Mindset vs Skillset: A Discussion with Steph Bowers

Since launching in May 2022, the Heat Sales team have made impressive strides…

The Manchester-based division, headed up by Steph Bowers, has grown quickly and, along with our other Manchester-based divisions, have rapidly outgrown their initial Manchester hub and had to expand into a larger office space in the Northern Quarter. In light of all of this growth, we sat down to ask Steph some questions her ambitions for the future of the division and her advice for Sales businesses and professionals operating in the sector.


What’s been your most exciting moment since joining Heat?

I think being really involved in key decisions right from the start, for example around how we brand the division, how creative we can be with new ideas, and how all of this is positioned to potential new starters; all of this has been really exciting. The business genuinely stands out from the sea of otherwise same-like options that exist out there for recruiters considering a move. To be able to join a business and make recommendations that will not only be heard but actually adopted and embedded into the business is really rewarding.


What’s been the biggest challenge so far?

Trying to decide what’s ‘important” versus ‘urgent and important’. Having to make the best use of my time possible when spinning lots of plates that come with a start-up project and having to decide what should take priority over something else has been hard because every day I think ‘wow… it’s really important we execute X today’, but then I think “oh but we also need to do Y and Z too before 10.00 am!” So, it’s hard keeping sight of what the fundamental key things that have to be done are, as opposed to what can perhaps wait till later in the week. But really, that’s all part of the fun, and boy do the days fly by!


Why did you choose to join Heat in the first instance?

To be instrumental in creating a Sales and Contact Centre division where I can implement my ideas on which markets to target and why, and to be genuinely rewarded for how I do this. The job is never easy, so to feel like I work for a business where I am more visible and accountable but also rewarded handsomely is a no-brainer.


What are your plans for the future of the division?

In terms of Sales, this division will operate in key sectors over the next 2 years – such as Facilities Management, FMCG and Convenience, and IT and Digital. We will also have a Regional Sales model which will cater towards lower-level Sales roles in the North West, which will be our true sales hub for Heat. In terms of contact centre, we want to build this out to a North and South team, focussing on both the transactional end of the market and more strategic senior hires across a range of sectors. The Northwest alone has over 700 businesses that are classed as having a ‘call centre’ based business model, so there is clearly a wealth of opportunity to harness. We want to firstly align this division with the Sales division by making sure we have a good market share for all internal sales opportunities and then create a cross-sell focus between the two camps.


Why is now the right time to be building out the Sales division?

Sales is the lifeblood of any business, so to launch this division when we are all experiencing skill shortages and are operating in a truly candidate-led market makes it the perfect time to build out this discipline.


Are there any particularly prevalent issues or challenges in the Sales sector at the moment that you’re coming across?

Buybacks and hesitancy from candidates are more of an issue now than before. Candidates are more mindful of how a prospective business has behaved throughout covid, how financially robust the business is, or how much the market they operate in is growing or not. Gone are the days when a candidate will base a decision purely on rewards. But, with all of this being said, salary hikes are throwing the balance of power even further into the candidate’s corner, as they know that they are in high demand and can therefore request a premium.


What is one thing candidates in your sector should bear in mind when considering a new role?

Look at what good looks like within the business’ Sales team. How do they measure success and how are they rewarded for it? This gives you something to aim for in terms of beating or bettering the status quo and will help you gauge where you can add real value.


What is one thing clients in your sector should consider when looking to recruit?

Be prepared to buy into mindset over skillset, as this will pay off in the long term. The longer the employee is within the business and becomes increasingly accustomed to the market, they will gain knowledge steadily. Attitude is king and is something that cannot be taught or improved over time. Be strategic and avoid falling into the trap of short-sighted hiring based on what seems to be the holy grail of ‘industry knowledge’ instead of mindset, which is the ultimate must-have in reality.

In Sales recruitment, the thought process should be kept simple: who do we think can influence others effectively? The need for a Sales person to demonstrate they are highly knowledgeable in one area of the market as opposed to having allied market experience in several other areas is really a subjective debate. If all areas of the FM landscape can expect to harness opportunity to grow their business then they should really boil it down to a basic formula of “who can win a customer’s heart and mind the most effectively,” as opposed to “who is the most technically knowledgeable”.


What sets Heat Sales apart from its competitors?

We have a UK-wide approach and focus on key verticals. Our knowledge runs deep in certain sectors but, with all of that being said, the most important thing to highlight is that we often choose to partner with candidates based on our understanding of their mindset rather than sector know-how. This is what we end up consulting with our clients on the most, as it has proved time and again to be the most important thing in terms of who is successful or not 1-2, or 3 years down the line.