Selling globally, one click at a time

by Margaret Harris
Graham McCann is head of sales in Southern Africa at Groupon South Africa. He tells Margaret Harris that he feels so fulfilled in his present job that he cannot imagine doing any other.

What do you do at work each day?

I am responsible for the overall co-ordination, functional management and leadership of all sales activities for the business. Groupon is the fastest-growing e-commerce business in South Africa, so a hands-on approach is not negotiable.

I am also responsible for the establishment of the annual and monthly sales objectives in coordination with the global strategy.

I also handle sales plans for the ever-changing marketplace. I have to keep up to date with all market and industry trends, competitors and customers’ strategies.

I also develop relationships with partners, identify and report on business opportunities, represent the business at conferences and oversee the sales teams.

How did you end up in this career?

Throughout my career I have been in sales, and after completing my MBA in 2003 I realised I wanted to be a sales professional and manage teams and businesses. I believe that online or e-commerce is the way of the future, so I made sure I was able to be part of it.

What qualities do you need to work in sales?

There is a wide array of qualities needed to work and succeed in sales, including being a strategic thinker, the ability to collaborate and communicate effectively, emotional intelligence and motivation.

How does working in e-commerce differ from working in more traditional environments?

Working in e-commerce differs completely from traditional environments because it is available just about everywhere and at all times, so the potential market size is roughly equal to the size of the online population of the world.

Information that is complex and content that is rich can be delivered without sacrificing reach. E-commerce technologies allow two-way communication between the merchant and the consumer. The total amount and quality of information available to all market participants is vastly increased and cheaper to deliver.

E-commerce technologies also enable merchants to target their marketing messages to a person’s name, interests and past purchases, and it allows a merchant to change the product or service to suit the purchasing behaviour and preferences of a consumer.

What did you want to be when you were a child?

A commercial airline pilot.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The interaction, challenges and never-ending focus on ensuring that what my teams and I are doing ensures the business has happy customers.

What do you find most challenging about your job?

Finding the right sales talent to execute the company’s strategy and keeping up with the constantly highly paced environment.

What would you do if you could not do this job?

I cannot see myself in another career. I have never felt disconnected from the challenge that first engaged my interest in sales.

What qualifications do you have and how do they help you to do your job?

I have an MBA and CDIA+ and ITIL [information technology certifications]. They have helped me to improve and progress in my career very quickly. They have increased my options and professional prospects as well as satisfying my intellectual curiosity.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

I am driven to be the best at what I do and I want to work somewhere where I will have opportunities to further develop my skills, take on interesting projects and work with people I can really learn from.

Some of the most innovative thinkers in the e-commerce industry work here, and that’s a big reason why I would love to build my career here.

Useful resources:
Business Times
Business news and analysis supplement with a popular, people-orientated approach.
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