Martin Smith – Retail Account Manager
We sat down with Martin Smith, the newest member of the account management team, to get the low down on his first year in the role and why working for Phillips 66 Limited is a personal, full-circle moment.
Tell us a little about your career prior to joining Phillips 66 Limited and how you came to join the team.
I’ve gained experience from a number of different sectors. My very first role was with the military – as a policeman with the Airforce. After four years (it didn’t play out in quite the way it was initially sold) I moved into estate agency and worked my way up to sales manager before moving to Virgin Media – first in retail management and then field management looking after multiple sites. After 10 years, I was looking to progress my career, my learnings (and earnings!) and was keen to explore a B2B role, so took a job at Imperial Brands as an area development manager. Five years in and having learnt a lot, I felt ready for the next challenge and this role came along (thank you LinkedIn algorithms!) and it genuinely felt like a full-circle moment. I’m born, bred and live in Grimsby (very close to the Humber Refinery) and I knew the business well because my dad worked at the Refinery (when it was Conoco) for more than 20 years as a plant operator. There was definitely an emotional pull – so this role and working for Phillips 66 Limited is multi-layered and I couldn’t be happier to be here.
You are 14-months into the role – how has it been?
It’s been really good. Overwhelming at first, meeting a lot of different people in very different roles, but I was keen to speak with as many people as possible to really get to grips with the role and fully understand the nuts and bolts of the business – to appreciate the bigger picture. A steep learning curve, for sure, but hugely enjoyable.
I spent a lot of time with Graham (Graham Clout, Retail Sales Manager) and the other account managers – in particular Gary Conway and Matt Pougher who have been massively supportive and generous with their time. We are a very close team, and everyone made the process of joining, as a newbie, really easy. What was so strange about joining Phillips 66 Limited was how natural it felt. And I think a lot of that is down to Graham and his values and ethos. To use a football analogy, I would say we are very much a reflection of the coach. We are supported but have autonomy – and with that comes trust, creativity and accountability.
What does a typical day look like for you?
That’s a tricky one – not sure there is ever a typical day! It is such a varied role – but as a rough rule of thumb perhaps one or two days a week at home doing remote meetings, catching up on admin, various team meetings etc – and the rest out and about on the road. I have approximately 30 sites and look after the ‘North’ (pretty much the M62 corridor) and like to do as many site visits and face-to-face as possible. I would say the role is more or less evenly split between managing/nurturing our existing accounts and prospecting – finding and developing new opportunities. I’ve learnt, and continue to learn, that you have to be flexible and nuanced with your approach. It’s about tuning in, and making sure that the service and support you are offering is relevant and what’s needed. There’s no one-size-fits-all, definitive approach – and while that can be challenging it’s ultimately what makes the role so satisfying.
More and more sites are moving to JET – why do you think that is?
There are two main reasons: JET as a brand is known for being reliable. In simple terms, our customers pay us to provide fuel and if we weren’t reliable, we wouldn’t retain them. And secondly, I think it’s down to the power of strong relationships. Our customers trust us and we work hard to earn and retain that trust. Getting someone to switch suppliers is tough – and we have to work hard to help our prospects make that transition. Ultimately, it’s a leap of faith.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Never be afraid to make a mistake. A young me was fearful of getting it wrong – but I know now that we learn through our mistakes and it is how you react to them which is more important.
What are the three abilities/attributes you need to do your job well?
Empathy, resilience, enthusiasm.
What are your hopes and ambitions for 2024?
I would like to land my first prospect. I held several positive meetings during 2023 so am optimistic that I will make good progress this year bringing in new accounts.
Tell us something about you we don’t know.
I was signed to Grimsby Town FC as a teenager and remain an avid supporter.