Business Development and Sales

When we talk about sales we are considering, sales management, account management and business development management (BDM). We understand that there is much debate about the differences between being a salesman and a business development manager - you can find a fantastic blog post from Martyn Hillier, BDM of Tunafish Media which goes a bit further into this. However, to keep things simple we'll consider "Sales Roles" to include all of the above. In reality you will find the job titles are interchangeable depending upon the company doing the recruiting.

Okay firstly you may be asking why are sales needed within the UK Nuclear Industry? In fact there are many sales jobs within the industry which revolve around three categories:

  • Sales / Business Development Management; 

  • Account / Product Management;

  • Tender Management;

  • Administration Support;

 

These categories of roles all revolve around the sales process of successfully winning work within the UK Nuclear Industry. The sales process in the nuclear industry can be a lengthy affair months and even years in some instances. Due to the nature of the work and particularly the barriers to entry into the sector much work is put in at the front end of the process trying to successfully progress through the PQQ (Pre-Qualification Questionnaire) stage in which companies who would like to tender for work demonstrate the capability and capacity to be able to deliver the work. Successfully de-selected companies who make it through the PQQ stage are provided with an ITT (Invitation to Tender) and are invited to prepare a proposal to deliver the work.

Business Development

Prior to this stage most companies employ a Sales Manager or Business Development Manager to engage with potential customers and network with with potential collaborators and competitors within the market. The day-to-day activities attributable to these roles is dependant upon the size, capability and tier (see below) of the company you will be working for.

 

You will need to be an energetic highly motivated person who enjoys building and developing relationships with potentially very professional, senior and influential people in the industry. You will pretty much certainly need to be able to drive and, in a lot of cases, will spend much of your time travelling up and down the country and potentially travelling overseas. This is a very challenging but rewarding role for the right person. If you are a person from outside of the industry this is definitely not a blocker to successfully landing yourself a role as although you will need to be quick to learn your specific business and market the detailed technical discussions can be lead by you subject matter experts (SME's) in your company. You need to make the initial exchange and arrange the follow-up further detailed discussion. Also, the nuclear vetting requirements are applicable and will vary dependant upon the business, role and location.

Account Management / Product Management

Once the initial contact has been made, an opportunity for further discussion agreed and arranged the BDM can hand over to the Account or Product Manager. An Account Manager is responsible for the specific relationship with a customer (e.g. Sellafield Ltd) or sector (e.g. Decommissioning) and manages all relationships within the 'account' once an opportunity has been identified. Conversely a Product Manager is responsible for a specific product (e.g. hydraulic manipulator) or function (e.g. mechanical handling) and manages the 'product' horizontally across all of the different accounts within a business.

 

As with the BDM you will need to be a motivated, driven individual who is good at developing relationships but to build on this you will need to have a much more in depth knowledge of your 'account' or 'product' to be able to sell the benefits to the customer influencing them to consider working with you. This is culminated in a invitation to tender for work via a Request for Quotation (RFQ) or for larger contracts via successfully getting through the PQQ phase and receiving an ITT. As with the BDM the ability and drive and meet the vetting requirements are a must.

Tender Management

Once an ITT is received it is then over to a Tendering / Proposal Manager to pull the offer together which is proposed to the customer. Dependant upon the size of tender this could be anything from a £200 bracket with a response time of 1 day, to a £30,000 'tool' with a response turn around of 3 weeks to a £10m encapsulation plant with a response return required within 3 months or £1b full solution EPC (Engineer, Procure, Construct) contract with a tender period of 12 months+.

 

The roles within the tendering team can therefore massively vary dependant on the project being tendered for. The role of the Tendering Manager is to bring together the correct group of people to pull together the winning offer to the customer whilst respecting the price to tender budget laid out by upper management. The role of the tendering manager in larger organisations can be very similar to the role of a project manager. 

 

To be a successful Tendering Manager you will need to be a highly motivated and organised person who is driven to meet deadlines and happy to lead and motivate a team to achieve success. Although you do not need the qualification associated with gaining a role in Project Management a lot of the traits and attitudes are the same. The ability to drive may not be a must here but will definitely help and of course the usual vetting requirements are applicable.

Tender Co-ordination

To support all of the above there is much work that is needed to be done in the background to ensure things run smoothly. This involves travel arrangements, organisation of brochures and marketing materials, administration of customer relationship databases, organising of senior management approval meetings and any one of the million-and-one tasks and challenges encountered during the day. 

 

To get yourself a role as a sales / tendering co-ordinator / assistant you will need to have a base skill level of working with all of the major computer software (MS Office, Outlook) and the ability to quickly learn and adapt to company specific systems and processes (e.g. CRM). You will need to be organised and helpful with the ability to multi task. Vetting requirements are applicable here dependant upon the work that you will be dealing with.

 

Now you have a good understanding of the different roles available in sales within the UK Nuclear Industry you can continue by looking at jobs or training within the other sections of the site.

The UK Nuclear Tiering structure:

Tier Onethe technology vendors; these are the ultimate customer to the majority of the supply chain - Sellafield Ltd, MoD, Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems, EDF, AREVA are some of the big players over recent years. This tier is set to increase in the near future with the increase in Tier Ones' involved in the delivery of the Nuclear New Builds (NNB).

 

Tier Twothe systems integrators; these are the larger companies who manage the delivery of much of the work on a sub-contract basis to the Tier Ones - Wood, AECOM, M+W, Nuvia, Atkins, Cavendish Nuclear have been some of the major player over recent years in this tier. This tier is a stalwart of the UK Nuclear Industry and although you will see some further entrants into the tier it will remain pretty stable during the NNB era.

 

Tier Threeequipment manufacturers and Tier Foursub-component suppliers; we have put these tiers together as although the tier threes potentially sub-contract to the tier fours they all tend to undertake a less broad range of activities whilst specialising in specific tasks such as manufacture of specific components or undertaking specific tasks. This is the tier where the action will be when the NNBs really kickstart as once the contracts have been awarded to the tier two's and larger tier three's the work will start to flow down quickly through the tier three's and four's and this is where the bottle necks will appear and it will be difficult to maintain the programme of works if enough suppliers at these levels can be utilised.

 

This is the reason that the Fit For Nuclear programme from the NAMRC has been running for a number of years to try and assess the gaps and the qualify companies who have not worked within the industry beforehand and provide them with an assurance that they are fit to work in the nuclear industry. Over 300 companies have entered the programme to date with the 100 companies being successful so far being listed in the Directory of Fit For Nuclear Companies which is accessible in the public domain and is a great source for existing nuclear companies to expand their supply chain.