People Story | Leighton Mitchell | Head of Business Development, DMC Healthcare

Leighton Mitchell, Head of Business Development at DMC Healthcare, talks through his sales journey to date and his plans for DMC.

"Believe it or not, being a sales man wasn't always my dream"

I was enamoured by war stories as a child and became a keen military history nerd, probably starting with my love of hearing my grandads’ WW2 stories, as well as having uncles in the army and navy. I joined the Air Cadets at 13 where I relished the fantastic experiences it offered and by 17, I had made the rank of Sergeant. I very much considered myself a patriot, so in the aftermath of 9/11, I set my heart on going to Sandhurst and becoming an officer in the Parachute Regiment. After developing a deep interest for media and current affairs at college, I started my degree in Media Studies at Worcester University whilst preparing myself physically for life in the infantry. In my final year, a family bereavement put my plans on hold and ultimately changed my life trajectory, which with hindsight, will have literally allowed me to dodge a bullet in Iraq!

“My uncle put me on an unexpected and uncomfortable path”

My uncle Robin has always been my mentor and has taught me a lot of what I know about business, via his very successful access control company. I had already set up several small businesses of my own, including being an event promoter and Avon representative. Rob understood that I couldn’t be tied down to a desk job and persuaded me that sales could offer me the variety and ‘action’ that I needed, as well as the fact that there was no better skill to learn in business. He started his career selling Kirby vacuum cleaners door to door and convinced me that this was the best sales experience he ever had. I followed in his footsteps knocking doors for British Gas. It was an unforgiving role, starting in a freezing Birmingham winter, travelling by public transport, but I stuck with it and after a week of trying, I finally made my first sale.

"Robin was right"

Everything escalated quickly from that first sale, and within a few weeks I had become a keen student of sales psychology. I was promoted after 6 months, tasked with training new starters and was making good money for a university graduate! I became somewhat addicted to the buzz of my success and sales education. I ended up staying well over the 6 months I had originally planned and even won an award for being in the top 2% of advisors in the country at the year mark. At this point I was ‘sold’ and embarked on my sales career in earnest.

"An education in selling"

After passing an evaluation day with the premier graduate recruitment agency at the time, I decided that either medical or IT sales would suit me best and was subsequently offered an account manager role at an Auto-ID reseller called Worldwide solutions. I learned a lot, and after several sizeable successes was promoted to internal sales manager and given field sales experience supporting the business development managers. The company also agreed to fund an Advanced Diploma with the Institute of Sales and Marketing Management (ISMM) which I relished despite the challenge.

"RFID tags and QR codes"

While at Worldwide Solutions, I was headhunted to work for a market leader in RFID and barcoding solutions called DataScan Solutions. I managed the south of England, dealing with large blue-chip clients, including car manufacturers, household name food and drug companies, the MOD, NHS and many more! In my mid-20’s, this was all very exciting and a job I enjoyed immensely due to the pioneering tech and seniority of stakeholders I was dealing with. This passion was reflected in my performance, as I won several industry awards.

"Branching out"

Sales has always been a means to an end to set up my own company. Now in my late-twenties, I felt that my RFID expertise and connections made it the perfect time to brand out and set up on my own. I started “The RFID Company” under Global Frequency Ltd, in partnership with one of the World’s leading RFID experts who I had worked with extensively at DataScan, rolling out some of the World’s largest RFID projects at that time.

"Global frequency"

Our vision was to revolutionise the NHS with RFID. Using this pioneering technology, NHS hospitals could track their high value equipment and streamline processes with staff in real time across a whole hospital site. During my research, I learned that on average, a typical hospital loses £150,000 of equipment per year as well as having serious issues with tracing at-risk patients and infants. Alas, the NHS wasn’t yet ready, but we developed some fantastic solutions for NHS mental health and Special Care Baby Units as well as having success internationally at Singapore General Hospital, where we introduced a SARS patient tracking system as well as pioneering systems in Australia and France. We also worked with large corporate companies such as Everest Windows and Ocado and randomly became a market leader in marathon tracking systems internationally! My colleague eventually had to step back due to health issues and I sold the company to our software partner.

During this time, I also developed an events social media platform called Scenefly, borne out of my love of music events promotions. Our events company ran regular events across London including hosting the biggest boat party on the Thames for 3 years running! We launched the Scenefly site at 5 leading universities and attracted sponsorship from Casio and Relentless Energy Drinks. Alongside this, I set up a sales and marketing consultancy company and ended up being employed full time by one of my customers after deciding it was time to get back to what I enjoyed the most – being out on the road in front of customers.

"Falling for the NHS"

My time spent working within the NHS with the RFID Company and my consultancy work had given me great job satisfaction. I also loved working with nurses, I’ve always had the utmost respect for the work they do stemming from my grandmother and other prominent figures in my life being NHS nurses. They always continue to impress me with their hard work, empathy and often very humorous, infectious personalities. Around this time, I became particularly interested in infection control following 2 very serious hospital acquired infection incidents within the family.

I researched and approached the Endoscopy Infection Prevention market leader Cantel and subsequently started a role covering the Southwest of England and South Wales. Many of the Sisters and Nurses I worked with during this time would become genuine friends who made me feel part of the family. Of course, there were business discussions and selling of products, but we shared a mutual passion for patient safety and creating positive clinical outcomes. This respect peaked during the genuinely scary time that came with the COVID lockdowns which rightfully made them national heroes! The big difference between my previous corporate experience and the NHS was that things are more personal within healthcare and by working in partnership with medical professionals, I really felt like we were making a positive difference and supporting the amazing work that the NHS does every single day.

I very much enjoyed my time at Cantel, where a very consultative approach was required. I became a senior member of the team and became involved in developing nurse education programmes as part of a global training team. A recent acquisition then changed the patient focus of the business, which forced me to reconsider my future career path. After various interviews and job offers which didn’t suit my aspirations, DMC Healthcare came out of the blue. I was immediately impressed by how motivated and driven the management team were, as well as the impressive level of clinical expertise derived from over 55 years of working within NHS. This combined with the very topical and pragmatic benefits of utilising insourcing and outsourcing models to reduce NHS waiting lists, made DMC an undeniable progression, where I could make a real and tangible difference to patients’ lives.

"Being human"

I’ve always employed a consultative approach, aiming to solve a problem by understanding it from a customer’s perspective, more precisely, the near-limitless range of human perspective. However, one thing I’ve learned, is that no matter how unique we think we are, the vast majority need and want the same things in life, including to be listened to and understood. My belief is human altruism and empathy is a driving factor in my career and life. For me, the original and still arguably best self-help book, Dale Carnege’s ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ put it best: ‘Building genuine interest means walking a mile in your customers’ shoes’. This book has inspired me greatly throughout my career and I still often use its principles even 20 years after first reading it. Of course, sales training has evolved a lot since the 1930’s, something I’ve made sure I keep up to date with by attending courses annually and reading around the subject, as well as delivering my own.

"The next chapter"

Although I’m new to DMC and still on a steep learning curve, the supportiveness and professionalism of the team has surpassed my expectations. I’m invested in the culture which always aims to go the extra mile for our partners. The long-standing ethos that drives the company is impressive and inspirational, with a team that has the clinical experience and expertise to deliver ‘frictionless’ integrated services. This is reflected in the glowing praise we consistently receive from our customers.

With an excellent strategy and solid foundation in place, I’m excited to be a central part of building on the successful DMC model and scaling the business steadily to ensure we don’t need to compromise on quality. I believe in the vision from the board, and now my priority is making this vision a reality.


"My penny's worth"

A sales career certainly isn’t for everyone, one of my biggest observations over the years has been that the self-procleaimed ‘golden tongues’ with clichés about selling sand to Arabs, rarely last more than a few years before the almost daily rejection becomes too damaging to an ego. When delivering training, I go to great lengths to sell the message that selling is much more about listening that it is talking, where the key skill is understanding your customer and tailoring your questions accordingly. Or as my first ever sales manager at British Gas put it: ‘2 ears one mouth’! Whether you’re convincing a partner to go on a holiday, or selling yourself at a job interview, everyone is always selling in one way or another, so it’s an essential skill to constantly work on. More generally, try to do what you enjoy. If you don’t, then what’s the point? life’s too short to not enjoy your job, when you’ll spend half your life doing it!


"Managing a healthy work-life balance"

Nowadays my favourite activity is spending as much time as possible with my two favourite little people, Florence and Roman. I still try and stay in decent shape at the gym and have always been involved in one sport or another since childhood. I received my black-belt in Sankukai karate at 17 and since then have tried my hand at most other fighting disciplines including boxing, kick-boxing, MMA and have even had a Thai-boxing match in Thailand. Besides getting kicked in the face, I’m a keen astronomer and history fan, and so happy for the kids to have recently wanted to start metal detecting! Of course I also enjoy socialising with friends and family, but generally I’m running around  in circles after the children these days!


Interested in joining DMC Healthcare?

Get in touch:

Leave a reply