Journal of Excellence in Sales,1/2017

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Journal of Excellence in Sales Skill to sell essential for future engineers

How to boost sales competencies?

8 cases: students working with companies

Engineering student wins Best Seller Competition


Sales Excellence Week

Sales Competitions 2017

Sales Engineers



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Sini Jokiniemi

Editor’s Letter Liisa Kairisto-Mertanen

Selling skills – an essential part of future engineering competence Ella Karppi & Mikael Tómasson

The growth in south-west Finland, and what it means for engineers Timo Holopainen & Mikael Tómasson

What is AASE? Jobst Görne

Studying International Sales Engineering in Aalen, Germany Thomas Röhr

Sales engineering studies at ESTA Belfort, France Sini Jokiniemi

Infobox / Sales Competitions Aino Korhonen

Best Seller Competition 2017 Niko Saviluoto &Matias Louanto

Best Seller Competition as seen from the eyes of assistant coaches’ Mikael Tómasson

Women triumphed in Turku Sales Competition Mikael Tómasson

European Sales Engineering Team Competition Marion Murzin & Maha Ben Amor

The Role Play in the Sales Education: Case Study Analysis Sini Jokiniemi & Martti Komulainen

Sales Excellence Week – a networking event in Turku on November 16–18, 2016 Aurelia Higel, Walther van Buuren, Pavlína Vagnerová, Javier Jerez Cordero, Sophie Zschäbitz, Sabrina Oudghiri

Do the students really want to work in companies during studies? Tasos Galanakis

B2B international selling: the challenges that an export account manager has to confront in a global market Suvi Mäkinen

Broaden your horizon – learn a new language Kazuko Deno

Sales or Marketing? What are we in charge of? Journal of Excellence in Sales


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Aino Korhonen

The man behind Sales Excellence Week 2017 Tarja Åberg

European universities and businesses facing the future together Pentti Korpela

DIVA - Towards smart sales through creating value in business-to-business markets in digitalized world MILLI Project

MILLI - Boosting Sales Competencies Among Youth Ninni Mäkinen

How did a Bachelor student in Sales end up hosting the Voice of Sales? Aino Korhonen

Me as a salesperson?

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Sini Jokiniemi


Juho Kuusijärvi

Joni Jakonen, Juho Lehtovaara & Patrick Lindfors (SBH-yhtiöt)

Exploring the world of evening bingo events Sarlotta Rantala & Iida Laine

Case Hyvinvointipalvelut Sinulle

Tiina Katajainen & Tero Salonen (Turkispaja Mia Ristioja)

The importance of social media - Case Turkispaja

Nina Tuomisto, Sanna Jokinen & Sanni Silanto (Manu Events)


Janina Leppämäki, Janika Paukku & Henrik Ekman

Case Naantalin Kuntokeskus

My journey with OnnistuYrittäjänä portal Sini Jokiniemi

Infobox / Student cases as Business Cases

Tiina Katajainen, Sofia Lehto, Tero Tuominen & Nita Ruotsala

Customer journey – Case Skanssi

Lindström - Smart Container

CASE: own first house?

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Mona Kuusela, Sami Haapaniemi, Reetta Vastamäki & Antton Virtanen Karri Takila, Susanna Aaltonen & Jasmin Olli

Journal of Excellence in Sales


Business Cases Student projects

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Project ShopInOn

Project ShopInOn

Project Milli

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Dylan Van den Bremd

The art of non-selling


Editor’s letter Sini Jokiniemi Principal Lecturer (Sales) at TUAS, Sales Excellence Center The past spring term has been full of various sales-related activities and new initiatives. I would like to highlight two particular issues that have caught my attention. First, the winner of the national Best Seller Competition 2017 is a talented young woman, Alina Venermo (on the cover), studying engineering at our university of applied sciences. She embodies the potential that countries like Finland especially need: the ability to combine engineering and selling skills for the benefit of selling and buying companies. Second, senior students really know how to teach younger students. Third-year Bachelor students, Niko Saviluoto and Matias Louanto, acted as assistant coaches in my sales

training classes. They were so convincing that I asked them to both plan and execute some of the sales training classes. Niko and Matias also quite sovereignly managed the last minute rehearsals with the students who were qualified to participate in the Best Seller Competition. Students really show remarkable capabilities when given appropriate opportunities. Dear reader, we are delighted to offer you the first issue of this year packed with articles by authors from all over Europe. After the readers’ positive reactions to our first-ever issue of this journal, we feel privileged to carry on making a statement about professional selling.

Sales Researchers united in Sales Excellence Week in Turku. (From left to right) Kazuko Deno from Japan, Sini Jokiniemi from Finland, Anne De Geeter from Belgium and Petra Weiss from Austria. Photo: Aino Korhonen.


Journal of Excellence in Sales


Selling skills – an essential part of future engineering competence Liisa Kairisto-Mertanen Dean of the Faculty of Technology, Environment and Business at TUAS In Finland we have traditionally relied on engineering expertise. Our aim has been to conceive, design and implement excellent products which were technologically so advanced that they found the customers almost automatically. During these past times concentrating on selling was not considered important. However, times have changed and today everything happens on a global surface where information is openly and easily accessible for everybody. What comes to the products on the market today, they are very similar and it is many times extremely difficult or even impossible to select one above all others. When designing the products of today the focus has to be on interpreting the customer needs correctly. Customers are looking for added value which has to be superior to what the competitors are offering. Selling is about understanding what our customers want now and even understanding how their needs develop in the future. It is very much about being proactive, especially on b2b markets where deep understanding about the customers’ business is required. Salespeople are the best ones to interpret customer needs to product development. In complicated cases, where technical knowledge is necessary, this work must be done by people with a technical background. Sales engineers are needed. Selling is also about convincing other people of

Photo: Martti Komulainen

your ideas, it is about discussing and presenting. It is about helping customers to reach the best possible future by making the best possible decisions today. Succeeding especially in technical sales requires a good technical background but also excellent selling skills and the right personality. Selling is more about listening than speaking – and most of all it is about listening comprehension. In Finland we need sales engineers to sell our products in export markets. The need for sales engineers has become obvious also in other countries in Europe. Turku University of Applied Sciences belongs to the Academic Association for Sales Engineering (AASE). AASE has estimated that the yearly need for sales engineers at European level is about 10 000. At the moment the number of sales engineering graduates from the member universities of the association represents only 6% of the mentioned number. In Turku we are making it sure that our future engineers have the necessary selling competence. We are convinced that selling competence belongs to the core competences of any engineer. Every one of us is selling something. Getting a job and convincing the future employer is a selling situation that all our graduates meet. We believe that good selling skills guarantee a better future for every graduating student!

Journal of Excellence in Sales



The growth in south-west Finland, and what it means for engineers Ella Karppi & Mikael Tómasson Project Coordinators at TUAS Meyer Turku and Valmet Automotive are examples of companies that are currently doing very well in Southwest Finland – and thus doing a favor for the whole nation.

sales person with technical properties is the combination that is needed in this kind of industry and working environment. For many of those big industrial investors in the area, the know-how of local small and mediumMeyer Shipbuilding Company in Turku has a sized businesses was the main reason to great flow going on. The company has got two invest in Finland. That is why especially the big orders from Royal Caribbean Cruises. They small and medium-sized companies need are supposed to be ready 2020 and 2022. This talented sales engineers who can, in addition means that the next 3 to 5 years are all about to their engineering capabilities, sell to these doing things very fast. aforementioned big companies. Valmet Automotive has achieved great success in the Uusikaupunki area. This far the company has recruited car builders and announced a new recruiting campaign on 22nd March 2017. Again 1 000 new employees are needed in the car industry.

According to Tero Reunanen, Leader of the Degree Programme in Industrial Management and Engineering, it is very important that engineers have understanding of sales. He evaluates that approximately 1/3 of engineers will do sales at some point of their career. In addition, it is very common that B2B sales In addition, a global technology company, needs technical understanding as well. Every Rolls Royce, is going to found a research and year about 700 to 800 engineers graduate with development center in Turku, Finland, focusing sales studies in their degree diploma. Reunanen on marine technology. Above all, this is an emphasizes that in the engineering world there acknowledgement of world-class know-how is a clear need for sales skills because it is an to Finland. asset in business life. The need for talented sales engineers can be seen at Turku University Because of the rapidly growing heavy industry of Applied Sciences, from where some students in Southwest Finland, the demand for sales are recruited into companies before they have engineers is soaring. This leads to education even graduated, Reunanen concludes. being very important especially for the engineers who are doing business in the fields Sales engineers can combine two big of shipbuilding, machinery or car industry. A know-how areas: the business side and the


Journal of Excellence in Sales


engineering side. They focus on negotiation skills, selling techniques, practical ways to apply technical know-how, language skills and cultural knowledge. Unfortunately the business side of the education is often trumped down by the mass of technical teaching that is necessary to qualify in Finland. How can engineers then also get the business know-how? In steps AASE: the Academic Association of Sales Engineering (AASE), a European association focusing on education in technical sales. One of the association’s goals is to increase the knowledge level in the sales engineering field. What comes to sales engineers’ sales skills, AASE highlights some key factors. First of all, the needed sales skills are more fact-based than in other sales disciplines. In addition, deep product knowledge is an essential tool for a sales engineer. Moreover, understanding customers’ needs is one success factor in sales. It is not all about understanding the technical properties of the product. Sales engineers have to embrace business-related thinking, market sizes and strategies and also international technological trends.

All AASE members are working as teachers, responsible for pedagogic issues, or research persons in sales engineering programs and research groups at higher education institutions. All the different curricula intend to convey a comprehensive understanding of all necessary competences and skills expected by the future professionals, since the working environment of sales engineers is changing, with new requirements, e.g. due to the digitalization and the constant increase of complexity of the business. The collaboration of the different institutions within the AASE, all present in the field of education, allows improving on-going curricula by sharing the best practices, teaching methods, documents and knowledge, or internship experiences, and thereby increasing the attractiveness of the curricula. So in conclusion, Turku University of Applied Sciences is building up the education for sales engineers in Finland by embracing the newest European teaching and research know-how in order to strengthen the economic performance of South-West Finland.

Journal of Excellence in Sales



What is AASE? Timo Holopainen Leader (Business Development), Principal Lecturer (Sales) at TUAS Mikael Tómasson Project Coordinator at TUAS WHAT IS AASE? AASE is the Academic Association of Sales Engineers, which consists of 35 professors and lecturers from four European countries. The membership in AASE is a personal one, whereby the respective colleges and universities support the association. The AASE consists of a committee and three working groups: Research, Teaching, and Public Relations. Each working group has a chairperson, who is a member of the expanded AASE committee.

by sharing the best practices, teaching methods, documents and knowledge, or internship experiences, and thereby increasing the attractiveness of the curricula. Curricula and studies are strengthened by cooperation within collaborative research projects, cooperation with companies and by inquiries in order to obtain more detailed or new knowledge. Also new possibilities to work with us with our research as co-author, assessor or reviewer to our research papers is available.

The AASE meets annually at varying locations. In addition to organizational aspects, the meetings also deal with the results of the working groups, as well as specialist presentations from the research field of Sales Engineering.

WHAT IS THE OBJECTIVE OF AASE? 1. Establishment of the term “sales engineer“ as a trademark in public. 2. Enhancement of the education of “sales engineers“. 3. Closer cooperation of the involved universities and courses of studies in the fields of teaching, research and public relations to further develop the profession of “sales engineer”. 4. Strengthening the communal spirit.

WHY JOIN AASE? All AASE members work as teachers, with pedagogic responsibilities, or research persons in sales engineering programs and research groups at higher education institutions. All the different curricula intend to convey a comprehensive understanding of all necessary competences and skills expected of the future professionals, since the working environment of sales engineers is changing, with new requirements, e.g. due to digitalization and the constant increase of complexity of the business.

HOW TO JOIN AASE? All universities that have both sales and engineering studies in their curricula can join AASE. To join AASE, please contact us:

The collaboration of the different institutions within the AASE, all present in the field of education, allows improving on-going curricula


Journal of Excellence in Sales


Studying International Sales Engineering in Aalen, Germany Jobst Görne Professor, Doctor of Science, Hochschule Aalen 1) History of the Sales Engineering Program Aalen University started the sales engineering program first as a diploma, then as a bachelor course in 1998. Since then almost 1 000 students have been educated to become sales engineers and most of them have had no problem finding a responsible job in industry.

market, create their virtual start-up company and establish the technical product design, the market study, sales and financial plan and a risk analysis. So to say they have to combine all what they have learned into the realization of their project. The results are presented in the English language.

In 2012 the master’s program “Leadership in Industrial Sales and Technology” was established and has been operating since.

The overall goal of the bachelor program is to enable the students to become performant sales engineers in various industry applications.

2) Structure of the Programs The bachelor program consists of 6 semesters of academic teaching and one internship semester, which is compulsory to be completed abroad. This semester improves the personality building process of the students a lot.

The master program lasts three semesters, one being reserved for the master’s thesis. Teaching is based on three pillars: leadership, advanced sales and marketing principles and technology. Together with some elective courses an attractive program is offered. Students come from all over the southern part of Germany. Some add one semester abroad with one of the partner universities of Aalen to widen their cultural experience.

Basic teaching is composed out of about 60% technical subjects, like mechanics, machine elements and automatization. The other 40% are split into economics and communication. A second foreign language is taught, most students choose Spanish. Aalen has established a sales lab, where students learn to do the first steps in sales negotiations with various approaches. At the end of the program, students work together in a global sales project. They have to find a product which is somehow new to the

The overall goal of the master is to qualify the students to later become sales managers, where they need the different leadership qualifications. 3) Research at the Sales Group at Aalen University There is a lot of research going on in the sales group. On one hand there are strong links to

Journal of Excellence in Sales



international scientific sales organizations like the GSSI, AASE or AFM, where the results are presented. Research focuses on the following topics:

one is currently working on a purchasing thesis. Aalen organizes national and international congresses to spread the latest findings in industry.

• Investigating sales negotiations and sales presentations, with eye tracking systems and video recording and analyzing

Being surrounded by a large number of worldwide known companies, there is easy access to industry and a fruitful exchange of experience and ideas takes constantly place.

• Modelling sales processes in the automotive and machine building industry • Mechanisms of forecasting in the automotive and machine building industry Four students of the sales course have done their PhD degree since the beginning in sales,

Simply Smart in Selling Technology: Sales Engineering studies at ESTA Belfort, France Thomas Röhr Professor at ESTA School of Business & Technology, About ESTA ESTA School of Business & Engineering was created over 30 years ago by Belfort industrialists with the aim of training Sales Engineers skilled in selling technical products on international markets. ESTA is located in the center of Belfort, a pleasant medium-sized town in eastern France, in a natural gap between the Vosges and the Jura


mountain ranges. Belfort totals approximately 50,000 inhabitants; it is characterized by its historical city center with rich architecture, the Lion of Bartholdi commemorating the victorious resistance of its citizens against the Prussians in 1870 and the Vauban fortifications. Belfort is also a venue for many important cultural events such as the Eurockeennes or the International University Music Festival,

Journal of Excellence in Sales


as well as housing many companies, some of which are global actors such as General Electric or Alstom. With a total of 280 students, ESTA is a small and family-type school where teachers can guide students, and where everybody knows each other. The classic sales engineering studies Students can enter ESTA directly after their A-level exams for five years or after a two-year technical education in another institution for another three years. ESTA is the only school in France offering such a Sales Engineering cursus over five years, with technical and commercial aspects integrated from year one. Right from the start, the cursus has been tailored to the expectations of the school’s founders. It is characterized by a multidisciplinary program where students switch daily between technological, sales, B2B marketing, management and other subjects.

At ESTA Belfort, no technical specialization is applied, but students get basic knowledge of a broad band of technical subjects such

as mechanics, electricity, automatization, materials, computer sciences, IT networks and others. The education is enriched by nearly two years of professional experience through five internships in companies: production, sales and negotiation, international, marketing and final sales engineering. As classes are small, there are no options to choose, and so all students follow the same courses. Technical subjects are dealt with by teachers from the nearby Technical University Belfort MontbĂŠliard UTBM, and practical exercises are also carried out in their laboratories. The option chemistry/biotechnology Since 2015, students with a two-year education in chemistry or biotechnology can complete their sales engineering studies with a specifically designed program: About 450 hours of technical subjects are replaced during their three years

at ESTA by specific lectures. All other subjects are mutualized with the classic sales engineers. This option is offered in partnership with one of the oldest and most famous French universities

Journal of Excellence in Sales



in chemistry, the Ecole Nationale SupÊrieure a double degree program by studying one year de ChÊmie de Mulhouse (Enscmu). About 20 at Turku University of Applied Sciences, and students chose this option in the last two years. getting both the ESTA diploma and the TUAS bachelor degree. These students total at least Is ESTA doing research? one year and a half of international experience For long years, no research was conducted at during their studies. ESTA, but in 2013 the ESTA Lab was created. This effort pays off: Nearly 18.1% of ESTA Today research is done in both of the specific graduates are working outside France! areas of Sales Engineering education: business studies and technology. In 2016, the ESTA team Where are ESTA graduates working? published four publications in international The sales engineering education at ESTA journals and presented at 10 national and meets the requirements of both French and international conferences. international companies. More than 900 graduates have become the school’s ambassadors Studies designed for internationality by applying their skills to the benefit of their Students benefit during their whole stay of respective companies. ESTA graduates are much intensive language training in small groups of sought after in industry, and more than 90% of 10 persons. English and German or Spanish are graduates have a job contract by the time they mandatory for all students. Language training obtain their diploma. is business oriented to prepare students for a ESTA graduates are working in all kind of industrial future job in an international company or to sell sectors such as automobile, aeronautics, machine on international markets. tools, construction industry, computer sciences, The language training is completed with chemistry, pharmaceutics and others. And they six-month internship abroad, which is also are occupying various functions, whereas sales mandatory. This internship allows students to and sales manager are the predominant jobs develop their language skills and to learn how with about 38% of the graduates. to survive in a foreign culture. In addition, five-year students have the Theses wide ranges of industrial sectors as well opportunity to study one of their fourth-year as professional functions proof that the ESTA semesters in one of the partner universities study program fits industrial needs well. in Germany, Romania, Switzerland and Finland (Turku University of Applied Sciences). Since this More information => year, students have also the possibility to follow


Journal of Excellence in Sales


Infobox Sales Competitions for students 2017

Selling is about interaction skills and requires of the salesperson the willingness to step out of one’s comfort zone. But when you survive in the jungle, you feel like a winner. This is what sales competitions are all about: simulating real-life business discussions and putting one’s learning to the test. This section of the journal covers sales competitions for students organized all over Europe. From the national Best Seller Competition and our very own Turku Sales Competition to European Sales Engineering Team Competition. The section concludes with a scholarly article covering the use of role plays in sales education.

The finalists (from left to right) Francois Ossou, Alina Venermo, Sofia Lehto and Marika Selander. Photo: Mikael Tómasson.

Best Seller Competition 2017 Aino Korhonen Project Coordinator at TUAS The annual and national Best Seller Competition offers a platform for Bachelor students to show their selling competences in simulated 20-minute business-to-business sales discussion role plays. The aim of the competition is to boost the appreciation of sales work and to enhance the level of selling competences. The eighth Best Seller Competition was arranged at Turku University of Applied Sciences (TUAS) on April 27th, 2017. In the competition, 24 students go through qualifying rounds and the four best candidates are selected for the final. Each competitor has participated in a sales training course at his/her home university as well as received information of the company and the solution to be sold in the competition. During the competition judges give points to the competitors based

on a judgement sheet of the following competence areas: The beginning (establishing a good atmosphere for the discussion); need analysis; presenting the solution; tackling the customer’s questions; closing the discussion; communication and interaction skills; as well as the buyer’s own judgement (would I like to continue discussions with this salesperson). The festive evening gala is the highpoint of the competition day. TUAS and Haaga-Helia from Helsinki take turns in organizing the competition. This year we welcomed competitors also from Tampere and Jyväskylä. South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences and Laurea from Helsinki are also interested in participating in the competition in the future. Companies play a major role in the competition

Journal of Excellence in Sales



as well. Company representatives act as buyers and judges in the competition’s qualifying and final rounds. In addition, the main sponsor of the competition traditionally offers a real solution to be sold in the competition. This year we were proud to have Canon as our main sponsor and their solution Canon Easy in the competition. The competition day has

become a good networking event during which sales professionals can meet with colleagues, customers and of course recruit future talents. Best Seller Competition 2017 highlighted how Bachelor students with different major subjects can shine in the competition. The winner and Best Seller 2017 is Alina Venermo (photo also in the cover of the journal) from TUAS, an engineering student who is also studying sales. Bachelor students in sales Marika Selander and Francois Ossou from Haaga-Helia finished second and third. The fourth place in the final went to Sofia Lehto who specializes in sales management studies at TUAS. Miikka Nurmi, a Bachelor student focusing on financial studies at TUAS, received a recognition of excellence. Right after the official results were announced, Best Seller 2017 Alina Venermo felt happy but surreal as the level of the competitors


had been so high. However, especially the high level of the competition had catapulted Alina forward and into doing her best. Even though students compete against each other, the overall atmosphere during the competition had been very co-operative and supportive – everyone had supported one another and participated with a good attitude. After her performance Alina had received good feedback from the judges on running the discussion in a logical manner. In addition, she was credited for not letting the discussion to lose its focus despite of the phone call the buyer received or other distractions. Alina had also listened to the customer very intensively, summarized his needs and maintained a relaxed attitude while discussing. Alina wants to advise future competitors not to stress too much about the competition. It is also of no use to memorize one’s speech word by word as the discussion does not go as you have planned beforehand. One should rather practice to master a strong and clear structure for the discussion. So strong that you know it even in your sleep. One should also know enough about the solution to be sold. It is also valuable to practice what to say when you do not know the answer to the customer’s question. The main advantages of the competition to Alina are the contact to business world and concrete job offers. The competition in itself is a huge learning experience as students are able to concretely test their skills in businessto-business sales meetings. This experience also strengthened Alina’s future plans: I would like to do something that involves interacting with people and using my engineering background. Possibly sales, because that is something I truly enjoy doing. You get to challenge and develop yourself when selling. It tests your skills in a specific way in comparison to more routine-like work. That is a challenge I would like to have, Alina thinks.

Journal of Excellence in Sales


Best Seller Competition as seen through the eyes of assistant coaches Matias Louanto & Niko Saviluoto Sales Bachelor Students As we are writing this article, the traditional Best Seller Competition 2017 is coming up in a couple of days’ time. The competition offers Bachelor-level students a chance to showcase their selling skills. Before the event it’s good to go back in time and explain how we assistant coaches ended up in these roles. At the beginning of spring semester Sini Jokiniemi – the responsible teacher for sales training – contacted us asking if we were interested in coaching the students attending the sales training classes. Last year both of us had made it through TUAS’ pre-selection rounds and made our ways to the Best Seller Competition, held in Helsinki 2016. Based on our success in the competition we believed that we would have a lot to give to these younger students. We said yes to the challenge to be assistant coaches. Our exchange semesters ended in the beginning of February and we both came back to Finland from Belgium. Soon after we sat down with Sini and started planning the course. Differing from the original plans we were offered a lot more responsibility of the coaching than we had imagined. We were allowed to more or less plan the classes – the contents and timetables. In addition to planning, we also executed our own plans. The younger students received us calmly – as expected – and it brought back some memories from our own initial experiences of the class.

Is this training course of any use? What do I gain from these useless role plays? However, during the upcoming weeks these questions faded into the background. Together with the students we moved forward and started to ponder e.g. the elements of a good salesperson and how one could formulate various questions and phrases in a manner that suits one’s own language and feels natural. After we really picked up steam, certain types of students started to stand out from the rest. These students had natural inclination, a willingness to learn and motivation to succeed in the competition itself. These students formed the backbone of the course and often guided their own smaller teams with various assignments during the classes. The purpose of the assignments was to focus on the big picture, e.g. the company and customer profiles as well as Canon and the represented solution. After these exercises we started dealing with the structure of the sales discussion with multiple role plays. From the viewpoint of a coach it is superb to notice how week by week the students took steps forward – some took bigger steps and others smaller – but nevertheless everyone was moving to the right direction. When the students more or less handled the overall picture of the sales discussion, we arranged preselections. Through the preselection round we were able to select the

Journal of Excellence in Sales



five students and one deputy to represent our higher education institution’s sales Bachelor students in this year’s competition. This arrangement enabled us to concentrate on a small group of students and to offer more personal and accurate coaching and feedback. With these students we started to polish details and strengthen their routines. We also started

Assistant Coaches Matias Louanto and Niko Saviluoto from TUAS. Photo: Aino Korhonen.


to prep ourselves for any unexpected deviations during the sales meeting. Now that we only have a couple of days left before the competition, we can state that preparations have proceeded according to plan and that almost all advice has been given. Expectations and goals are of course high but both us coaches and the competitors feel confident. Only a few small coaching sessions left to go and then it is time for the longawaited competition day. It has been an extremely developing and rewarding experience to act as a coach. It is very nice to experience the spirit of the competition day once again this year. In our opinion that specific day has been one of the best during our studies and also very educational for the competitors. Whatever happens in the competition, the past weeks have taught both us and the competing students new things about selling. New things wait ahead after this good experience.

Journal of Excellence in Sales


Women triumphed in Turku Sales Competition Mikael Tómasson Project Coordinator at TUAS The biannual Turku Sales Competition, which was held on the 11th of April, saw four women competitors reach the finals. This was the first time that all the finalists were women in the history of various Finnish sales competitions, and also the first time when all the finalists were also sales engineers. From the four finalists Ella Mård won the coveted competition, even though choosing the winner from the three other contestants – Riikka Mäkäräinen, Stina Puolakanaho and Mandi Virtanen – was a demanding task for the judges of the competition. “Each of the competitors brought something different to the negotiation table, so the choice was hard to make”, recalls Sini Jokiniemi, Principal Lecturer in Sales from Turku University of Applied Sciences. Turku Sales Competition is held twice a year in the Sepänkatu campus of Turku University of

Applied Sciences. The competition has always had a real-world company as a partner, which provides a product or service to be sold at the competition. This spring the company partner was Canon. Canon provided their 3D printer to be sold to their real customer Swegon, which in turn provided their actual buyer to be the main buyer for the competitors in the finals. “This was the first time that both the product to be sold and the buyer were both real-world companies” accentuates Mikael Tómasson, the Competition Director. “The students expressed clearly that the reality made the case feel real, and thus made them train harder for the competition”, Tómasson adds. Turku Sales Competition is part of the Sales Semester education module, which is led by Principal Lecturer Timo Holopainen. The next Turku Sales Competition will be held alongside Sales Week in November, held at Turku University of Applied Sciences.

The four happy finalists in the evening gala: (from left to right) Mandi Virtanen, Stina Puolakanaho, Riikka Mäkäräinen and Ella Mård. Photo: Mikael Tómasson

Journal of Excellence in Sales



European Sales Engineering Team Competition How to train engineers to sell Mikael Tómasson Project Coordinator at TUAS


Three European higher education institutions were aiming to improve the sales training of their engineering students. To achieve this they established in March 2017 the European Sales Engineering Team Competition, which aims to enhance the sales competences of engineers in Europe. The three higher education institutions, Turku University of Applied Sciences (Finland), ESTA School of Business and Technology in

improve their original bid to accustom the new information they gathered and in the last Skype negotiation, the team leaders will negotiate with the customer online and close their deal. Almost all of the competition is held online, and only the physical meeting is arranged by the participating universities. “The competition concept is still evolving to meet all the expectations set upon it, but we have made great

Belfort (France), and Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences (Germany), each sent students who formed international competing teams. The competition has four phases: email bid, physical meeting, improved bid, and Skype negotiation. In the first phase, the teams get the customer case and have to create the offer for the customer and calculate the price for their service. In the second phase, the team leaders will meet with a member of the customer company to sell their product and identify the needs of the customer. Thirdly, the teams will

progress this spring” reveals Timo Holopainen, Competition Director and coach to the Finnish team members. Thomas Röhr, the coach to the French team members; Marion Murzin, the coach to the German team members; and Holopainen have all noticed the same thing: The students are grateful for the opportunity to work in international teams. The competition was this year led by Turku University of Applied Sciences, by Competition Chairman Mikael Tómasson, and it is organized with AASE – Academic Association of Sales Engineers.

Journal of Excellence in Sales


Role Play in Sales Education Case Study Analysis Marion Murzin Professor of Marketing, Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences Maha Ben Amor Ph.D. in Marketing, Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences Abstract Simulation and role play are teaching methods that allow students to speak in class in scenarios related to the course content and to practice the newly acquired knowledge and skills. This is to recreate a classroom environment similar to the environment in which they will work at the end of their training. These teaching methods are important ways to make the students more active and motivated, focusing on the development of the professional competence, on the meaning given to action. Through these activities, the students are called to gradually develop the tools that organize their knowledge and improve their skills.

understanding of the methodological aspects of the role play facilitates the goal-oriented commitment to education, training and research. In this article we describe the way in which role play is given in a specific simulative situation. We describe a case study from the area of skills education, which shows that the introduction of role-playing elements may increase the perceived realism. The students should be able, at the end of the semester, master and use the techniques of a sales talk in the B2B area.

Theoretical background The concept of the course: is to provide the students a comprehensive theoretical and practical background. The theoretical aspects The objective of the case study is to show are related to the basics of psychological through a theoretical background and a theories. Furthermore, the characteristics of practical case the importance of role play the sales phases are theoretically discussed. as an innovative teaching method in the The students have to work in small groups on development of sales force students´ attitudes many case studies, such as potential customer and skills. objections and the possible seller answers. The different sales phases are performed in a Key Words: sales education, sales talk, workshops role-playing simulation. In this purpose, the simulation, role play, questioning techniques, students are looking to start the semester objections, communication,sequence analysis. with a technical product choice that can be sold 4 in the B2B area. In fact, they have to Introduction develop the product´s features, advantages Role play is an important component in and benefits and create competition studies. many forms of simulation practices. A solid Journal of Excellence in Sales



It should be noted at this point that the role plays are complicated by the buyer with many instructions. In addition to the practical implementation of role-playing simulations, the students are given the opportunity to accompany a sales representative for technical products as an experience in the job of a salesperson in reality. They also need to simulate five purchases for requiring explanation in shops to find out how the seller performs the various phases of the sales conversation. The interest is to evaluate if the seller makes an effective needs analysis and if the “customer” (our students) does not feel well advised at the end of the conversation. In addition, the students have to operate in a company for two four hours phoneprospecting in order to become familiar with the telephone calling and to be able to answer to the objections on the phone (killer phrases) appropriately.

analysis, supply, testing and final and postfinal phase. The following figure gives an overview of the practical case.

- Preparation: The following steps must be taken: analysis of the customer database, Finally, this concept will provide an effective collect of information, definition of objectives, education as a salesman for technical products. and contact by telephone, compilation of documents and anticipating objections. The role play: The role play behavior is reflected and practiced in different social situations. - The contact phase: Contacting the customer Hoffmann, B. and Langefeld, U., (1998), defined has two forms: phone contact and customer the role play as “a kind of preparation for the visit. To conduct a successful first sales contact, reality in “acting-as-if ” or an attempt to put the salesperson has to follow this guide: Having themselves in the role of others”. interest in the interlocutor, willingness to engage in other views, trying to understand the The role play has different intentions: customer and demonstrating positive attitude -Adaptation to realities and behavior patterns. towards conversation. -Breaking conventional role behavior. - The analysis phase: At this stage, it is essential A characteristic feature of the role play is the to note that a successful seller must be able to fact that insights into personal behaviors and listen in order to identify the real needs of the their changes are in the foreground. Accordingly, customer so that he can make an adequate offer. role playing can be used in different phases. The salesperson has to be a solution-oriented and not product-oriented.Besides, he has to The sales talk: The sales talk can be divided master the different questioning techniques, into different phases. Each phase should be both in form (open and closed questions) and fully completed before the new begins. The in content (information questions, rhetorical phases are divided into: preparation, contact, questions and result questions).


Journal of Excellence in Sales


- The supply phase: The analysis phase must be completed. The seller needs to know what expects the customer from the product. Each statement should be supported with arguments and benefits and must be explained (such as larger memory, long lasting battery, powerful processor…). At last, the benefits offered by the product(s) must meet the need(s). - The testing phase: At this stage the objections are taking place. A good seller must anticipate the objections as a prevention of the consequences. As preventive, and not defensive, solutions to the customer objections, the salesperson has to treat every objection immediately and never contradict. Then he has, also, to convert the objections in matters. They will be easier to treat. As an alternative method, the plus-minus method is recommended. In fact, it is admitting the obvious disadvantages and moving on to the next positive point.

Practical case Who? This class experience is based on a simulation concept. The purpose is the integration of the participants, on concrete sales situations through individualization. Here, students get the opportunity to develop role-plays for training purposes on B2B sales talk. The participants are the High School of Karlsruhe´s students from the 7th semester in a sales technics´ course. How? Workshops simulated with an industry office based on the followed topics: exchanges, formulation exercises, role-plays, practical exercises with video equipment (computer equipped with a camera and a microphone).

In order to give real effect to the conversation, every buyer (student) must follow many instructions in his interview with the seller student, such as price objection, incorrect features; product is not as expected, etc. Moreover, to avoid arbitrariness, some - Final and post-final phase: When finishing a evaluation criteria should be established sales talk with the buyer, the seller must make before the start of the activity and after the specific arrangements, such as aproduct test, role play, for example we asked the buyer (our internal reconciliations, group presentation, student) : “ if that were the case you would training, sales conclusion. It is important that buy?”, and the seller (our student) and the the seller recognizes the completing signals rest of the class:”do you have any comment?”. and dominates the contracting techniques. In a The assessment, the self-assessment and the last step, the seller has to reaffirm the positive clarification of criteria related to objectives buying decision by completing together the will also help the teacher in his assessment purchase agreement and recommending the and the return on the activity. Some evaluation methods may allow us to situate the student services that form the pack product. in their learning. We could not finish our theoretical background without noting that the customer is already How Long? This approach of teaching in sensitive to information. All information must sales education is shared by 14 groups of 2 therefore be prepared so that the customer can students during 4 months. Each role play takes understand them. It is exactly here where the approximately 5 minutes. verbal and no verbal communication plays a Sequence Analysis: In order to ensure an fairly important role. effective case analysis, we have selected the

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video that we consider the most illustrative and the most significant. - Customer complains about the late coming of the seller. - Seller answers that the traffic was the reason. - Customer complains that the seller has not called ahead.

comes and not another person (3´22´´). - The seller summarizes the requirements of the clients. - The customer says that otherwise the offer would suit him. - The seller summarizes the possibilities and announces a new offer, with about the same price. The seller wants to sit. Summary: The customer was very upset. - Customer offers him a place. Nevertheless, the seller remains calm and - Customer: the offer does not suit me. The last discusses the reasoning to convince the customer. salesperson offered a wrong demonstration He remains at the table, even if his chair is moved example color (0´58´´). away. It lacks the seller to make eye contact with the customer. Despite the intense criticism of the - Seller asks what would not be exactly right. customer, the seller manages to offer a new offer according the same attributes and the same price. The Customer shows dissatisfaction. The Seller The criticism of the high price is now exceeded. remains calm, sitting at the table, but only on the The seller, however, failed to agree on another front seat (escape position). The pattern is in the appointment with the client to discuss the offer center of the table, prompting the customer to proposed. Overall, the chances are good that the customer buys. (It has also been confirmed by approach again the customer so). - Customer wants a powerful phone camera. The price is always away from his wishes Conclusion The Role play is an important element of all (1´18´´). - The seller takes notes and answers to the simulation-based procedures. An improved customer objections. He explains the price understanding for methodological aspects differences and shows off the different services. facilitates its goal-oriented use in education and training. In the present paper we have The seller retains the same sitting position. described how different a specific form of role play is used in different a sale simulated - Customer replies that he would not assume laboratory. We have discussed many skills that the Smartphone would go immediately demonstrating how the introduction of rolebroken. playing may increase the perceived realism. - The seller: It depends to the maintenance. - The customer explains again that he needs References Hoffmann, B., Langefeld, U. (1998), “Methoden-Mix a reliable cell phone. Unterrichtliche Methoden zur Vermittlung beruflicher

The seller looks - when he speaks - too often Handlungskompetenz in kaufmännischen Fächern”, down and holds no eye contact with customers. Darmstadt, p. 117. Murzin, M. (2017), Sales Engineering Course, International The customer moves. Management, Faculty of Management Science &

- The customer adds again that he would like that in the future the current salesperson


Engineering, Hochschule Karlsruhe, Germany.

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Sales Excellence Week a networking event in Turku on November 16–18, 2016 Sini Jokiniemi Principal Lecturer (Sales) at TUAS Martti Komulainen Project Manager at TUAS

The Sales Excellence Week event brought together sales students and business professionals as well as companies and associations to network and reflect together how selling is changing and what kind of competences selling will require in the future. The event offered e.g. Jail Dating in the former prison Kakola, presentations and discussions on doing and learning selling.

in their own countries by creating country profiles and offering detailed information on their cultures, the economic situation, biggest companies, and ways to communicate in faceto-face situations – all crucial information for a successful salesperson.

Later in the afternoon, altogether 40 students formed smaller groups and started their “Jail Walk” from TUAS, with a small ferry across Aura Networking Day: Wednesday Nov 16th The week started with students’ Learning café River and up the hill to the exotic surroundings activities and offered a natural networking of the former prison Kakola. The former prison platform for visiting students from Belgium, – under massive re-construction – offered the Austria and Germany as well as for Turku facilities for networking and sharing ideas University of Applied Sciences (TUAS) and experiences for companies, associations students and exchange students. During and other actors who aimed to enhance their the Learning Café activities, international business activities in the German-speaking students taught other students how to sell market area.

Networking Day: Wednesday Nov 16th

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Networking Day: Wednesday Nov 16th. Later in the afternoon.

The key note speaker of the event “Doing Successful Business in German-speaking Countries”, Professor Ludger SchneiderStörmann, represented the Academic Association of Sales Engineering (AASE). Together with the German-Finnish Chamber of Commerce’s Communication Director Suvi Mäkinen he oriented the audience to the current and future issues surrounding the focus market area. Networking took place in the spirit of “Jail Dating”, meaning that the participating organizations had the opportunity to book a cell as their fair stand. TUAS considers Germany as a significant market area for Southwest Finland and this is reflected e.g. in the recent cooperation in education with German universities. For TUAS’ engineering students,

the co-operation opens up the opportunity to study also in Germany. Learning Day: Thursday Nov 17th The main theme for forenoon activities was Learning with Professors. Visiting students and TUAS students had the opportunity to listen to various presentations and to mingle. Senior lecturer Anne De Geeter from HoGent, Belgium started with the topic Purchasingdriven sales that underlined how especially professional purchasers guide the selling process in many ways. Lecturer Petra Weiss from Wiener-Neustadt, Austria, continued with introducing various selling styles and revealing the mysteries of sales psychology. Perhaps the most insightful presentation was offered by PhD student Kazuko Deno.

Learning Day: Thursday Nov 17th


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She gave a thought-provoking lesson of how selling is done in Japanese insurance business and explained what kind of roles obligation, emotional commitment and gifts play in closeknit customer relationships.

syndicated, non-financial performance research and its public ratings easily gain media attention. After the presentation the audience thoroughly understood the importance of the customer’s voice and customer satisfaction. Head of New Business Development, Julius Later in the afternoon when attending a career Manni from IF P&C Insurance, left no one clinic offered by associations, students learned cold with his enthusiastic presentation of tips how to enhance their careers and develop the possibilities of digitalization in insurance their sales and communications skills. Students business. were also free to book speed-coaching sessions Consultant Director Juha Alanen from Mercuri and discuss any issues related to their studies International gave a 360-degree perspective and working life. on selling by introducing the best parts of their recent global survey Sales Excellence Sales Excellence Day: Friday Nov 18th 2016. Sales students also took the stage: The last day of the week – Sales Excellence Day with their Student Challenge presentation – offered insights on how to succeed in selling they challenged companies to make a bigger in various lines of business. The presenters were effort in speeding up co-operation initiatives CEOs and partners who address the changes between students and corporations. Senior in selling, its current stage and forecasts for Business Coach Tiina Harmaja from Business the future. After Dean Liisa Kairisto-Mertanen’s Coaching Center focused on leadership. She opening words it was time to present the first- claimed that if a sales leader acted as a coach ever issue of Journal of Excellence in Sales. in relation to his/her team members, the leader would be able to boost excellence in sales. We were delighted to have Sales Director, Have you ever thought that “Your ability to Dr. Tasos Galanakis to offer the key note solve the problems could passivate others”? presentation. Dr. Galanakis represented The last presentation of the Sales Excellence LALIZAS Hellas, the European market leader Day took us to the moon and back – or to the manufacturing marine equipment. His sea and back to the shore. Vice President Karno presentation offered us macro-level viewpoints Tenovuo from Rolls-Royce Ship Intelligence and the fundamentals for being a successful presented the need for sales engineering sales professional now and in the future. The skills together with the ability to be radically CEO of EPSI Rating Finland, Tarja Ilvonen, innovative and brave. We watched a video of entered the stage next. EPSI Rating offers autonomous, unmanned ships and a land-

Sales Excellence Day: Friday Nov 18th

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based shore control center that do nothing less than shape the future of shipping (available on YouTube: watch?v=vg0A9Ve7SxE). At the time of the presentation we were not yet aware of the

news we received early 2017: Rolls-Royce decided to build a research and development center here in Turku, Finland, in order to make remote and autonomous shipping a reality. What a way to finish a Sales Excellence Week!

We want you! Do the students really want to work in companies during studies? Aurelia Higel, Walther van Buuren, Pavlína Vagnerová, Javier Jerez Cordero, Sophie Zschäbitz, Sabrina Oudghiri Somehow starter functions are strange, they usually ask for working experience… When you just graduated this is kind of difficult. How do you get sufficient experience without having a full-time job? A recent survey showed that students want to work more frequently on project for companies during their studies or as interns. Thanks to over 100 students we were able to find the best ways to increase the cooperation between students and companies and thus their working experience.

variety of students. The easiest and usually most effective way that came to our mind was an online survey. After creating such a questionnaire, it was quite easy to spread it thanks to different social networks. A few weeks later, we had received more than 100 responses, which was a good amount to work with. We were really excited that many people were interested in our research. The respondents were from over 20 different countries (the majority was Finnish) and most of them were studying Business and Engineering. The major “Yes! We can work on a project for the Sales part of the interviewed students was between Week!” This was our thought when we had 21 and 25 years old. applied for the next group project that we Analyzing the results, we realized that some had to do in our sales course and the teachers of them were actually obvious. The majority of picked us. Name of the project: Challenge respondents had already worked in a company companies in how to work better together as a trainee or on certain projects. The channel with students - but since there were only for finding positions was mostly the internet six of us, it was obvious that we could not or school. Furthermore, the results showed base a presentation to the companies on this that it was harder to find a position for people topic only on our own opinion. Therefore, we studying Business and Communication than brainstormed about what would be the best for students of Engineering and Health care. process to get reliable feedbacks from a broad Almost all of the respondents would like to work


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more cooperatively with companies. Among all the cooperation suggestions submitted in the survey, the most attractive ones for students were project work, open interviews, company tutors and expert project meeting. In order to implement those ideas and make companies consider them, it was next up to us to give a presentation on this in the Sales Excellence Week at TUAS. D day After the welcoming speech of Sini, the first presentation was given by the sales director of the Greek company LALIZAS Hellas, Dr. Tasos Galanakis. According to his presentation we are currently in an Information era, where knowledge is the key to success, which was pretty interesting, because our presentation was completely based on the raw data from the survey. In the next presentation, given by CEO Tarja Ilvonen from EPSI Rating Finland, we found out that the way to success consists of a triangle, which you can see in picture 1. According to this model, a successful company has three main objectives. First of all, there are the customers, who need to be kept satisfied all the time. Additionally, it is important to have a good reputation in the society. And last but certainly not least, a company needs engaged employees. We realized that enthusiastic students are more motivated and engaged to fulfil the given tasks and satisfy the customer’s needs, which is what every successful organisation needs. The next presentation related to our challenge task was about coaching, held by Tiina Harmaja from the Business Coaching Center Oy. Thanks to Innopeda training we received this assignment of challenging companies. Here we had to use our newly acquired self coaching skills. We also had to use problem solving skills as well as leadership skills as a tool to successfully finish our project.

Feelings on stage How did we feel when giving this presentation in front of the companies and a lot of curious students? At the beginning we felt a little nervous, because it was the first time that we gave a presentation in front of such a large audience. We wanted to take this opportunity to improve our presentation skills and use of visual media in front of large groups. After a few minutes we got used to it and we could easily talk, because we knew a lot about the topic, thanks to our research. Finally, we could successfully complete our project by challenging the companies to cooperate more with students. Proving them the openness and demand of the interviewed students for working with them felt really good, because like this it was easier for us to motivate the company representatives. Aftermath When the presentation was finished, Pavlina and Walther distributed a survey among the present company representatives. With the help of this survey, we got a feedback about how the representatives thought of the presentation and of our challenge in general. All the responses were pretty positive so that in the end, we could say that the result of our work was satisfying. At last, there’s only one thing left to say: Many thanks to all the respondents who took the time to answer our questionnaire, as well as to the audience and especially the company representatives in the Sales Week - and who knows, maybe we’ll see each other again, working together on a company project? We’re looking forward to it!

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B2B international selling: the challenges that an export account manager has to confront in a global market Dr. Tasos Galanakis Sales Director, Lalizas Group B2B international selling: the challenges that an export account manager has to confront in a global market. In today’s international management agenda, one of the major issues to be addressed is how exporting firms can achieve higher outcome levels. The merging of the markets due to the effects of globalization over the last decades, the increasing intensity of global competition, and the complexity of today’s market structure are some of the main obstacles that exporting firms are facing in attaining higher outcome levels. Similarly, nowadays companies gradually seek to approach international markets and expand their exporting activities by reforming their existing sales structures to compete in a more efficient way in the international market arena (Panagopoulos et al., 2011). Within this framework, various factors lead companies to seek competent export account managers that can adapt their sales role within a day-to-day changing environment. The acceleration of technical evolution, the market globalization, the social mediation, the geographical and economic instability, the acceleration of the business environment and sales processes are the main determinants that force export account managers to ‘do it wrong quickly’ (Moran, 2007). There is no time for the export account managers to spend in planning sales strategies but to evolve their sales performance in the actual sales field. Export account managers confront tremendous challenges in their work related to marketing


trends, the B2B sales process evolution, information technology, market information and sales education. With regard to marketing, there are tremendous marketing shifts happening within the consumer market arena. ‘Brands’ are transformed to ‘dreams’ with the purpose to create ‘social movements – new trends’. Similarly, the typical marketing term of ‘customer satisfaction’ is transformed into ‘share of entertainment’ in order to create ‘customer experience’. Advertisers are shifting from ‘story-telling’ oriented advertisements to ‘story-sharing’ advertisements. They shift product marketing messages from ‘like’ to ‘love’ concept from ‘price’ to ‘priceless’ likewise. All these marketing shifts will inevitably affect B2B international selling as B2B relations have to be based and serve a new ‘marketing outfit’ for the end users. Regarding B2B selling, this is transformed to H2H (human to human) selling, following a similar pattern of marketing shifts described above. Co-creation (Edvardsson, 2011) sets new standards in the sales approach. It talks about a B2B ‘partner’ instead of ‘informant’ for the customer role, about ‘dialogue’ instead of ‘interviewing’ for customer information gathering, about ‘co-design’ instead of ‘assembly’ for customer solution design, and ‘proactive’ instead of ‘reactive’ in terms of use. Export account managers need to adapt their selling by following these new patterns and become more human-oriented in their professional sales performance.

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In terms of information technology, a positive impact in export performance has been identified in some empirical studies (Kuruzovich, 2013; Krishnan et al., 2014; Moral-Pajares et al., 2015), implying that effective CRM systems and on-line B2B sales transactions could increase further exports performance. This means that export account managers have to be well-trained in CRM systems and keep themselves updated on the latest IT developments in B2B selling, as these are considered necessary skills for a competent sales performance. Typical account managers with limited knowledge of IT are considered non-skilled account managers nowadays and they cannot be employed any more. Exporting companies seek proficient account managers with a good understanding and knowledge of IT tools that can be used to accelerate export sales efficiency. Market information is one of the major challenges that export account managers have to confront in their daily working environment. Nowadays, the level of market information is huge and steadily increasing. Therefore, export account managers have to train themselves how to manage and prioritize the information they

Dr. Tasos Galanakis visited Sales Excellence Week at TUAS. (From left to right) Liisa Kairisto-Mertanen, Sini Jokiniemi and Tasos Galanakis. Photo: Aino Korhonen

receive and most importantly, how to adapt it for their own benefit in their sales performance. Similarly, export account managers act as key informants providing corporate information to B2B customers. They have to consider how to inform B2B customers; by being punctual and clear to their message, in order to be well-understood. By this way, their own sales message will not be lost within the tremendous level of information B2B customers receive from their suppliers. Another critical challenge for an export account manager is sales education. Today’s ever-changing management agenda creates new B2B sales management techniques in exporting. Therefore, export account managers need to keep themselves constantly in contact with sales education despite their level of experience and their age (sales journals, training seminars, etc.). By this way, even wellexperienced account managers can benefit and evolve themselves in the sales performance and cope effectively with the competitive international B2B sales environment. Taking into consideration the major challenges that B2B export account managers have to confront in a global market, it can be deduced that the challenges are numerous and their complexity require high-skilled professionals with sales expertise and willingness to continuous learning. The sales profession has evolved tremendously during the last decades. In particular, export sales profession has been transformed from a typical English language speaking salesman (80s) to a competent university graduate, IT and sales expert with international sales and market orientation, and knowledge of local markets. Therefore, whoever wants to pursue an export B2B sales position, he must be always open on acquiring knowledge and adapting himself in the ever-changing demanding global market. Only by this way, he will be able to ‘survive’ professionally in the competitive market arena.

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Key references:

Moral-Pajares E., Mozas-Moral A., Bernal-Jurado E. and

Edvardsson, B., Tronvoll, B. & Gruber, T., 2011, Expanding

Medina-Viruel M.J., 2015, Efficiency and exports: Evidence

understanding of service exchange and value co-creation:

from Southern European companies, Journal of Business

a social construction approach, Journal of the Academy

Research, 68, 1506–1511

of Marketing Science, 39 (2), 327–339

Moran M., 2007, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web

Krishnan V., Groza M.D., Groza M.P., Peterson R.M. and

Changes the Old Marketing Rules, Pearson Education,

Fredericks E., 2014, Linking customer relationship


management (CRM) processes to sales performance:

Panagopoulos N.G., Lee N., Pullins E.B., Avlonitis G.J.,

The role of CRM technology effectiveness, The Marketing

Brassier P., Guenzi P., Humenberger A., Kwiatek P, Loe

Management Journal, 24(2), 162–171

T.W., Oksanen-Ylikoski E., Peterson R.M., Rogers B. and

Kuruzovich J., 2013, Sales technologies, Sales force

Weilbaker D.C., 2011, Internationalizing Sales Research:

management and online intermediaries, Journal of

Current Status, Opportunities, and Challenges, Journal of

Personal Selling & Sales Management, 33(2), 211–224

Personal Selling & Sales Management, 31(3), 219–242

Broaden your horizon – learn a new language Suvi Mäkinen Head of PR & Communications, German-Finnish Chamber of Commerce Finnish foreign trade In 2014, Germany overtook Russia’s position as Finland’s most important trading partner and was able to maintain the pole position in the following year. In 2015, 13.9 percent of Finnish exports landed in Germany, amounting to a total of 7.4 billion euro. The growth of almost a quarter in 2014 in Finnish exports to Germany continued with a steady 12-percent increase in 2015, at a time when the country’s total exports declined by 4 percent. For Finland, Germany was trading partner number one in 2015 – for Germany, Finland ranked as importing country number 25, exporting country 27.


“Mittelstand” – backbone of the German economy The lion’s share of the German economy consists of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The established definitions use an annual turnover of up to 50 million euro and either 249 (European Commission) or 499 employees (Institut für Mittelstandsforschung, IfM) as measuring units. According to both, SMEs make up for 99.5 or 99.6 percent of all companies in Germany. So, without a doubt “Mittelstand” – SME in German – are the backbone of the German economy. These companies are dispersed all over the country: the largest family owned businesses are based in exotic places such as

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Wolfsburg (60th largest city in the country), communication. As statistics show, not everyone Neckarsulm (no. 465), Gerlingen (no. 673) or speaks English. Europe counts more than 100 million German-speaking citizens – most of Bad Homburg (no. 174). them living in Germany, Austria and Switzerland Germany: similar but different but also in Liechtenstein, Luxemburg, northern With regards to culture and habits Germany Italy, eastern France and parts of Belgium. may at first sight seem similar to Finland – yet it is different. Companies aiming at the German For companies, multilingual staff stands for market should familiarize themselves with the better business relations, for individuals’ target market including the competitors in language skills open up broader job detail and get to know the cultural differences opportunities. in order to succeed. And maybe learn some German. German is the second most important language in research and one of the fundamental Just over half of Europeans speak a foreign languages when it comes to culture. The language language used by Goethe, Kafka, Mozart, Bach, There is a figure of speech in Finland stating Beethoven and others – still today every 10th that one can buy in whatever language but book is being published in German, eight only sell in the buyer’s language. With regards percent of all pages in the World Wide Web to Germany this seems to apply in particular: are in German. As the study “Europeans and their languages” conducted by the European Commission shows, Travelling is more rewarding when you are German is the most widely spoken mother able to communicate with your surroundings tongue language in Europe. 16 percent of rather than just single persons with possibly Europeans state German to be their first limited content. Speaking languages means language. being able to read between the lines. However, according to the same study, just over half of all Europeans claim to speak at least one other language in addition to their mother tongue. Every third German indicates not to speak any other language than German well enough to be able to have a conversation.

However, to myself, speaking languages has even more to it – it broadens your horizon. Like Frank Harris, an Irish-American journalist put it: “Every new language is like an open window that shows a new view of the world and expands your attitude towards life.”

In parallel, the numbers of Finnish pupils learning other languages than English at school have decreased continuously. Over the last 10 years, the number of examinees in German in the Finnish A-levels has fallen to a third of the amount in 2007.

There is nothing to add to that. The German-Finnish Chamber of Commerce promotes economic relations between Germany and Finland. The Chamber’s primary task consists of supporting German and Finnish companies in creating new business relationships. The German-Finnish Chamber of Commerce has about 700 member companies and is part of the network of German Chambers of Commerce Abroad (AHK) with 130 locations in 90 countries.

Learning a new language means a lot of work, so why bother? Being able to speak another language facilitates

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Sales or Marketing? What are we in charge of? Kazuko Deno Ph.D. Course student MBA , Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, Kwansei Gakuin University Institute of Business and Accounting, Japan Hello, everyone! Last year, I attended the Sales Excellence Week as the only Japanese participant. I am a Ph.D. student who majors in marketing and a professional coaching. My study is to find a way to improve marketing activities by coaching, just like Dr. Jokiniemi. Luckily, I got a chance not only to attend the event, but also to give a speech about Japanese marketing. Speaking of Finland, we think of Dr. Grönroos, one of the well-known scholars in Japan. I met Dr. Jokiniemi on November 15th for the first time, and we talked over hours as if we had been long-time friends. I came to learn that she wrote her doctoral dissertation exactly on the same subject as I! Further to my surprise, Dr. Grönroos was her supervisor. What a serendipity!

What I found; ”Okyakusama ha kamisama desu.” =”Customer is the God” Strong spirit of service Customer feel obligation

On November 17th, I finally gave a speech. My lecture was about Japanese insurance, but it must have been boring if I talk about only business. So I showed promotional items to attendees, talked about some sales episodes with gifts for the customers. Further, we are even expected to buy some gifts for our coworkers when we go on a trip on only weeklong holidays. “Incidentally, I spend my precious one week to join Sales Excellence Week”. Everyone applauded at once. I was so glad. That evening, I attended a dinner with professors. I asked them something I had been wondering about. That is, “Why is the title sales, not marketing?” In Japan, we have marketing classes but there is no sales classes. Marketing is comprehensive, while sales is regarded as a part of marketing. But these professors seemed to focus on sales. They looked at each other for a moment, then one of them tried to explain. “Well, that is just we are also wondering...but, this week we are talking about Sales.” Well, I understood. We can’t divide sales from marketing. Sales is a part of marketing, and an essential element of relationship marketing. It is a key factor to build a concrete relationship between the marketer and the customer. That is why we have ‘Sales Excellence Week’. I wish I can return with many more fellow Japanese next year.

Build relationship 1


Journal of Excellence in Sales


The art of non-selling Dylan Van den Bremd Bachelor Student at HoGent Belgium As I’m a ‘Financial Business Management’ student, people look upon me as the guy who is good with numbers more often than someone who has an insight in the techniques and tricks of the sales industry. Nevertheless the financial industry hides one of the most powerful, yet quite forgotten and ignored, sales technique which could be the difference between ruling over or being overruled within your own industry. This unique thing that I’m talking about is the art of turning ‘non-sales situations’ into new opportunities. During the past two years in college I’ve been taught that whenever you’re trying to sell a financial product (e.g. loans, stock funds, car insurance…), the keyword equals to ‘trust’. And I think that most of you agree with this statement. For example, if your banker were to react angrily, impulsively or simply ignore you whenever you decided not to invest in any of the products that he offers you, you would probably search a new place to deposit your well-saved money. Normally, none of you have ever been in this situation. This is because financial employees are trained to handle the occurrence of ‘non-sales situations’ and reform those lost opportunities into new ones. It’s this essential process within our sales business that I will explain and share with you in the following article. HOW DOES IT WORK? I’ve been bragging enough now about how good this technique is etc. So now it’s time to explain how this technique works exactly. No

matter when or where you use this technique, it always comes down to the same five basic steps you need to take in order to succeed. Even though I will only discuss these 5 steps in this article, it’s important that you don’t limit yourself just to these steps. It’s important to see how the customer reacts to the actions you take; the technique is rather a guideline for creating new sales opportunities. So first of all it’s essential to recognize the ‘non-sales’ behavior of your clients. If you can’t notice this behavior while your clients are in your shop, they’ll be leaving without even giving you a chance to ask them a single question. Basically this means that whenever you get the feeling your client is losing his or her interest in the products you offer, you should prepare yourself to reform this situation. Therefore we go over to the second step: ‘Convince to convince’. Before you start a conversation, you need to convince yourself of what you are going to say. If you don’t believe in what your company stands for, you definitely won’t make the right impression on the clients. You can’t convince them when you aren’t convinced yourself. Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean you’re going to convince your customers to buy a certain product at this particular moment. You need to forget

Journal of Excellence in Sales



your own interests (e.g. commission on sales, gains…) and see this moment as a long-term investment in your customer’s file, which will be explained later on in the final step of the process. When you engage in this technique you must not forget that you’re trying to establish a customer relationship, not another sale. The selling part is something you can start focusing on after you finish the 5-step process. So you’ve noticed a customer who isn’t having the time of his life in your store, you’re convinced that it’s time to turn the odd’s in your favor. Then it’s time to initiate the third step. This step will probably be the most difficult one. This can be explained by the fact that the ‘success factor’ of this step depends completely on your customer. His or her cooperation will determine whether or not you’ll succeed in your objectives. The third step includes discovering why the customer isn’t interested in what your store has to offer. It can take some time before the customer is honest about the problems he’s dealing with while shopping in your store. Therefore it’s essential to use the ‘5 W’s method’. This means that you’ll need to repeat the ‘Why-question’ at least five times to discover the real problem. For example, your client says he doesn’t find the right clothes in your store. So you simply repeat the same question again: ‘Why not?’. A possibility is that your client answers he can’t find any nice blue pants. If you simply keep repeating this question it’s obvious that eventually you’ll know exactly what your customer is missing in your store. It’s even possible he totally dislikes what your store has to offer. But that isn’t a problem at all, because now you know the ‘soft-spot’ of the person who you’re talking to. It’s also possible that your client doesn’t cooperate at all in this process. The only thing you can do then is simply to stay polite and proceed to the fifth and final step. But when your client is open about his shopping experience and you’ve determined


the major problem, it’s time for the fourth step: ‘Comfort your customer and gain trust’. As I said before, trust is a very important element in sales business. Even though this step won’t take much of your time, it will mean a world of difference to your client. After discovering the major problem that your client is dealing with, you should try to comfort him or her. The customer may not get a bad feeling about being honest about his dislikes at any moment. Contrary, the client must get the feeling that you’ll be looking for a solution to his or her problem. But once again, before you start selling, it’s important that you’ve finished the whole process. Once you’re finished you can focus on the sales part again. This switch-over happens within the fifth and final step. In this step you’ll reform the missed sales opportunity into a new one. This can be achieved in a couple of ways. For example, you can help him to find the product he wants, not only by offering what is in your store, but if you are willing to, you could direct him to another store where they sell the product he’s looking for. This might seem ridiculous as you send the customer to a competing business, but the customer will see this differently and remember you as the solver of his problem. It’s basically a matter of creating a good business image and wonderful mouth-to-mouth advertising. It’s however understandable that you don’t just want to rely on the goodness of your customer. Therefore you must assure that he returns to your store in the near future. Just make sure that he will remember your store after he has left it. WHY SHOULD YOU USE IT? Now that I’ve briefly explained how you can reform a ‘non-sales situation’ into a new opportunity I’d like to end with a short reminder of why you should definitely use this method in your business. Transforming your idea into a company, ending up selling

Journal of Excellence in Sales


your products all across the country or with some effort even across the globe. Opening your own store and selling those goods that other entrepreneurs have created. Even your computer skills can enable you to create your own ICT services company if you find the right clients. It is quite an accomplishment to acquire this, but unfortunately not so difficult to lose it all again. All of the above is an essential part of becoming successful in sales, which is what you’ll eventually become with the right effort,

at least if you keep the following in mind: when you’re just focused on selling your products or services, you’ll miss many opportunities that the ‘non-sales situations’ offer. And finally, I’d like to say that this method can be used in all businesses. I’ve been focusing on the financial market and used a retail store in my examples but this method works everywhere. From a marketing agency to a supermarket, everyone can learn this method.

The man behind Sales Excellence Week 2017 Aino Korhonen Project Coordinator at TUAS Business Skills – the Power of Questions is the theme of the third Sales Excellence Week in November 2017. Sales Excellence Week III Director is Jouko Broman, sales lecturer at Turku University of Applied Sciences. Who is Broman, what is his story? What does the three-day event have to offer this year? It was a hot Tuesday morning in Istanbul. The meeting was about to start. A large amount of preparation was required for this meeting. Ten representatives from Ülker, the biggest food industry business in Turkey, were sitting on the other side of the table. The agenda of the meeting was to present an offer about a cholesterol lowering bioactive ingredient branded Benecol. On Wednesday an American competitor would present their solution, which is six dollars cheaper. Chief sales officer Jouko Broman had chosen

cross-functional sales as the approach for the final negotiation. He had gathered a team of six experts representing the relevant Raisio Benecol Oy departments to cover all customer needs in detail. The team was prepared to tackle all the concerns and suspicions Ülker might have. They were coached to convince that the Benecol ingredient created a huge business opportunity for Ülker. It had taken Broman long to get to this point. Broman become interested in business while he was studying Bio and Food chemistry at the University of Turku. The option for better income in sales and his interest in people encouraged Broman to choose a career in business life. Product commercializing, export and building economic success inspired this social, young man. He saw that developing sales will create jobs domestically, grow the

Journal of Excellence in Sales



Jouko Broman

57 years old, born in Turku, Finland Married to Jaana and has two sons who are 25 and 28 years old Master of Philosophy, majored in Biochemistry and Food chemistry, graduated in 1987 from the University of Turku Has had nearly a 30-year career in life-science business Currently working as a senior lecturer at Turku University of Applied Sciences

Product Specialists were taken for a training week in the middle of nowhere to study creative problem solving and human behavior. They eagerly absorbed the new knowledge and were stunned by the studies, which were something else. Broman’s a successful career started from here. He built a sales and distribution network in the challenging area of the Middle East and managed international sales operations globally. He took part in growing the exports of Finnish products and building internationally recognized brands. For example, the sales of the Benecol ingredient grew from 27 up to 52 million euros in couple of years when Broman was leading the commercialization and internationalization. Broman’s team secured the deal in Turkey. Ülker was convinced that Raisio could serve them much better than the competitor in America. Jouko Broman. Photo: Aino Korhonen. European Raisio Oyj was geographically closer and aimed to do intense co-operation with tax revenue and secure the function of the Ülker. The company even promised to help Finnish public sector. with marketing campaigns. Finns had beaten Clearly, there was a need for commercialization Americans in sales. experts in Finland, but Broman was a chemist How can one build this kind of career and and did not yet have commercial skills. success in sales? According to Broman, as an However, right after graduation Pharmacia employee you need to be flexible and ready Wallac Oy chose him as a Product Specialist, to do everything that is in the best interest and the company invested in intensive training of the company, the nation and yourself. The programs for the new employees. Presentation right timing, suitability and good luck have skills, product management, marketing, an impact on landing the right job. The happy counselor selling, and communication were end depends on you – how can you meet the covered among others. For instance, all new expectations and develop yourself? When it


Journal of Excellence in Sales


comes to business, customer oriented approach needs to be the basis of your actions. You need to listen to the customer very carefully, take an immediate hold of the opportunities that the customer raises to start to build new products. You need to be forward-thinking and sense what is possibly happening next. One of the key factors to success are good colleagues. One important colleague for Broman was his long-term supervisor, Jukka Lavi, who was a Sales Director at Wallac Oy for over 20 years, and later also led their common business operations. However, spending nearly 30 years on airplanes, airports and hotels was enough for Broman. Now he wants to share his experience and knowledge with young talents and works as a sales lecturer at Turku University of Applied Sciences. In his teaching he highlights communication skills, especially the power of asking questions. Good questions help

you to find out the customer’s needs and requirements. They also help to solve many challenging situations as a leader. If you want to be a master, practice, be prepared and trust the power of good questions. In March 2017 Broman organizes Sales Excellence Week III which combines the knowledge of experienced sales professionals, requirements of working life and internationality. The themes of the three-dayevent are sales and purchasing excellence. How does digitalization affect sales and purchasing processes? What kind of knowledge and talents do business organizations appreciate? Sales Excellence Week III offers fresh viewpoints, a place to ask questions, discuss and network related to these themes. Broman welcomes both young and more experienced professionals to get new ideas for how they can improve their skills and knowledge.

Journal of Excellence in Sales






Journal of Excellence in Sales


For more information and signing up for the event:

Sales Excellence Week 21st - 23rd of November 2017 Tuesday Nov 21st

Turku Sales Competition Day Wednesday Nov 22nd

Business Impact Day Thursday Nov 23rd

Excellence in Purchasing and Sales Competences Journal of Excellence in Sales



European universities and businesses facing the future together Tarja Åberg Project Manager at TUAS Erasmus+

Innovation Competencies Assessment Workshops Rater Training Workshop

FINCODA, Framework for Innovation Competencies Development and Assessment Fincoda’s main aim is to provide solutions for creating a solid path for forthcoming innovators from university to companies. A joint development and assessment framework enables smooth cooperation and communication between innovators’ educators and their recruiters. The FINCODA project arose from a recognition of how important innovation is to both the business and academic worlds. At the core, the project is about the development of the FINCODA Innovation Barometer Assessment Tool. This is a psychometric tool that measures individuals’ capacity for innovation. Main deliverables: FINCODA will produce several remarkable tangible outputs: An Online Toolkit for Behavioral Assessment relating to Innovation. Massive open online course (MOOC) related to Behavior Assessment


The FINCODA project is led, coordinated and administered by Turku University of Applied Sciences, Finland, and the project comprises a consortium of universities and businesses from all partner countries: Universitat Politècnica de València (UPV) (Spain) University of Applied Sciences Utrecht (Netherlands) Manchester Metropolitan University (UK) Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (Germany) Business Partners, 9 innovation intensive companies from 5 different corners of Europe: Elomatic Ltd (Finland) Lactoprot (Germany) John Caunt Scientific Ltd (UK) Carter & Corson Business Psychologists (UK) Schneider Electric España SA (Spain) Meyer Turku Oy (Finland) Celestica (Spain) ECDL (The Netherlands) Enterprise Europe Northwest EENNW (UK) The results of Fincoda will be discussed during Sales Excellence Week 2017 in Turku, Finland.

Journal of Excellence in Sales


DIVA – Towards smart sales through creating value in business-to-business markets in a digitalized world Pentti Korpela Principal Lecturer Emeritus, TUAS Composed of a unique mix of research institutions and companies operating both in Finland and abroad, the DIVA consortium wants to undertake the task of enhancing the global competitiveness and competencies of Finnish companies to create value in an era of fundamental change in business-buyer behavior. Background Business buying is changing significantly due to digitalization. Studies carried out in the early 2010s claim that a business buyer now makes 60% of his purchasing decision based on online information. This means that a salesperson has less opportunities to create value with buyers than before. This rapid change in purchasing methods has created a critical gap in both academic literature and business knowledge. We need both in-depth information of the business-to-business (b-to-b) buyer’s digital journey and new tools to support companies’ integration of sales and marketing in this transformation.

The target of the DIVA research project was to provide new information on the effects of digitalization on business buying. In order to reach the objectives the DIVA research consortium adopted a synergic and multidisciplinary approach to study the transformation of the business-buying process. The data gathering and analysis included both quantitative and qualitative approaches at different stages of the customer’s buying process. The findings were utilized in creating new tools that support the integration of sales and marketing. The DIVA project findings and tools are widely disseminated to business and academic communities. Overview of current outcomes and findings The research project started at the beginning of the year 2015. As a result of quantitative and qualitative research and experimental tool development, new knowledge has been created to better understand digitalization from the buyer’s viewpoint and its implications to the seller company. The following overview covers the existing key outcomes and findings.

Journal of Excellence in Sales



1. Indicator of degree of digitalization in sales and marketing The DIVA research project has developed a free and easy-to-use indicator for sales and marketing management. The indicator helps to realize and review the digitalization of sales from a broader perspective than the use of new software. The starting point for the development of the indicator was a pre-survey of sales and marketing practices in partner companies. The indicator will be useful for most companies who are planning to digitize their sales and marketing activities. Piloting experiences show that the indicator also assists with the structuring and mapping of the development actions needed in effective digitalizing sales and marketing practices. 2. Sales robot A physical sales robot used to work in a hardware store speaking and understanding several languages and guiding customers to the right shelves in the store. The DIVA sales robot works in the virtual world and clarifies the needs and wishes of the customer in order to be able to persuade him about the good features of the product that it is selling. The DIVA sales robot is a software agent on a company’s web site pursuing a dialogue with the B2B customer. It asks questions and the potential customer answers them by selecting the reply from a predefined list. 3. DIVA research results − 27% of B2B customers use digital services during purchase process Over 35,000 Finnish B2B decision makers were invited to participate in Diva’s online survey in autumn 2015. As a result, total of 2,358 responses were collected from B2B customers of the co-operating companies, the response rate being 8.5%. B2B decision-makers were asked whether they had made the purchase decision online, i.e. before contacting a sales


representative related to a purchase. Results show that 27% of B2B customers had used digital services (e.g. websites, social media, mobile apps) during their last purchase experience with a company and out of these respondents 18.5% made the purchase decision online. 15% of these B2B customers also completed the purchase online. 4. DIVA research results – how B2B customers rate digital tools they use? Even though studies conducted among consumers indicate that social media, blogs, chats and photo/video content communities are widely used in today’s digitalized world, our results reveal that they are less important to B2B customers compared to for example websites, email and search engines. Results reveal that age impacts on the perceived importance of digital tools among B2B customers. Among the age segments from 18 to 65 years the search engine was the most important digital tool before a purchase decision, while mature respondents (aged 66 years or over) rated email the most important. 5. Even a small investment in sales automation can lead to satisfactory results A study on the user experience (UX) delivered by sales automation tools in the B2B context was completed among micro business companies. The most important outcome of this student thesis project is that even a small investment in sales and purchase automatization can lead to satisfactory results. 6. B2B buyers are utilizing two parallel buying processes: the sales encounter-driven and digitalization-driven Digitalization and the associated shift in buyer behavior have led to buyers approaching sellers at multiple touchpoints and sellers no longer being in control of the selling process. The findings suggest that B2B buyers are

Journal of Excellence in Sales


utilizing two parallel buying processes: the sales encounter-driven and digitalizationdriven. In the sales encounters-driven journey, buyers first recognize the need or problem and then start searching for information, subsequently evaluating different alternatives and preferring discussions with the sales person. In the digitalization-driven journey, the buyer starts with an information search before the need or problem recognition, and depending on the information, a need may arise or an interest in evaluating the alternative could emerge. The buyer’s journey, whether sales-encounter-driven or digitalization-driven, seems to be industry and company specific. The sales management should secure digital access to customers, adapt a social media strategy to customers, and develop the salespeople as experts, relationship builders, and value creators. 7. Conference papers The DIVA research findings have been or will be presented at the following international conferences: CINET 2015 – Social Media in Networked Innovation between B-to-B Companies, ISPIM Innovation Symposium 2015

– Towards Social Media Strategy: Challenges in B-to-B Sales and Innovation, GSSI 2016 – Business Buyer’s Expectations Before the First Buyer-Seller Interaction, ISPIM 2016 – Identifying New Innovations in Diverse B-to-B Sales Meetings, SGBED 2016 – Personality Types in Buyer-Seller Interactions, GMC 2016 – The Influence of Socio-Demographics and Technology Readiness on Mobile Device Use in B2B Digital Services, PACIS 2016 – How Technology Readiness Explains Acceptance and Satisfaction of Digital Services in B2B Healthcare Sector?, GSSI 2017 – Critical Touchpoints in the B2B Buying Process: Impact on the Selling Process in the Digital Era, HICSS 2017 – How Individual Technology Propensities and Organizational Culture Influence B2B Customer’s Behavioral Intention to Use Digital Services at Work?, ISPIM 2017 – Challenges of Collecting B2B Customer Insight from Multiple Channels, ISPM 2017 – Innovating Use of Digital Channels in B2B Sales with Customers. 8. Workshops and seminars Based on the findings of the research, workshops with the partner companies have been organized to increase understanding of

Journal of Excellence in Sales



customer expectations of the supplier’s digital channels and the salesperson’s behavior and to assist the partner company in creating the digital strategy. In addition, at the nationwide seminar May 11th 2017, the representatives of the partner companies and the DIVA researchers are discussing how the digitalization changes the B2B buying behavior. The research project continues to the end of the year 2017 by disseminating the findings and outcomes in the form of academic papers and practical recommendations to practitioners. Project information Project: DIVA – Towards smart sales through creating value in business-to-business markets in digitalized world

Research institutions: Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences, Technical Research Centre of Finland, Turku University of Applied Sciences, University of Eastern Finland in collaboration with Vlerick Business School, Belgium. Companies and their industry: Avarn Security (Security services and solutions), Digia (Software and service provider), Martela (Furniture solutions and workplace related services), Telia (Telecommunications provider) and Terveystalo (Healthcare services) Funding: Finnish funding agency for innovation – TEKES (70%), companies (10%), Finnish research institutions (20%).

Duration: 1.1.2015–31.12.2017 Project Manager: Johanna Vuori / Haaga-Helia Project website: diva/ Twitter: @divaresearch


Journal of Excellence in Sales


MILLI - Boosting Sales Competencies Among Youth MILLI Project

“The ‘MILLI - Boosting Sales Competencies Among Youth’ project will create an innovative forum for different interest groups from various levels of education, authorities and business life. The aim of the forum is to increase the understanding, skills and appreciation of sales. The project will exploit the verifiably most efficient learning methods. These methods strongly activate students from different levels of education, and increase their key skills in sales and active citizenship in a wide perspective. On individual level, the project will enhance their employment opportunities.” Source:

Journal of Excellence in Sales



Voice of Sales 2017 Sales student in a hosting job? Ninni Mäkinen Bachelor Student in Sales, TUAS How did a Bachelor student in Sales end up hosting the Voice of Sales? I was experiencing my exchange studies in Toronto when I received an email about an opportunity to host the Voice of Sales. The first thing on my mind was that it would not be for me. Standing out there and talking in front of hundreds of people. After few minutes I started to think about the opportunity again and that this is once in a life time chance. So why not. I sent my response to the email and pointed out that I was interested to host the event. A couple of hours later I got a response: Congratulations and welcome to host the event at Logomo. On the next day it hit me. I was really going to stand there and host the event. I was nervous and insecure about the whole thing. I did not have any experience. I did not have a clue what to do out there. Then I just realized that all I have to do is the best that I can. After I returned to Finland I started to get ready for the main day. I started to get to know more about the Voice of Sales and the MILLI project. We also had a meeting with the main organizer of the event, Ari Tornberg, and the other host Miia Kaerala a week before the main day. Before I even realized the day was there. The main day went by so fast that before I even noticed it was over. The first couple of times I was really nervous when had to get to the stage and speak. Then it started to get easier. And in few minutes it was actually fun to stand up there and speak literally to hundreds or people.


And apparently it went quite well, because now I am going to host another event this spring. This time around, all the nervousness is replaced with excitement and joy. Who knows where these kind of opportunities carry and if you don’t take on those you will never know.

Key note speaker Jarppi Leppälä.

Journal of Excellence in Sales


Speed date job interviews for students at Voice of Sales.

Jarppi Leppälä and hosts Miia Kaerala and Ninni Mäkinen on the stage.

Me as a salesperson? Aino Korhonen Project Coordinator at TUAS What do young think about sales as a profession? Sales Excellence Center tried to find out and interviewed students about the topic at the Voice of Sales event in January 2017. Most of the students saw that someday they could be sales professionals. The motivational factors were interest in sales and business.

Students were also interested in communication and working with other people. However one fifth of the respondents were not interested in a sales career. Half of them told that they are not interested in sales or it is not their thing. Stage fright and the bad reputation of selling were also reasons why some students didn’t see themselves as a salespersons in the future.

Journal of Excellence in Sales



Preconception usually is that money is the best motivator of a salesperson. However only one respondent told that money is the reason why he is interested in sales as a profession. Instead the possibility to develop oneself and the challenging and variating tasks were the reasons why students were interested in sales. Also the urge to help customers and bring value to them encouraged students to choose a career in sales. What do the young want to sell then? Nearly three quarters of the responses included product sales whereas service sales roused interest among one quarter of students. Technology was the most usually mentioned category when asking what one would like to sell. Also selling things related to sports, food and drink interested students. There were not many differences between the answers of boys and girls. One of the rare differences was that girls would like to sell cosmetics and clothes, whereas boys were interested in vehicle sales. When asking about to whom one would like to sell to, nearly half of the respondents said that they would like to sell to regular people,

consumers. One third of the students would like to sell to companies. Nearly as many told that it doesn’t matter who the customer is. On the other hand, every sixth student defined softer criteria for an ideal customer, for example reliability, shared values and personal relationship to the customer. There were differences between students from different educational levels. Students from Vocational School wanted to sell to consumers, especially to young people. Students from Upper Secondary School wanted to sell to both consumers and companies. Companies were the most popular customer segment among the students of University of Applied Sciences. Altogether, sales is doing good! According to the interviews the young are interested in sales and see it as a potential career choice. Preconception of door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman who forces the customer to buy doesn’t smear the reputation of sales among youth anymore. Of course it would be interesting to do the same interview in a normal class, compare the results and find out if the theme of the event affected the results.

Infobox There were 36 respondents, who were students aged 16–24 or more. The questions: Background factors: Age, gender, level of education Can you see yourself as a sales professional in the future? If you were a sales professional, what would you like to sell? Who would be your ideal customers?


Journal of Excellence in Sales


Project ShopInOn Sini Jokiniemi Principal Lecturer (Sales) at TUAS The cryptic name ShopInOn depicts the essence of the whole project. It refers to the modern, often hybrid way of doing shopping: one can shop in a physical shop and/or one can also shop online. Nowadays companies need to master both of these channels in order to reach the attention of their focus groups, increase the cash flow and keep customers happy 24/7. Especially smaller shops and boutiques located in city centers are facing difficult times. People often find it easier to drive to malls in the suburban areas with plenty of parking space around. However, lively city centers with traditions and modern vibes give each city its own unique character and also attract the attention of tourists. This project aims to find ways to help shop owners to boost sales both in the shops and online. The best scenario is that these shopping channels are integrated and encourage the shopper visiting one channel to also visit the other. The project started after a positive funding decision from Liikesivistysrahasto (Foundation for Economic Education) and the co-operation

of Turun yrittäjät ry (the Association for Entrepreneurs in Turku). Altogether 9 microand small-sized companies started with the project in early spring 2016. A team of students interviewed each of the companies and asked e.g. about their expectations for the project and their current usage of various physical and virtual marketing and selling channels. A workshop was arranged for the companies in June 2016 where company representatives were able to network and share their thoughts about using a greater variety selling channels as well as ponder over the optimal scope of their company websites. Maarit Fellman from Intoo Koulutus offered a motivating presentation of digital marketing possibilities and the audience was also given a Social Media Handbook prepared by students, covering the usage and benefits of Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Periscope and LinkedIn. In September 2016, each of the 9 participating companies were given a team of 2–3 students. Before getting in touch with the companies, student teams conducted mystery shopping online and in physical locations. When they met with the companies for the first time,

Journal of Excellence in Sales



students described their findings of mystery shopping activities. Each of the companies agreed on a working plan with the students as the companies had the opportunity to use a 40-hour input from each student for activities related to multichannel presence and other activities.

and asked for their experiences of the project as well as the new level of activities in various channels. The project involved close co-operation of the responsible teacher, the companies and the student teams throughout the whole project life cycle. Six companies continued with the project for the whole year. Student teams wrote business cases of their Once again the students interviewed the activities in these six companies – the students’ participating companies in February 2017 articles follow this introductory text.

Exploring the world of evening bingo events Case SBH-yhtiöt Joni Jakonen, Juho Lehtovaara & Patrick Lindfors Sales Bachelor Students We started working in the project in autumn 2016. The project assignment came from a company called SBH-yhtiöt. We hadn’t heard about the company before and in our first meeting we found out why. SBH-yhtiöt is a background force of individual bingo and lottery organizers, who can use their services. The first meeting with the company went well and the framework for planning and operating in the project was clear. The aim of the project was to gather all the current evening bingo locations and their contact information on one map on the website, so present and future players could find new places to play in. A map already existed, but there was only a couple of bingo places in it. We started to collect an email register of


the bingo organizers. After that we planned a survey about bingo evenings, their operations and times. It was very important to plan the questions carefully. What information do we need and how can we get it? In this phase we used the MailChimp tool to create and send a newsletter to many email addresses at the same time. It has been a useful tool also in other projects and assignments we have done. Some of the bingo organizers answered to our survey and some of them didn’t. We were grateful for all the answers we got, because it was easy to copy the contact and other information from the email and add it to our contact list. One employee of SBH-yhtiöt helped us and updated the information to the website, because he was one of the website’s creators and familiar with using it.

Journal of Excellence in Sales


We decided to call those bingo organizers who we didn’t reach via email. Most of them were quite aged and were not familiar using the internet so they didn’t have email either. However after a short discussion they were willing to tell about their bingo events. Some of the phone calls lasted for long. It was nice to talk to them and hear how passionately they have been organizing bingo events for years, or some of them even for decades. They told about the events with expertise and were very flattered when someone was willing to listen and develop evening bingo operations. The answers to the survey and discussions with the bingo organizers taught us a lot about the

industry. We also went mystery shopping to the Eerikinkatu evening bingo in Turku, which was very interesting and eye-opening. Altogether it was very interesting to do a project in a new field. In addition to getting to know a new industry, during the project work we learned how to use the MailChimp tool, more about telecommunication, especially with aged people, and of course what kind of role SBHyhtiöt plays in the operations of bingo events. The co-operation with SBH-yhtiöt went very well during the whole project, even so well that they decided to do another project with our project team.

Case Hyvinvointipalvelut Sinulle Sarlotta Rantala & Iida Laine Sales Bachelor Students It all started in September 2016 at Turku University of Applied Sciences. Our teacher Sini Jokiniemi had planned our project for a company named Hyvinvointia Sinulle (“Wellbeing for You”). As soon as we got to know which project we’d get, we were very excited about it. We started our project with a small group of two students. We went to see the owner of company, Päivyt Suhonen. She gave us a lot of interesting tasks to do during the project. The main task was that we could utilize the impact of social media. Since this was a marketing communications and digital

commerce course, we mostly focused on digitalization in the project. We started to study the company’s background and we paid attention to the social media used by the company at the time. We noticed that the company has not actively posted on any social media channels. We started to think about what would motivate them to post more and what kind of things would be good to be posted on social media. A couple of things came to mind, for example organizing different draws on Facebook, sharing some tips for feeling good and in general just being active with updates on currently trending issues.

Journal of Excellence in Sales



We presented our ideas to the business owner. She was inspired by them very much, and promised to be more active on social media herself. Our task was not to update social media. She asked us to come up with Christmas-related topics for their website and Facebook. We thought about a lot of things, for example marketing tools for future Christmas sales. When planning the Christmas-related things, we started to learn facts about the Hyvinvointia Sinulle company products, because we were going to take part in the “Osaava Nainen” trade fair, all by ourselves, without the company owner. We had to know the product information, so that we could prove our knowledge to the fair customers. At the fair, everything went well, and we learned much. It was a very interesting


job. We were there only on Friday, because the company owner could go there on the other days. After the fair, we focused on planning a blog. Päivyt had for long had the idea of a blog, where she could publish her own thoughts and share her own knowledge of well-being. She had already thought of blog titles about which she would write to her readers. Our job was to design the blog’s appearance and establish the whole blog. We also wrote future titles ready in drafts, so Päivyt could easily start to write the blog she had dreamed of for so long. The project as a whole was interesting and instructive, even if we didn’t get to implement our own ideas so much, because of Päivyt’s ready planned tasks. Päivyt says that we were a big help to her and her company, and that was very rewarding to hear.

Journal of Excellence in Sales


The importance of social media Case Turkispaja Tiina Katajainen, Tero Salonen, Nelli Railanmaa Sales Bachelor Students Nowadays harnessing social media is a very important lifeline for every company. The more you bring your company to social media, the better. This was the first thing that we noticed as we started working with our ShopInon project company. Last fall we started a project with Turkispaja. Turkispaja is owned by Mia Ristioja who is an entrepreneur and furrier. She has for over 20 years offered her expertise in the Turku area. The meaning of our ShopInon project was to expand Turkispaja’s visibility on social media and give the company more ideas for expanding their clientele. The challenge with our company was the prejudice that surrounds the fur industry. But during this project we learnt that it’s possible to make, for example, fur coats out of ethical furs. For example, these furs are hunted, not raised on fur farms. The other and used option is to acquire the fur from roadkill, like Finnish raccoon. This is a good option for those people who are against fur farming, but still want to wear clothes made from furs. That’s reasonable because

high-quality fur clothes and accessories last a long time, usually from one generation to other. That’s why it’s an ecological and good investment. Our first job in this project was to accompany Ristioja at the Osaava Nainen exposition. One member of our group spent one fair day on Ristioja’s stand and got the precious opportunity to connect with other local entrepreneurs and at the same time got valuable lessons on sales. It was good and valuable experience on the whole. Our next assignment was to create a new look for Turkispaja’s website and additionally get new ideas for improving the grapevine. As said earlier, this project reminded our team how important networking is, especially when you’re an SME. It’s also very important to be active on social media. The more you get visibility for your company, the better. And the more you can spread positive word about your company, the more likely it is that the customers will find you.

Journal of Excellence in Sales



#Maunolife Case Mauno Restaurants Nina Tuomisto, Sanna Jokinen & Sanni Silanto Sales Bachelor Students How Did It All Start? We started the project with a good feeling and excitement. The project assignment came from restaurant Mauno. We were very interested in the company, because we all had working experience in the catering business. The project was a continuation to a previous student project for Mauno. We started with going through the mapping of the current state the previous project group had done. It was quite easy to form a project plan based on the mapping and start brainstorming new ideas. Mystery shopping of the company’s websites had been one part of the mapping and we took it into account in planning our project with Mauno’s personnel. We started to explore Mauno’s social media – what they already have, what should be improved and how we could use them more diversely. We were all familiar with using social media so we tried to think development ideas based on our own experiences. We tried to focus our ideas on the channels that we already knew, aiming to make the most of our knowledge and offer the best result for Mauno. However we knew that we must also search more information about other channels, so we could reach wide and diverse coverage for Mauno. Communicate the Greatness Mauno’s wish for the project was to get more information about its customers and broaden its clientele using different channels


in social media. The company’s image was one important theme Mauno brought up. We discussed our and Mauno’s own view about the company image and what kind of content rouses interest among customers. Then we had formed a clear vision which things we are going to communicate during the project. The most important goal was to communicate the diversity and quality of Mauno’s services, from both the company’s and the customer’s points of view. Mauno also told that the great atmosphere of doing things is an important part of their company and they would like to show it to the customers as well. Instagram Week Because the aim was to broaden the clientele in social media, we came up with the idea that Instagram is a useful channel to do it. Posting the pictures on Instagram is quite easy and they reach quite many followers, so broadening the coverage was actually a realistic goal. During one week we took pictures of Mauno’s restaurants, conference rooms, dishes and employees working in the kitchen so that the customers could get closer to the company. Our task was to plan the posts and take the pictures and Mauno’s task was to post them. As a part of the Instagram week we decided to have a competition targeting at getting more followers on Instagram. The point was that one needed to follow Mauno on Instagram and like the competition picture. The prize was free lunches for five days.

Journal of Excellence in Sales


Customer Survey on Facebook The company wanted to get information about its customers’ purchasing behavior and satisfaction with its products and services. We thought that the best way to find it out would be a customer survey. Mauno has lots of followers on Facebook so we decided to market the survey there to get the best coverage. We created the survey with Google Docs and linked it to Mauno’s Facebook page. It was simple to collect and report responses with Google Docs. We tried to get information about customer satisfaction, purchasing behavior and also development ideas and customers’ wishes. Our task was to create the survey, go through the answers and report the results to Mauno. To maximize the number of answers we also decided to draw a prize among the respondents. Altogether the project was challenging in a good way and taught us a lot. When doing a project for a company you need to adapt their way of working and often it opens up new points of view. During the project we learned how important it is every now and then check

to the plan and think how it works in the long run. For example, how Mauno’s personnel can continue the operations we have developed with their normal resources. Learning in a Real Business Case We learned that sometimes the schedule can change suddenly for reasons which don’t depend on us. Flexibility and fast problemsolving skills are needed in these situations. We also learned more about the marketing possibilities in social media, such as company pages and the versatility of them as a part of comprehensive marketing. In our opinion we succeeded in the project because Mauno experienced that it benefitted them, also when thinking about the future. They got the biggest advantage from the customer survey and its results. Also changing the Instagram account as a company account benefitted them; now Mauno can get more versatile information about their followers. As always, working in a group teaches to listen and respect others’ opinions. With compromises we can reach the target result.

Case Naantalin kuntokeskus Janina Leppämäki, Janika Paukku, Henrik Ekman Sales Bachelor Students Trying to increase the company’s visibility and awareness among potential customers. In autumn 2016 we choose a project assignment given by Naantalin kuntokeskus. We had never worked with this kind of project before. However the assignment was very clear and inspiring: we were supposed to come up

with new ideas how to increase the company’s visibility and awareness among customers, of course in co-operation with the company. We started with exploring the company’s websites and social media. Soon we noticed that Kuntokeskus is up to speed and clearly has put effort both in its websites and Facebook

Journal of Excellence in Sales



page. However there were not so many people who had liked their page on Facebook. This doesn’t necessarily tell directly how wellknown the company is, but it says something. A couple of competitors who offered the same kind of complete physiotherapy services and were located nearby had significantly more likes on their Facebook page. We started to think what the company’s target customer segment is and how we could reach them. Physiotherapy and body maintenance are services that are good for everyone and one cannot overdo. We happened to know that there is a group of middle-aged men, “Lads, let’s get fit” in Naantali. As far as we know, in his own opinion, a Finnish middle-aged man doesn’t need help even though he might struggle more and more every day only when putting his shoes on. A cup of coffee and a cookie on the side and it will get better – this way of thinking is unfortunately familiar. We saw a business opportunity: this could be a change to get new customers to Kuntokeskus. We contacted Sanna Pennanen, the director of Naantalin Kuntokeskus, and booked a meeting with her. The first meeting went well. The personnel welcomed us warmly. We discussed their business and services. Pennanen said that the business was doing ok, there were no any bigger issues, but of course a company can always improve, get new customers and be more visible. We found out that even though the company is located in central spot next to the Naantali market place, many citizens didn’t know the company. We decided that this is our common goal and started to think how we could increase the traffic through the door. Pennanen had also heard about the


“Lads, let’s get fit” group. She agreed that it is good idea to contact the group and see if there is a possibility to do co-operation. Another idea we came up with was to have an open day during the Christmas street opening event. Kuntokeskus could serve glogg and gingerbread cookies and our project team could be barkers. Next we contacted the leader of the “Lads, let’s get fit” group, Johanna Hvitfelt-Koskelainen. From the beginning she was very excited to do co-operation so we decided to meet. She told that the model was based on a Master’s thesis and she would like to improve it further. The group and its members had become very important to her. She also knew that they would really need the services of Kuntokeskus. Both parties wanted to work together so they decided to keep in touch and start to plan the strategy. We were very happy about this and felt that we had genuinely helped them. The Christmas street opening took place on the last week of November. With the help of Kuntokeskus we designed flyers that we could give to people at the market. We also organized a draw on Facebook, and the prize was a gift card to Kuntokeskus. On that night the market place was full of people. We discussed with them, told about the open day at Kuntokeskus and suggested that they get to know it. Many people visited Kuntokeskus and were genuinely interested in it and its services. We even needed to get some more glogg because we run out. We got many thanks from the personnel of Kuntokeskus for our contribution. They thought that many potential customers had visited the facilities. That night was our last task in the project. We got the image that our commitment to the project had been exemplary and the project had really helped Kuntokeskus.

Journal of Excellence in Sales


My journey with the OnnistuYrittäjänä portal Juho Kuusijärvi Bachelor student in Marketin, TUAS Developer for the OnnistuYrittäjänä Portal Digital Customer Journey Developer at If

If somebody would’ve told me a year ago that I was going to be a developer for the OnnistuYrittäjänä portal accompanied with experts from Varma, If and Nordea, as I had just become a part-time employee at If, I would have burst out laughing. Well, here we are and what a ride it’s been! I get to be a part of something that could completely alter the way Finland thinks of entrepreneurship and its hardships. It all started from thesis pressure. I was that guy who had almost finished his studies. Everything was done except the dreaded thesis, because I already had a job and time was a precious commodity. At first I didn’t want to do my thesis for an insurance company, as I worked in customer service, which was a bit wrong for a marketing student. One day I had a chat with my supervisor in a meeting and I had the guts to pop the question, hoping that we could find a solution which would satisfy both parties. A couple of weeks passed, until I was called for an interview. The interview was about a developer position in the OnnistuYrittäjänä portal and a representative of If as my thesis. After the interview I got the job! And that’s where my journey began.

Photo: Mikael Tómasson. Entrepreneurship has always been a part of my life. Coming from an entrepreneur family, I started working when I was 13 years old. I’ve seen the highs and the lows of being an entrepreneur and, in my opinion, the life of an entrepreneur is not as gloomy as some Finns think. The most important things an aspiring entrepreneur needs are support, a good plan and a great attitude. This is the reason why I respect the OnnistuYrittäjänä portal so much as it truly wants to help entrepreneurs thrive and evolve their businesses. It’s an all in one service. You can get invaluable information, whether you’re a new or an experienced entrepreneur, from the experts or from the articles and tools, not to mention the possibility to get your banking, and insurance services via the site as well. This is something that has been missing from Finland and it’s great to finally see it in action. My father never had a place like this to turn to when he was in doubt with his business. I do recommend everyone who is reading this text, and thinking whether or not it’s worth giving a shot, to

Journal of Excellence in Sales



come and visit our website. Use the tools and services and who knows you might be the next big thing. If you are thinking about becoming an entrepreneur, come visit our portal or contact us via the site. It is when you have started to plan your business that you can truly see whether or not you are cut out to be an entrepreneur, or if you are happy with being someone’s employee. My girlfriend and her

sister started their own company while they were still at school and it has been so amazing to be able to see their business grow. I have also had a chance to help them via the portal, and things have been going great. If they could do it, why couldn’t you? It’s a great way to get some extra income (plus it will look great in your resume in case you ever need to have one). If you have a plan, bring it forward!

Journal of Excellence in Sales Sales Excellence Center combines the needs of the businesses in the region with students’ input and world-class research on sales. Excellence Centers put together and develop the education, RDI activities and services of Turku University of Applied Sciences. The Journal of Excellence in Sales is a part of the activities of the Sales Excellence Center. Publisher: Turku University of Applied Sciences Joukahaisenkatu 3 20520 Turku, Finland

ISSN (printed): 2343-5291 ISSN (online): 2489-2203 Editor-in-chief: Sini Jokiniemi

Printed by: Painotalo Painola, Turku 2017

Editorial board: Sini Jokiniemi, Martti Komulainen, Marjo Kumpula, Elli Sillanpää & Aino Korhonen Cover Photo: Mikael Tómasson


Journal of Excellence in Sales


Student projects Studying at Turku University of Applied Sciences (TUAS) is strongly working life oriented. Learning at TUAS is based on innovation pedagogy, which links together professional know-how and theoretical research. Learning revolves extensively around project and teamwork. This offers students unique opportunities to work in real need-based projects assigned either by companies or R&D projects of TUAS. This section offers an overview of a selected number of student projects. The following students projects have been written by bachelor students who have carried out the project.

Customer journey Case Skanssi Tiina Katajainen, Sofia Lehto, Tero Tuominen & Nita Ruotsala Sales Bachelor Students This project was part of our course called project assignments. The goal of the Skanssi project was to find out about the customer journey and customer behavior. We executed this project via two different surveys. Basically, this means that we spent time at Shopping Centre Skanssi and asked people in two survey sessions how they feel about Skanssi, what possible improvements could be done and how these changes should be accomplished. The project started when we met Skanssi’s Marketing Manager Tiina Mikkola and got more detailed instructions. We were instructed to do the surveys on a busy week (Skanssiaiset) and on a non-busy week. After that we came up with the first survey questions and started to ask people’s opinions about Skanssi.

Practically this meant that we spent 11 hours in Shopping Centre Skanssi and interviewed their customers. To our first survey, we got 352 answers. After we had processed these answers, we had our second meeting with Mikkola where we discussed the results and based on that meeting we also designed the questions for the second survey. The second survey took place on a non-busy week and to that we got 205 answers. In addition, we also observed any the possible faults in shopping center by wandering all around Skanssi, including the outside and parking areas. After all of this we summarized the results from both surveys and observations and presented them to Skanssi’s Marketing Manager. In our opinion Skanssi benefitted from our

Journal of Excellence in Sales



surveys. We got valuable information from Skanssi’s customers and based on that we could present concrete examples and advice to Skanssi’s team. This means that they didn’t have to spend their own time to create solutions for the problems. We could also see the shopping center from an objective perspective which gave us different and innovative angles to see and think about how the problems could be solved. What did we learnt from this project? The most valuable lesson was that we learnt about

the customer journey and how important that is to a shopping center. It is very useful for all businesses to measure the levels of customer satisfaction and their needs. Basically, it’s critical for a company to listen to their customers, as there are often little problems and lacks that are difficult for the company to see by themselves, but that the customers are used to. When there are many little problems, eventually they form a big entirety and that’s why the customers choose one of the competing companies.

Photo: Skanssi.


Journal of Excellence in Sales


Lindström – Smart Container Mona Kuusela, Sami Haapaniemi, Reetta Vastamäki, Antton Virtanen Sales Bachelor Students R&D projects are part of the studies in the Bachelor’s degree program in in Professional Sales. The project assignments are either real business cases or assignments given by Turku University of Applied Sciences. In August 2016 four students took part in Lindström Oy’s project called ”Smart Container”. We started with getting to know Lindström Oy’s business, operations and background, and planned the activities and schedule of the project. Lindström Oy, founded 1848, is a Finnish company and one of the leading textile service companies in Europe. Lindström offers services related to working clothes, personal protective devices, carpets, hotel and catering textiles and industry towels. Lindström is planning a pick-up store made of containers located at Turku shipyard. The store is called ”Smart Container” because it is a smart self-service store without personnel. The product range includes for example personal protective devices, working clothes and equipment. There are 1 400 people from different fields working in the shipyard area, so the store is located in the same place where its customers are working daily. The project assignment was to plan the marketing of the Smart Container and interview customers about purchasing personal protective devices. We planned the questions for the interview, called ten companies that

work in the shipyard area and interviewed five of them. In the interview, we surveyed how the company is carrying out its purchasing and using personal protective devices at the moment, through what channel can the company be reached the easiest and through what channel they would like to hear more about the Smart Container. After the interviews, we had an understanding of the need for Smart Container, how interesting it is and what are the best ways to reach the potential customers. The businesses and their employees in the shipyard area are usually very busy so the best way to reach them is via email. We also found out that most of the businesses appreciate easiness in personal protective device purchases so the Smart Container will answer to the need of the target customers. As the final result of the project we planned a marketing event where Lindström can invite the potential customers and launch the Smart Container. The event will be a whole day event, so the customers can come and get to know the Smart Container whenever it is the best time for them. There will also be one or two scheduled events where guests will be personally invited and will get more detailed introduction of the Container. There will be coffee, doughnuts and sandwiches, which were much desired in the interviews.

Journal of Excellence in Sales



CASE: first own home? Karri Takila, Susanna Aaltonen & Jasmin Olli Sales Bachelor Students In fall 2016, a course with assignments where we cooperated with companies started in our school. Our group consisted of three persons and our assignment came from Säästöpankki. This assignment consisted of a few different parts, relating to buying one’s first apartment.

Next we started to create our own inquiry about the thoughts that students in Sepänkatu have on buying their own first flat. First we gathered our own thoughts about the same topic. After this it was time to design the questionnaires, both the paper version and Our assignment started quickly because of the electronic one and decide what things we tight schedule. We had only over a week’s time should ask in them. When the questionnaires to campaign a survey which was published by were done, we decided how long the answering Säästöpankki. The survey campaigning was time would be and we got movie tickets as a carried out with flyers, advertising the survey prize for the answerers. We started to market on our personal social media accounts, with a the inquiry with a stand in the school lobby. stand in our school lobby and we also shared We had patches for student overalls and other the survey via e-mail to all students on our little prizes for the ones that answered to the campus. We found out that the easiest and inquiry. The patches turned out to be a great best way to reach students were electronic way to get the attention we wanted. We also channels because we estimate that we reached got our inquiry link to the school’s intranet about 5 000 people that way. site, Messi. Our goal was to get 50 students to

Sales students (From left to right) Karri Takila, Susanna Aaltonen and Jasmin Olli visited Nooa Säästöpankki office. Photo: Riikka Niinijärvi.


Journal of Excellence in Sales


answer but we achieved 80. After the answering time closed we started to analyze the answers we got and tried to find similarities for example on the basis of gender or age. Based on the data that we collected, we noticed a few differences in the background data. Men were more interested in the issues related to housing conditions and the final costs of the apartment. Women on the other hand were often more interested in emotional things. Women also thought about the possible increase in the family size and the effects of that on the size of the apartment. The next remarkable difference was between single people and couples. Single people were more uncertain about the repayment of the loan and even buying an apartment. Couples clearly had already more knowledge about both. The respondents’ age did not have a clear effect on the results.

how big an apartment, what happens to Kela’s student allowance and where to get the best loan. The project’s highlight was a presentation for Nooa Säästöpankki in Helsinki. Three employees from Nooa Säästöpankki, two employees from Säästöpankki group and also our teacher Sini Jokiniemi were watching our presentation. Each member of our group was very nervous because of the presentation, but our group got very good impression about Nooa Säästöpankki. We talked in a very relaxed way and we noticed that everyone from Nooa Säästöpankki was truly interested our work.

We think that the whole project was very successful, interest and versatile. The project included a lot of different parts, where we planned together and used our different skills. We also answered Säästopankki’s own interview, which was conducted via e-mail. After the hardest work we explored Säästöpankki’s interview was the way to find Säästöpankki’s first-time home buyer’s guide. out how young people are able to save. That We read the guide and noticed that the guide interview was published on Säästöpankki’s was inclusive and it was very easy to read. website. Our assignment was timely for our We checked if we could find answers to the group and we learned a lot of new things about students’ questions in this guide. We noticed owning a first house. that almost every answer could be found in the guide. The most frequent questions were:

Journal of Excellence in Sales



Towards next issue The next issue of Journal of Excellence in Sales will be published in November, 2017. Wishing all our readers a great summer!

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