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Eight questions to… a head of dealer and direct marketing

Sanka De Silva, Kia

What are the main responsibilities of your role?

De Silva: As the head of dealer and direct marketing, I am responsible for the strategic direction of dealer, tactical, aftersales, fleet and direct marketing at
Kia Motors UK. 

One of my key responsibilities is to act as the custodian of the brand on behalf of the UK executive management. It is my duty to ensure we represent our core brand values to both our customers via our communications and to our dealers through point-of-sale and dealer events. 

I am also leading an alternative fuel project team with a sponsor at Kia Motors UK.


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

De Silva: I’m a big believer that we cannot stand still. If we do something unique today, it would be a surprise or bring added benefit to the customer, but it would be the norm tomorrow.

With regards to dealers, the market is tough and profitability is always challenging. We have to work with our dealer partners to ensure that we increase our efficiencies, ranging from showroom standards and dealer marketing to lead management.

Looking at things that sit outside our control, legislation such as GDPR is no doubt a challenge for anyone who owns a database and needs repeat business. We have to give clear reasons to customers to ensure we get their consent to speak to them again.


How might those challenges be overcome?

De Silva: Firstly identify the challenge, do a lot of research to give you sufficient information to take an educated judgement or calculated risk, define the outcome of your expectations, launch a solution with a clear plan and a strategy with the end-user in mind and finally the most important step would be to follow up and review every step of the way. 


What attracted you to this area of expertise?

De Silva: My role provides me with the opportunity to interact with the two most important stakeholders – the customers and the dealerships.  

My experience in marketing allows me to ensure that the customer is at the heart of everything we do and we plan our activities around the customer’s requirements. Having worked in sales, I also understand the importance our partners – the dealerships represent our brand to a customer. We have to trust and rely on our partners to showcase our brand values.

Our job is to consistently find smart marketing
initiatives to build brand awareness and promote our models while delivering a profitable solution to our dealer partners and exceeding customer expectations. 


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

De Silva: The importance of a team. You can have the best idea and process, but in our industry we rely on the teams to deliver our vision. You can only be as good as your team.

Whatever job I’ve had, I’ve always tried to take the team with me on the journey. No one likes change in a team, but we all like to enjoy the benefits of a positive change. I always try to create a culture where my teams are working hard to achieve a common goal while helping each other out.


What drives you?  

A successful legacy. I am always striving hard to ensure that I achieve mid- to long-term success. 


What’s your favourite app?

An app called Between. With laptops and mobile phones, you can never switch off. Between is
basically a calendar I share with my wife to ensure we plan for life outside both of our jobs.  


How do you relax?

Travelling. As a family, we try to plan a few holidays a year. Choosing a location, preparing for it and reviewing the holiday pictures is a great way to relax. Bora Bora is definitely the best place I’ve visited to date.


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