Interview: EN Awards winner Tansy Clark

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To say Tansy Clark enjoys a thrill or two in life is an understatement. When she’s not travelling around the world working for i2i Events, Clark finds time to train how to jump out of a plane by herself. Having recently arrived back from Texas at a competitor show, Clark said she’s now looking to settle into her new role of international commercial manager of educational show, Bett Latin America, after being promoted in April this year. Clark joined i2i Events Group as sales manager in 2009, and began working on the Bett range. “On the London show I was looking after the top 25 clients including Microsoft, Dell, and Adobe,” said Clark. “I sourced and won new key accounts such as Google and Cisco at the show we held in January. It was probably the best show I’ve ever done.” Bett 2013 moved to Excel from Olympia, and attracted 41,432 visitors (ABC audited), and claimed to be the show’s most successful year to date, with an 18 per cent rise on last year’s event. “I was managing all of the relationships on the UK event, and now I’m going to be bringing them to the Latin American event,” said Clark. Her new role involves managing the floor plan and sponsorship sales of newly acquired Bett Latin America and Educar 2014. She said the event was a family-run company so for the time being, the local office will be managing all of the Brazilian sales and Clark’s role will involve her bringing in more international companies and global brands to the event. “It might not sound like a full-time job, but it’s an absolute mammoth beast,” Clark confesses to EN. “We found that 50 per cent of Bett UK exhibitors were interested in exhibiting in a show based in Latin America. So, we acquired the Educar event and the first one we’re launching is the Bett Latin America Leadership Summit in October which is a two-day conference.” While that currently takes up most of her time, Clark will shortly begin to sell on the May 2014 event. “I’ve left the UK behind unfortunately, but now I’m managing the international Bett shows and any we plan to launch. The travelling part of the job just happens to be a bonus,” Clark said. Born and raised in Tunbridge Wells, Clark moved to London for the city life and to begin her career in exhibition sales. “Not many people grow up wanting to be a salesperson or strive to become one when they’re young, the majority of people fall into it and luckily I fell into it and I don’t think I’m too bad at it,” said Clark. “Not everyone enjoys what they do so I’m lucky in that respect.” Clark began her 10-year career in sales with Blank Canvas Publishing. “Richard Lawn gave me my first sales job and break into the industry. I was this cocky little 20-year old who’d just got back from travelling. I asked him to give me a chance, he did and I’ve never looked back,” she said. “I hadn’t worked in sales before but I started selling advertising space for ProAudio magazine and got a taste for exhibitions when we started exhibiting.” Clark said it was as if a light bulb had flashed on in her head as she realised the money potential in exhibitions and events. She joined Informa shortly after her realisation and began working on the Com World series of events for four years. “I was going to Cape Town, Singapore, Dubai and Brazil, to all these fantastic places once a month and selling across the whole range. It was a bit of a shock when I left and joined i2i Events, going from all of these exotic places to then venture up the road to London, Birmingham and Scotland.” But it seems Clark has gone full circle and has fittingly moved back onto an international role once more. “I always say if you can sell, you can sell anything. But when you have a good brand to work with, it makes it more enjoyable because you believe in it,” Clark tells EN. “Bett’s quite a unique brand – I believe we are the best at what we do. You have a lot of education events and you have a lot of technology events but there aren’t many education and technology events so that’s why we’re launching the Bett product around the world because there’s such a fantastic gap in the market.” Clark believes there is a lot of pressure placed on her because the international sales for the Latin American show are solely on her shoulders, as she is the only member on the international sales team. Not one for dwelling, Clark said there is no doubt the show will be a success. “I don’t have to force myself to get up and go to work, and get motivated. What’s the saying - if you love your job then you don’t ever have to work a day in your life? I’ve been given a fantastic opportunity and I want to prove myself.” It’s not surprising then that her determination and self-motivation won her the Exhibition News Salesperson of the Year award. “This is the exhibitions industry and that’s the best you can be. That was my shining moment,” blushes Clark. “It’s nice to be recognised, because I genuinely do enjoy my work and I work hard.” As coveted as the prize is, it is only another award to add onto Clark’s mantelpiece. In 2012, she won Most Productive Salesperson of the year at i2i’s internal awards, and earlier this year she won the CEO Special Recognition award. According to Clark, she made more than 20,000 calls and clocked up a total of £1.25m in stand and sponsoring sales last year. “Being recognised internally is fantastic but being recognised within the whole industry is something else.” Bett 2013 was also a recipient of an award, winning the AEO excellence award for Best Tradeshow Exhibition of more than 2,000sqm. Clark takes her own approach to selling and said that rejection doesn’t come into the equation. “There’s a whole world to speak to. You’re not relying on that one sale, so just dust yourself off and get back on the horse, so to say. “I have had sales training in the past but my sales technique has grown so much over the years working with different people at different companies, that it’s evolved so much since I started out, and it seems to work for me. You will sell the way you want to sell.” Clark explains that in sales, sometimes you have to install pressure and create the ‘plan of fear’ with clients. “It is a lot about tailoring to the client so you need to change your pitch, the way you handle each objection and adapt yourself to clients.” Apart from her two cats at home and a baby tortoise called Bo that keep her “grounded”, Clark said the end result of an exhibition is what has kept her in the industry. “It’s nice to have an end product. When you work on an annual exhibition, you work on that project for the whole year and put blood sweat and tears into it. When you walk through the doors during set-up, there’s no other feeling like it. We did this, we made this happen,” said Clark. “It’s just lovely to see the result of your hard work. You’ve been speaking to exhibitors all year, and they’re happy and thankful for having that end product we can both be proud of.” This was first published in the August issue of EN. Any comments? Email exhibitionnews@mashmedia.net
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