Regional Sales Director, North - Building Systems Manufacturer

Regional Sales Director – 3 brands combined to make a total building system


Collingwood’s longstanding client is at the forefront of building product innovation and has revenue close to £250 million in the UK and globally operates at €2bn through 20+ trading countries. Last year they enjoyed aggressive growth. Their system solution incorporates three individual brands that have been pulled together, all of which are highly recognisable in their own right. They distinguish themselves from competition by not selling a commoditised product range, instead creating value through partnerships with customers and offering strong specification drivers.

THE ROLE & its challenges

The person stepping into this role would hold responsibility for £80m of revenue generated from the northern region. It was envisaged 60% of their time would be spent on the road with customers and the team. With the lack of succession planning through the commercial teams, the UK Sales Director was keen to recruit a person who, in time, would challenge for his position. 

Coupled with the above, this manufacturer has, for many years, had exacting standards and demanding expectations from the profile of candidates. Both the UK Sales Director and HR Director were upfront about the fact that they had already “fished” around their usual bank of contingency recruiters trying to fill the role but were underwhelmed by the results. It was the HR Director that therefore got in touch with Collingwood’s Head of Building Products, Mark Goldsmith, having worked well with him several times in the past.

In further compounding what was always going to be a limited pool of potential candidates to headhunt from, the size of this northern area would not suit a manager of a small team, nor a fully-fledged Sales Director who was used to having full control of sales strategy. 

This recruit, along with their southern counterpart, will sit on the business steering committee made up of the Sales Director, HR Director, Plant Directors, Manufacturing Director and Marketing Director. This senior management team meets once a month to focus on the current year’s strategy execution and keeps track of performance against it. Moving forward, there will be more emphasis put on creating a challenging environment, where performance is tested throughout the northern team.


As a result of the client having already used advert-led agencies, it was clear the solution would be achieved using Collingwood’s primary focus: a research led headhunted approach. Due to the mix of markets in building products that this person would have to manage, teams in (merchant, distributors specification - architects, contractors), Mark put together sub sectors he knew would be exposed to this mix. Shared with the Sales Director, these included such areas as roofing, building envelope manufacturers (façade systems, glazing) commercial flooring and commercial doors by way of examples. 

Once agreed, Mark then researched companies within these sectors and names of their Sales Directors, National Sales Managers and, where appropriate, Regional Sales Managers. From an original company target list of 58 businesses, there were only 30 individuals who would be “ripe” for this position. It was clear these people had to be individually contacted via phone calls to establish personal connection rather than a typical recruitment spray and pray approach.

Mark was also able to network into his long-established network of senior building product contacts to identify potential candidates and gain referrals to recommended individuals. He also developed a social media strategy to raise the profile of this opportunity. 


This research and approach work took around four weeks to complete and 7 interested candidates were identified as being of the right level and quality.

The client feedback on these 7 was exceptional, with the Sales Director commenting on how impressed he was with the quality “on paper”. Mark met these 7 candidates face to face to assess their abilities against the brief; not only in terms of their ability and exposure to the given markets but, as importantly, culturally whether they would have the strength, leadership and strategic skills to develop within the business and succeed in pulling together a fairly disparate team.

  • The client agreed to meet all five Mark recommended, along with one recommendation they had gained directly early on in the process. Again, impressed with the quality of what he was presented with, the Sales Director took one forward to final interview along with their own candidate.  Armed with the intelligence to what the market genuinely offered, the client progressed with their own recommendation, but were quick to state they would not hesitate in offering Marks candidate should anything else crop up. Their decision was purely based on knowing the other candidate for a number of years as a supplier of theirs and so was a tried and tested pair of hands.

Collingwood’s data led approach allowed the client to make a measured decision.