Charlotte Channing-Jones, Carparison's General Sales Manager
Beth Twigg

Beth Twigg

Beth is a Digital Copywriter in the Carparison marketing team, tasked with creating great articles to keep you both entertained and informed. She has two years previous experience, but has been writing and scribbling for much longer.

Read time of 5 minutes.

At the helm of every great sales team is a great Sales Manager, and luckily for us, we've got the best one in the business.

Despite the industry being a precarious place at times, Charlotte has been pushing the team forward, securing some fantastic wins and creating a culture where everyone feels valued and listened to.

We sat down with Charlotte before International Women's Day to find out more about what she does, how she worked her way up the ranks, and why she thinks more women should join the automotive industry.

How did you get into the motor industry?

The first role I went for I didn't get initially.

The recruitment firm told me the interview had been unsuccessful. But I knew I was the right person for the job, so I pushed for them to interview me. The second time around I was given the job.

I had to be firm, but it paid off, and I worked my way up the ranks, going from Account Administrator to Account Manager.

Being an Account Manager at this time was great fun - I got to travel to Germany for product knowledge days, and I travelled up and down the country meeting brokers. Business was booming and I learnt everything I could.

But after Covid hit, I was the most senior member left on the team, and I knew I needed a new challenge.

I was recruited to Carparison as a Transaction Manager about a year ago. It's been challenging being on the other side: working for a broker instead of managing external broker relationships. There was so much to learn in the first six months alone.

There was a turning point before Christmas, not long before I started as General Sales Manager, where I realised that Carparison invests so much into the technology, systems, and people to make it happen.

Getting into the motor industry for me was a lot of 'right people, right time'. I do push myself, and I am determined, but if it wasn't for the people, culture, and environment at Carparison, I probably wouldn't have made that last step.

What's it like working in a sales environment?

I've always had an interest in how to communicate with others, and how to mirror people's behaviours. I've invested a lot of time into understanding people and how to talk effectively to them.

There are so many different characters on the sales floor, and so many different events happening at once. There are always plates to spin and different directions to be pulled in.

Finding that balance is important.

Sales can be so up and down - when there are fewer sales on the board, it's important to recognise and overcome any challenges that might have arisen instead of feeling defeated.

What challenges have you faced?

I don't think there's ever been a time when someone has questioned the fact that I'm a woman.

I do think I spent a lot of time, during my Account Manager days, gathering more knowledge than I needed so if anyone ever questioned me, I could show them how well I did my job and how many cars I'd sold.

There is still a clear split between 'males in sales' and 'females in admin' - but the industry is starting to change.

With the right support and a lot of hard work, I'm happy and comfortable in the position I'm in now. I'm not treated as just a 'woman', but as a highly motivated and confident individual.

Should more women join the motor trade?

You need balance in the automotive industry - just look at Carparison. It isn't just men who buy cars, so it shouldn't just be men who sell cars.

Women feeling comfortable to ask their own questions and shop around for their own cars, rather than having a man do it for them, is something we're working towards changing.

It's harder to entice people into the industry though.

Because of how it's been in the past, I do think someone can see the job title 'Vehicle Leasing Consultant' and think 'that's a male role'. But it isn't.

The job itself is more than just selling cars.

Of course, that's the end game. But to get there it's about identifying a need and finding a solution - it's much more consultative. We have to navigate through the sales journey with the customer to find them a solution that works.

It's not just giving them a quote on a Honda Jazz because that's what they've enquired on, it's making sure that the Jazz is going to fit their needs.

What's the biggest change you've seen in the industry?

The motor industry is vast.

There's always something new to learn, and there are so many different roles. No two days are the same, even when the processes are quite repetitive.

The biggest change I've seen is in technology.

Not just in our own systems - though I've seen us switch from paper systems to everything being fully online - but the tech that's inside the cars.

I remember when Apple CarPlay first came out, and infotainment systems expanded beyond just their standard capabilities with voice control. Displays like the heads-up system too, that projects dials on the dashboard like the petrol gauge or speedometer onto the windscreen so you don't have to take your eyes off the road, show just how far technology has come.

What change would you like to see?

From the outside looking in I think it can be seen to be very male-dominated, but from the inside looking out it's not that scary.

I was fortunate to step into a role where I was surrounded by the right people and I was able to flourish through being given the right support and being determined enough to go for what I wanted.

But there is still change that needs to happen.

Like with Formula 1, where you don't see many female drivers. But look across to Formula E, the electric version, and there are so many female drivers. The rule book has been thrown out - it's fresh and new, which might be why female drivers have been embraced.

It's the same with Carparison too. We're not holding onto the automotive legacy. We have a personality, there are a lot of characters on the team, and that's what makes us different.

The culture here is different too, and it's changing for the better. If you're the right person for the role, you're the right person for the role.

Gender shouldn't come into that decision.