Plunged into the deep end in telesales sounds like the worst nightmare for an introvert, but it was how David Bentley cut his teeth and launched him into a successful sales career. Ten years ago he founded Cranford Group, bringing the best IT talent to businesses across the UK.
What is it the company does?
Essentially, we provide highly-skilled people to businesses or deploy project teams. We’re a specialist cloud, DevOps and technology assured resource provider, delivering pre-qualified teams and people, work packages, and end-to-end services and solutions, on-demand – working with both public and private sector enterprises across the whole of the UK.
Describe your role in no more than 100 words.
As the CEO of Cranford, I’m responsible for the strategy and direction of the business as a whole. It’s my job to ensure the company remains financially robust, and that we have the right people on board to do the job – the cultivation of a close-knit leadership team is important to me.
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?
When I started out, I took a contract in telesales, where I was thrown in at the deep end and given no training at all. At the time I was quite an introvert, so it was certainly a steep learning curve!
Following this, I went into selling IT consumables for a much bigger firm, then continued in the sales arena, working for an IT solutions provider, before moving into recruitment and taking on the role of a consultant.
Then I founded Cranford, which I have run for the last 10 years!
What do you believe makes a great leader?
Authenticity, consistency, and a dedication to excellence. It’s about having the ability to stick to your guns, in terms of who you are.
A vital element of a great leader is also the possession of unwavering focus, yet being prepared to listen to others, and change where needed.
What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
Scaling Cranford to where it is now. The business was stuck at a certain size for about four years, but I kept striving for growth.
Looking back, I learnt so much in those few years – and by continuing to work at it, the results came in the end.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
I find it important to exercise, and I enjoy listening to music.
One thing which really helps me is a change of environment. It’s vital not to get caught up in dwelling on something – a simple relocation to another area creates a whole new dynamic.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A racing driver, as I always liked cars – especially my (toy) Porsche!
Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?
The undercurrent of a message is something I dislike, and I think it’s crucial to speak up about any problems. Out in the open is the best place to deal with any issues – they should always be called out.
Openness and honesty in a person is vital. People who create problems in my organisation don’t stay around for long!
Where do you see the company in five years time?
I’d like to see further change, in terms of the adoption of different ways of working – with a focus on more solution-orientated practices.
Any business will reach a point of critical mass, and to me, it’s far more important that we get better and better – not bigger and bigger.
Even through growth, I want to ensure we keep the right team on board, as this is ultimately a family business and we all enjoy working together – I don’t want this to change.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
Be prepared, as things are always harder – and take longer – than you think.
Ideas are great, but it’s the execution of them that is key.
What do you wish that someone had told you when you started out?
Keep going – the sun will still come up tomorrow!
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