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Eight questions to... a head of car sales

Phil Webb, head of cars at Honda UK,

What are the main responsibilities of your role?

Phil Webb: My main responsibilities are to sell vehicles and to motivate and develop the team – that includes those in head office, the sales team out on the road and our dealer network – ensuring our brand is represented at the right level in the market.  

I also have to set the volume targets each month and make commitments to both Honda Motor Europe (HME) and the Honda factories across the world in terms of what we will sell.

Honda UK sales make up 35-40% of the total volume across Europe, so I spend a lot of time working with the HME team on best practice and assisting in rolling out our strategies across the rest of Europe.  

 

What are the most significant challenges ahead in your field of work?

Webb: The most significant challenge for us in 2017 is the launch of the 10th-generation Civic. The car is not just seen as a new Civic, it is seen as a new Honda car.

We are well underway with our 12-month programme to roll the car out, starting with our new range of turbocharged petrol derivatives.

Shortly, we will launch the new Civic Type R, which will be the most powerful Civic ever produced.

Towards the end of the year, we will expand the range to include a diesel derivative, which will then complete the line-up.

 

How might these challenges be overcome?

Webb: We see 2017 as a huge opportunity and we are working very hard alongside our dealer network in order to make this car launch the best ever for Honda in the UK. There is a real buzz of anticipation across the business and the dealer network for this new model.  

Honda had a fantastic 2016 and there’s a positive vibe for 2017 both internally and externally.

We are confident the Civic will be a success – already more than half of the dealer network teams have completed their online training for the new Civic on the first day it was available to them.

I think also because the launch is spread over a 12-month period – it gives us a 12-month opportunity.  We aren’t taking a short-term viewpoint on the launch of this car.

 

What attracted you to this area of expertise?

Webb: I’ve been working for Honda for 19 years and have held two senior management posts prior to my current role – head of power products and head of dealer development – so have been involved in and around the car business for a long time.

I originally started off as area sales manager, so have got the knowledge and know-how of the business and how it works in the UK. It was a natural fit for me when the role became available and I went for it.

 

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in your career, and how have you made use of it at your company?

Webb: It’s the people that make it. Plain and simple, it is the people that you work with. As such, I never want to be introduced to anyone as their boss – we work together to achieve our goals.

That is something we have put across to our dealer network – and that is also why we use the word ‘partnership’ a lot in our communications and dealings with the network. We are a team and that is the most important thing I have learned in my career.

 

What drives you?

Webb: Success and achievement: Seeing the associates within Honda develop and progress and hitting the numbers at the end of the month.

 

What’s your favourite app?

Webb: BBC Sport.

 

How do you relax?

Webb: I do a lot of walking and listen to a lot of music, but my kids are incredibly important. I watch my son play semi-professional football at the weekend and my daughter, who represents the UK in cheerleading, is about to head to the US to compete.

 



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