Allan Hall studied electronic engineering at college, but he made the unusual progression to management and then sales early in his career. He attributes some of the success in that transition to his upbringing in Scotland.
“You don't normally get an engineer turning into a salesman,” he says. “It's quite an unusual combination, because as an engineer you have that more analytical thinking and very to-the-point approach, whereas I think my upbringing in Scotland and that friendly, persuasive way of discussing, talking about, and debating things made the transition possible. If you just arrived in Scotland, you would feel as though you had been there all your life. You would also feel as though people really talk to you, because they do! There's no escaping it when you go to Scotland.”
“To then have that technical understanding, and to be able to demonstrate the benefits of the products that we sell and the services from a technical perspective, and the ability to have a commercial view, it's stood me in good stead,” he said.
But he says he also believes that part of what makes one successful in sales is empathy. Early in his career, Hall became the youngest manager ever at a domestic appliance manufacturer.
“It was a very much industrialized, unionized environment,” he says. “I had to learn quickly to skillfully negotiate. I think that also held me in really good stead for always asking ‘What's the other person thinking?’ If I were in the other person's shoes, how would I see that situation? It gave me a great platform for being able to understand the other side, especially when it comes to commercial.”