Sales manager — Sarah Lockett
After achieving a BA in Popular Music and Recording and a MA in Music at the University of Salford, Sarah moved to London to pursue a live sound engineering career. She returned to Manchester to become a sales manager for the C. Bechstein Centre's piano showroom
Why did you choose to study these courses at this institution?
After studying for a BTEC in Music Technology at Mid Cheshire College (now renamed as Warrington & Vale Royal College), I was advised that the popular music and recording degree at Salford was fantastic.
After looking at the full details of the course, I liked the fact that it covered a comprehensive range of subjects within music, such as composition, technology, performance, arranging, acoustics and theory.
How did postgraduate life differ to that of undergraduate?
It was more focused on self-study, and you had the time to work on what you wanted while having a few challenges thrown at you along the way.
How did you get your job in piano retail?
I began my career within the piano retail industry after completing my undergraduate degree and Masters. I had moved to London to pursue a career in live sound engineering, however, instead landed a job in a piano shop as an administrator and taught piano on the side.
After a couple of years, I decided that I wanted to move back to Manchester. I managed to progress my career in piano sales as a sales consultant in a local piano shop where I was quickly promoted to a senior position. I then landed my role of sales manager at the C. Bechstein Centre Manchester, a new piano showroom based in the city centre.
What's a typical day like?
My role involves acting as assistant manager to the managing director in all aspects of the business. A typical day starts off ensuring that the showroom is in a presentable condition maintained to very high standards before opening. I then greet any customers using the practice studios, offer advice about the range of pianos and various models for purchase, organise recitals for the showroom, and answer any phone calls or email enquiries.
A big part of my job is also focusing on the general day-to-day running of the showroom - for example, bookkeeping, organising maintenance contractors, HR, marketing, social media marketing and ordering replacement pianos.
I also hold a weekly sales meeting with our team to discuss leads and strategise on how to follow them up.
What do you enjoy about your job as a sales manager?
I really enjoy talking to and advising customers and my colleagues and the fact that not every day is the same. I'm also in a lucky position to work with a team of like-minded and talented people within such a peaceful environment.
What are the challenges?
These are mainly waiting for companies to get back to you in time to meet deadlines.
In what ways is your degree relevant?
We attract a lot of customers working within the music industry, many of whom have also studied a similar course at university. I feel this has helped me to communicate better with our customers and even my colleagues. My degree provided me with the starting point of my career, even if I did end up going down a completely different path to what I had originally intended.
How has your career developed, and what are your ambitions?
Since leaving university, my career has moved in many different directions from live sound engineering to piano teaching and even working behind a bar at one point. After moving back to Manchester, I decided to focus and develop my career entirely in the acoustic piano industry.
As most piano shops are small independent businesses or family owned, it's often difficult to work your way up to a higher position. Joining C. Bechstein at their new showroom has allowed me to progress my career from a senior to a sales manager with more responsibility. My ambition is to eventually solely run the showroom and progress up to the next position.
What tips would you give to others considering a career in music?
- Keep going and don't put too much pressure on yourself. You never know where you'll end up.
- Keep working on yourself and adapting. I recently began studying digital marketing, which has been worthwhile and has complimented my role as sales manager.
- Familiarise and network with those in your chosen field.
Find out more
- Explore other careers in music.
- Discover what it's like working in the sales and retail sectors.
- Read about the C. Bechstein Centre in Manchester.