get some quiet time. For myself, I enjoy getting out for a decent walk/run and getting the blood pumping. I enjoy reading, especially personal and professional development books – forever learning! Over this period of uncertainty, it has been great to reconnect with friends and wider family (albeit virtually), it has been very fulfilling and one thing I am determined to continue.

About Vodafone New Zealand

Vodafone New Zealand is one of New Zealand’s leading digital services and connectivity companies, and they believe every New Zealander will thrive with access to the world’s best digital services. They offer more than 3 million connections to Consumer and Business customers, and their existing mobile network covers 98.5% of where Kiwis live, work and play. Vodafone New Zealand is owned by New Zealand-based Infratil and Canada-based Brookfield Asset Management.

The newly released Vodafone NZ Sustainable Business Report 2020 illustrate ways the digital services company is achieving better collective outcomes for its teams, customers and communities.

For more information visit https://www.vodafone.co.nz/.

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Joseph Sing
Joseph Sing is the Publisher of Head of Sales. Joseph’s marketing and media sales experience spans more than 15 years across vertical markets such as financial services, medical, legal, information technology, business and HR & recruitment. His clients have included notable organisation such as Google, Facebook, Westpac, CBA, Oracle, SAP, ServiceNow, Deloitte, Pfizer, Novartis, J.P. Morgan, Vanguard, Randstad, Hays and a long list of best of breed vendors. Joseph holds a degree in commerce from Macquarie University with major studies in economics and marketing. He has completed management courses at the Australian Graduate School or Management (AGSM) and communications at the Australian Institute of Management (AIM). Joseph worked across many areas of corporate events, publishing and digital media at a senior management level. He has experience in advertising, digital media, industry awards, exhibitions and conferences.