Sarah Phillips

Career Stories: Meet Sarah Phillips, Director, Sales, FIXR

Meet Sarah Phillips, Director, Sales, FIXR

Sarah Phillips

Sarah leads the sales team at FIXR. She has spent the last five years growing FIXR from a start-up to a scale-up challenger brand. Sarah studied English Literature and Theatre Studies at the University of Leeds, where she ran a small business selling branding and design packages to start-ups.

What area of work did you see yourself doing when you were younger, and do you think this connects at all with what you’re doing now?

I always imagined that I’d end up doing something super creative within marketing, or film/production, but have also always had a bit of a business/commercial way of thinking so I am not surprised I joined a tech start-up early on. I love that I have a big impact on developing the business and that it keeps me on my toes.

I’ve always thought long-term rather than the right-now. When I was a recent graduate, the ‘right-now’ was “how do I make money – to pay rent or fund my social life?”, and in the meantime, figure out what I want to do long-term because in five year’s time, I want to have achieved a valuable set of skills in a progressive career that I actually enjoy. I was very much afraid of following the steps everyone else was taking and finding myself in a role that I didn’t enjoy and feeling that I’d eventually have to take a step back and “restart” in order to move forward.

How did you decide the tech sector was for you?

I love that technology provides endless possibilities. I get to work in an environment where we are always coming up with new ideas and developing solutions to problems. As part of my role, I get to identify issues that event organisers face on a daily basis, communicate this with our team and input into product development. Every new product or feature that is developed brings new life to FIXR and what we offer as a brand. I’m not selling the same thing, the FIXR product is constantly evolving. That keeps me on my toes!

What has your career progression looked like since you started working?

I am fortunate to have found FIXR early on and was one of the brand’s first employees. I started as a Business Development representative, travelling up and down the country meeting event organisers and doing my best to convince them to sell tickets to their events on FIXR (this was at a time when our technology was very limited, and no one had heard of us). Over time, I built a network that allowed us to grow the business and develop better technology to meet our client needs. I am now Director of Sales, working with some of the largest event organisations in the UK, selling tickets to many millions of customers per year.

I work closely with many of our clients, taking suggestions on board and communicating them to our product team, who are ever developing our technology to better our service, and ultimately giving my team and me a better, easier product to sell.

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What motivates you day-to-day?

My colleagues and growth. Working with people who share the same vision and drive to succeed is really important in a start-up environment. You can’t do it alone. Surrounding yourself with people who have different skills and diversity of thought that you can learn from is key. Then growth, seeing your efforts rewarded is really an unbeatable feeling, it makes you feel more powerful and more capable.

Best part of your job?

I love meeting new, interesting people and hearing their stories. I also love learning and seeing the hard work pay off – I think this is easier to see in a smaller, growing company!

I love to feel like I am constantly moving forward. In a scaling business, making mistakes are inevitable, and they are almost as important as your successes because you learn from them and (hopefully) never make the same mistake again. I’ve made many mistakes at FIXR, but I am very grateful for them as I feel they have fuelled my progression. It’s funny how doing something wrong can immediately whip you into shape!

What has your experience been like in the tech sector as a woman?

My experience is that there aren’t enough women in the events industry. This is also true of the tech sector, but I haven’t felt that this has limited my potential to be successful. In a sense, being a minority – in my case being a female salesperson in the events industry – makes you stand out (in a good way). However, we have hired many wonderful, talented, hardworking women into the FIXR team, so I don’t really feel like part of a minority anymore!

What are your top tips for those, like yourself who haven’t followed the traditional career path but would like to get ahead in tech and/or sales?

 Test the waters, don’t be afraid to take risks, and be bold. Apply for work experience in different roles and even industries. Find what makes you tick, a subject that you are interested in and something you feel you are good at. Finding a long-term role is a very important decision, and a significant part of your life, so it’s important that you find something that is right for you. If you’re genuinely interested and passionate about what you do, and the values of a company match yours, then you will be motivated and fulfilled. Work won’t always feel like work, and you’ll be most likely to progress faster in this position.

Getting ahead in any career

  1. Be prepared to work from the bottom up: Hard work won’t go unnoticed, and you will really fuel your own progression if you’re seen to make the effort, and that you really care. If you want to make an impression, be the first in, last out.
  2. Ask questions: You’re not expected to know everything when you first start a new role. So, ask away, fuel your knowledge and build your armoury.
  3. Be you, be bold, and take risks: Employers want to be surrounded by unique people who aren’t replaceable, so don’t just copy what the next person does, find yourself and the unique value you can bring to the company, and don’t be afraid to show it off.
  4. Be a good salesperson: In any job, sales or otherwise, it’s important to believe in what you are selling and want to build genuine relationships with people. Very simply, selling is communicating something you are passionate about to others. Passion combined with an extensive understanding of your industry, the company you are pitching to, and perseverance will help you get ahead in a sales career. Find your rhythm and when it starts to work (i.e. you sign up some clients, big or small) use that momentum to your advantage and stay ahead of the curve