Carole Caplin, Lifesmart - Entrepreneur and Former Lifestyle Guru to Cherie Blair

Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013


In my early twenties, I went into sales and marketing with a progressive young company called The Exhibitionists, which put on exhibitions for other firms. We also provided personnel to sell the products on the stands.

One day, the mother company told us we'd been approached by a firm called STC to sell off 3,500 telex machines within a three-month period. They had no sales teams, so we would provide the staff.

We'd never done anything like that before. I'd just turned 21. I thought: I am going to go on the appointment - and I sold it. I found five girls, interviewed them, did the recruitment and trained them. We got an 89% conversion rate in the trial. Because of that, STC asked us to take on 15 more girls and within the three months we'd exceeded every target.

As a result of that project we won a British Direct Marketing Award.

I felt incredibly grateful to the MD for giving me the opportunity to take a risk and be involved. Everything I do today comes out of the five years I worked with that company.


When I was made sales director at STC, I had to hire people and I remember doing an interview with one girl who was quite young. She was either going to be fantastic or she was going to be a real problem.

I should have started her on exhibition production but I put her straight into sales, because she really wanted to do that. But she wanted to survive rather than tell the truth, so a lot of her results were not what she said they were. That nearly cost us quite a bit.

She had a target of £20,000 at the end of one week and she said she had got that target, and produced a contract.

I had a feeling in my bones over the weekend and rang the prospective client and found that they hadn't signed the contract. We rescued it, but after hiring the girl and making that mistake, I never left recruitment decisions to instinct again.

I think I'm not a very good judge of character if it's anything to do with where I'm personally involved. But if you asked me to recruit for you, I'd probably be brilliant.

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