After joining Sontay in 2018 as a young graduate, Marco Ciaurro is going from strength-to-strength and has recently been promoted to area sales manager for the Midlands, south-west England and Wales. Sontay sat down with Marco to discuss his new role, his time at the company so far, and the industry trends we’ll expect to see going into 2021.

Q: Congratulations on your promotion! Could you tell us about this new opportunity?

A: Whilst the role isn’t too different from my time as graduate sales manager, the main contrast is the level of responsibility and ownership. I am now area manager for an area covering cities such as Nottingham to Birmingham, right the way down to Torquay. For a 25-year old, I think this progression isn’t bad at all!

My new role will really enable me to grow and develop in the ways that I have envisioned. I worked in customer service prior to my time at Sontay, and close family members have had their careers in control panels and sales. For that reason, you could say it was written in the stars all along.

Q: Could you give us insight into your new role?

A: I have around 70 accounts to look after – from distribution centres to systems integrators – and each of them requires a different type of service. You could say I’m the customer’s go-to guy. I take time to listen to what they have to say so that I can find the right solution. Listening shouldn’t be underestimated!

The job will involve the same daily processes that I’m used to. I’ll still be planning my weeks far in advance, where I will have around three to four meetings each day. I’ll be hitting the ground running early in the morning, visiting clients in Birmingham, Bristol and Cardiff in one day. I’ll be liaising with key stakeholders to see which products we can push; what projects are going on.

Pandemic-pending, I am really looking forward to getting back on the road so I can meet Sontay’s customers face-to-face. Technology has proven to be a great aide during this time, but for me, you can’t beat real interaction.

Q: Which training have you undertaken to move into the role?  Who has helped you?

A: I was fortunate enough to be given the initial graduate opportunity after contacting Pareto, which are a top UK sales recruitment firm. As part of the process I was offered five training days, with the sales course in particular proving to be extremely helpful.

When moving into my new role as area sales manager at Sontay, the team offered no end of support. Everyone has been a great help and I have been able to learn certain skills from a wide range of experts at Sontay. We’re one big family here and everyone has been fantastic.

On a separate note, the Sontay Academy courses are indispensable for industry professionals wanting to remain on top of their game. I couldn’t recommend them enough!

Q: What is the best thing about your job and working for Sontay?

A: Without a doubt, the Sontay team. Everyone wants to help each other and no one is ever ‘too busy’ or ‘too important’ to help you out. I’ve found the Sontay support network invaluable, and I truly believe that the customers can see the care we have for each other.

It’s great that our positive attitude filters out to our client base – there’s a reason why our service sets us apart from the rest! It’s a distinguished reputation which we are all proud of.

Q: Which trends are on the horizon for 2021?

A: Buildings are going to have to be designed to hit certain emissions targets and reduce energy consumption. It is why the industry is calling for smarter communication protocols, as these solutions are instrumental in achieving the UK’s net-zero and wider sustainability goals.

As area sales managers, we have seen an influx of interest from the market into smarter communication since 2019, and I have no doubt it will continue into 2021. Interest has mainly been from project engineers and managers working on large programmes, where specific criteria has to be met.

Smarter tools are providing customers with the solutions they need. As a result of this shift in direction, people are recognising that analogue is becoming outdated.

I’ve also noticed that the drive towards smart technology originates from very early on in a project’s process. The demand is there at the get-go, notably during tendering. Increasingly, we are seeing more and more clients selecting tenders that offer cost-effective, efficient smart solutions. In turn, they are enabling companies to win more work.

Q: What is the best piece of advice you can give to someone coming into the industry?

A: If you like to challenge yourself, then this is the right place for you. As a young graduate, my area was responsible for approx. 15% of Sontay’s overall sales. I had a high amount of responsibility, yet this inspired me to be better every day and continue to push myself

Q: Now let’s find out a bit more about yourself! What are your favourite things?

A: Football, family holidays back in Italy and of course the TV show, Friends. I’m still holding out for the film… maybe 2021 will be a better year for all sorts of reasons!