Journal of Excellence in Sales, 1/2019

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Journal of Excellence in Sales Evolution of the buying journey

10th Best Seller Competition

Sales people are the

BEST PEOPLE at Fonecta

Selling locally and globally

Best Seller Competition

Contents 4

Editor’s Letter

5 12

10th anniversary of the Best Seller Competition 2019





SMErec project

Master School

International universities


Sini Jokiniemi

Sini Jokiniemi

In field sales your boots have to be made for walking Katariina Kemppi

Why do I need a LinkedIn profile? Minna Tuum

Five myths about selling Minna Tuum

From Best Seller Competition to Accountor Enterprise Henri Lähteenmäki

Firsthand experiences from Best Seller Competition Pekka Pirilä

21 24 26

Evolution of the buying journey

Ludger Schneider-Störmann

Stefan Renkema

Sales work now and in the future? Taina Auvinen

Achieving more value in customer-supplier relation by combining buying and selling methods

30 31 32 35 36

Investing in sales is oxygen for business

38 40

What can Selectionbuddy do for SMEs?

Mari Konsala-Lindstedt

Sirpa Hänti

Sales – oxygen for business Kalle Vuorio

The value of studying an MBA degree Marko Holmström

Lessons learned Joni Viitanen

Team selling – opportunities and challenges Timo Huttunen, Marko Juhannusvuori, Veera Kallioniemi

Griet Van Der Vurst, Katrien Cobbaut and Marjolein Feys

Succesful recruitment processes – prerequisites for successful business

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42 44

Hidden jobs – how to find them? Anu Lehtinen

Exploiting the knowledge and competence gained within a project in the productization and sales of training


INTENSE Full run

48 50

Tasting beer and boosting your international experience?

Arja-Irene Tiainen and Jaana Tolkki

Helena Rantanen

Annette Ammeraal

Sales excellence at BusinessAcademy

INTENSE project and Business Academy

Emmanuel Querrec and Jonas Bezzour

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 2019

Editorial board: Sini Jokiniemi Elli Sillanpää Jaana Kallio-Gerlander Aino Lindroos

Cover photo: Tomi Parkkonen Layout: Hiiop Media

Journal of Excellence in Sales



Editor’s Letter Sini Jokiniemi Principal Lecturer at TUAS, Best Seller Competition 2019 Director The joy of selling was in the air when Best Seller Competition celebrated its 10th anniversary in Turku on April 11th, 2019. Professional BtoB selling is not a walk in the park – we still need to work on underlining the complexity of skills and attitudes a successful salesperson needs to succeed in the marketplace. Those of us who have done selling know this already, but those who have not tried to challenge themselves in sales may not give sales the credit it deserves. Selling is like acting in improv and jumping into a role where you just do not know what will happen, you need to rely on your own survival skills and trust yourself and the other person. This issue is my final contribution to the Journal of Excellence in Sales as the editor-in-chief. It has been a privilege to showcase sales in its various forms and to share the energy of learning, teaching, researching and doing sales both in Finland and abroad.


Pia Hautamäki (Tampere University of Applied Sciences), Sini Jokiniemi (TUAS), Minna Heikinheimo (Tampere University of Applied Sciences)

Happy judges of the final round of Best Seller Competition 2019. Photo: Eerika Halminen.

Journal of Excellence in Sales


10th anniversary of the Best Seller Competition 2019 Sini Jokiniemi Principal lecturer at TUAS The annual and national Best Seller Competition offers a platform for bachelor-level 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 10th anniversary competition was arranged at Turku University of Applied Sciences (TUAS) on April 11th, 2019.

encourages future sales students to participate in the competition:

The main cooperation partner was Fonecta and all participating students had practiced to sell Fonecta’s Kontakti service. The other partners enabling the competition were Elisa, Canon, Accountor Enterprise, If Insurance Company, Academic Work, OP Turun Seutu, Sales and Marketing Professionals, head judge Precedo Consulting and Mercuri International in the role of a sales booster.

In the following pages you have the opportunity to read what working life has offered for the earlier winners of the Best Seller Competition.

“It’s absolutely a great experience! The competition day will boost everyone’s confidence to take the stage and to believe in what you are doing. It is great to show your skills to judges and future employers who are interested in young sales professionals.”

The competitors (altogether 24 students) represented the best of class of their own universities of applied sciences: TUAS, HaagaHelia (HH), Tampere (TAMK), Jyväskylä (JAMK) and Kaakkois-Suomi (XAMK). After an exciting final round the judges had a tough job to select the Best Seller for 2019 to be announced in the evening gala. The competition warmly congratulates Best Seller 2019 Roope Rytkönen from Haaga-Helia! His selling style and beautiful interaction with the buyer convinced both the judges and the audience. Winning the competition has been my greatest personal professional achievement so far. It feels like my studies in Haaga-Helia’s sales programme have reached a well-deserved conclusion, Roope describes. In sales work the best part for Roope is meeting new people, understanding business processes and logic, creating value and in the best scenario a long-term co-operation with the customer. Roope

Journal of Excellence in Sales

Best Seller 2019 Roope Rytkönen. Photo: Hannika Photography.



2018 Jimi Hellstedt I won in April 2018. The biggest thing the competition gave me was an awesome experience that will be nice to remember in the future. As in sport, the competition itself was just the mountain peak. For the competition, we trained sales situations and tactics many evenings in the Haaga-Helia campus classrooms together with the other competitors Hanna, Eemeli and Lauri, not forgetting our coach Pirjo Pitkäpaasi and assistant coaches, former Best Seller competitors of Haaga-Helia. There are many great memories left of the competition, but the best memory was definitely the situation when you heard your name announced as the winner. I knew my own performance well, but there was a tough quartet in the finals and the differences were really small between us. Although I have gotten many useful tips for working life from our sales studies, the Best Seller Competition coaching and competition itself opened my eyes to sales work for real. The biggest insights were how to carefully consider the issues you want to know about the customer’s situation and how important it is to genuinely listen to the customer’s challenges and to take the right issues to present as the solution. Although the product and the customer change, this basis of Best Seller applies to every customer negotiation when selling to customers a value based solution. The sales competition gives you a truly valuable experience for the future, as well as a very concise idea of ​​how the goal-oriented sales negotiations with the customer take place. I can warmly recommend participating in the Best Seller Competition. This competition also helps you to stand out in the labour market. The cliché “good salespeople are always in demand” is quite true and many companies are interested in recruiting in this competition. I am the living proof that competition the competition truly offers you a competitive edge. Although this is a competition, I think everyone who is going to challenge him/herself to this competition is already a winner.


2017 Alina Venermo It’s been almost two years since I won the Best Seller Competition in 2017. I still remember it like yesterday. I was so excited and so nervous. When my name was called and it was time to enter the competition room, my heart was beating faster than ever before. The competition was an enriching experience, which I can look back on with a smile on my face. Furthermore, the atmosphere and the people made the day special. After the competition, I felt extremely motivated and confident. I have many good memories and I still keep in touch with people I met at the competition. The sales courses of the spring semester turned out to be the best courses of my studies. In addition, I was happy to notice that my studies in Industrial Engineering and Management can give me an advantage when doing sales! Now that I am an entrepreneur and a CEO of a small and spicy website company, I’ve had the possibility to put my sales skills to good use. Listening to the customer, setting goals to yourself and understanding the sales processes and methods give a great base to entrepreneurship. Since the website is nowadays one of the most powerful sales and marketing channels, I can put my sales skills to use when planning the design and content of a website. Our main goal at Folcan is to help other companies to increase their sales through internet and social media. This allows me to develop my sales skills every day. I suggest participating in the Best Seller Competition for everyone. You get to challenge yourself and to try what B2B sales can be like in reality. In addition, you learn more about yourself as a professional seller and throughout the competition day, you have the possibility to meet amazing people and grow your network. It is a great experience for anyone who is interested in professional sales. There are a few tips that I can give. Practice, fail, get up and practice even harder – by yourself and with your fellow students, and don’t be afraid to share tips! Organize your routine, make good questions and think about possible arguments and reactions. In addition, a very simple but important tip: remember to smile! By smiling, you can hide your nervousness and you might even feel less nervous yourself.

Journal of Excellence in Sales


2016 Salla Pantsar I won the Best Seller Competition in 2016, almost three years ago. My participation in the race was not a matter of course, because I was thinking about participation to the competition for a long time. Finally, I was encouraged and decided to put myself out there. Making it to the school team was a great achievement for me. On the competition day, the information about entering the finals seemed unrealistic, and all that happened after that was crazy! I received tremendous feedback on my performance! Many significant partners came to give their feedback, some orally and some later in writing. It took a long time to chew on this feedback. I couldn’t believe that my performance was really worthy of all these praise. I didn’t even have time to close the deal before the time limit expired! The Best Seller Competition offered me a great path to researching my own strengths and weaknesses. After the competition, I pondered on my performance critically. What went well? What did not? As a result, the Best Seller Competition gave me a great deal of selfconfidence and certainty that things can and have to be done in your own style.

The general interest around the competition seems to have increased year by year. If I were studying, I wouldn’t think for a moment of participating the Best Seller Competition. I can’t quickly find a better opportunity for young people to introduce their skills to a large number of representatives of different companies. A few tips for next year’s competitors: 1. Do it in your own style! Dare to break the normal way of doing things. 2. LISTEN, don’t be too eager to push your own presentation but remember to listen. Let the situation take you and lead the conversation in the direction you want when the situation is right. 3. Make summaries. Gather up your conversation and make sure you both understand things as well.

My best memory of the competition is the small talk at the beginning of the semifinal race with Canon CEO Harry Nyström or Pärre. I asked Pärre how the spring has been, to which I received the response: ‘’It has gone well, but I have had a little challenging time with my wife’’. Quite a freezing answer. It couldn’t be answered in the usual way, “nice to hear!”. I couldn’t laugh and I had to play it cool. The tension disappeared, the performance hit the bull’s-eye and I got a place in the final. I wouldn’t have guessed that we’d be working in the same company later. Thank you Pärre! From the competition experience, a basis of a good sales meeting was beaten up to the spine. I still use this basis weekly in my own work, of course adapted to the situations. The competition also gave a good experience of etiquette in different occasions (such as the competition situation and the Evening Gala). Of course, I also later found myself in a great workplace.

Journal of Excellence in Sales



2015 Wilma Vilen I won the competition in 2015, so four years ago. I got a permanent job from Canon as an Account Manager. In addition, I got a great experience of a negotiation situation under pressure. My best memory of the competition is a hesitant feeling when my name was mentioned in the award ceremony. The competition was my best experience in the whole university of applied sciences and provided a good basis for the right B2B negotiations. Also in my current role as Senior Consultant, I need the skills I have learned in the competition so they have been really valuable. Participating in the competition is definitely worth it and you should invest in it. Even if you do not win, you get good experience, visibility and the opportunity to get job offers. On the competition day, there is also the opportunity to network with students and business representatives. Be yourself, let your personality come forward and trust your instincts. In the competition, it is worth thinking that this is an ordinary customer meeting, which makes the tension a bit easier. Think about what you want to achieve and keep your goals clear in your mind throughout the competition. Good luck to the competition! Be sure to enjoy every moment and if you win, remember to celebrate!

2014 Juho Ojama I was honoured to be the winner in 2014. The competition gave me a clear idea of ​​what customer-oriented sales and sales meetings mean. It laid the foundation on which I started to build my own salesperson’s identity and my way of doing sales. I definitely got self-confidence and confidence in my own doing from the competition. The best memories of the competition are certainly from the coaching time when we spent long nights in the school’s gymnastics hall practicing and challenging each other. Afterwards, I also remember that the competition gave me a clear picture that even though I did well in the competition, I was still at the beginning of my learning path. Almost five years later, I have reached significantly further, but there is still a long way to go. I still remember the words of the Head Judge who saw my performance and said that it was self-critical but humble. He also reminded me that learning will never be completed. I had previously internalized this but I feel that the moment resonated with my own life in particular. Today, as one of the most important parts of my own development, I stop to reflect on my own activities and think about what I can do better and how I can grow and develop. I’ve gotten to take advantage of the skills of both sales and customer experience as well as sales development after the competition. I strongly support participation in the competition and self-challenge. Greetings to future competitors: Remember the joy and the celebration of success, it is right and reasonable, but be humble and remember that learning does not stop at this competition or at the school bench. If you do not succeed the way you want, be gracious to yourself and remember to forgive. I want to say to everyone: Reflect your own actions, what do I do well, where do I still have to improve? There is always something to be developed. You can always improve. I wish good luck and success to everyone! Let’s have a good fight with self-development!


Journal of Excellence in Sales


2013 Eetu Uotinen It has been over five years since the victory. Huh, how fast time has gone. I remember the competition day really well. Above all, I got self-confidence from the competition. Before I have been nervous in a lot of different situations where I have to be the centre of attention, as well as to speak to the public or a foreign person. Of course, there were other presentations during the studies that helped me develop as a speaker, but the biggest impact on my development came from the Best Seller Competition. The best memory of the competition itself is at the end of the final round of sales, when I finally got the buyer party to take it forward even though he had disagreed before. I have been able to take advantage of the lessons learnt from the competition many times at work. Participating in the competition is definitely worth it. I learned many lessons from the competition; how to proceed in different negotiation situations and how to successfully manage the objections. However, the biggest benefit I see is the rise in self-confidence like a rocket. Without this experience, I would have forever left the sales industry. You should also take part in the competition because it will definitely be of benefit to you when you apply for jobs in the future. I was called from my current and previous job and was asked for a job interview, without having any previous contact with me in any way. In both cases, the callers took part in my Best Seller Competition.

2012 Jamina Khadraoui I won the competition six years ago. I think the most important thing in the competition is that anyone can succeed in it. I was not the loudest person in the class. Moreover, there is not a stereotypical seller mould that would guarantee the win. The biggest thing for me was to compete with myself and dare to be brave. Expanding your own comfort zone is important and I think the Best Seller Competition offers an excellent, “safe” and rewarding environment for it. The competition is also a good window for working life; there you can see potential future jobs and network with top companies. I discovered through the competition an international company where I did my professional training and thesis, and I was employed directly after graduating. In real working life, situations are rarely as exciting as the competition. After the competition, the feeling was that I could survive the press. With your own interaction skills and guiding questions you can manage well both in the competition and working life. Self-confidence takes long and sometimes you need a “fake it till you make it” attitude. The biggest lesson learnt was that, despite a strange industry, things can be learned quickly. It is definitely bold to participate. A truly valuable experience that will open new doors and can have a significant impact on your career path. It is worthwhile to take everything out of the experience and to throw yourself in with an open mind.

Remember to be yourself. It always works better than the role played. Go and enjoy a memorable day!

Journal of Excellence in Sales



2011 Ilkka Suomaa Although it has been 7 years since my Best Seller Competition, this course, pre-qualification and competition day are still clearly in my mind. As early as the first year of my studies, it was clear to me that I was taking part in the Best Seller Competition and the purpose was to test my own skills. Feedback from my own tutors and senior students on this competition was positive and seeing the performances of the previous year HaagaHelia students impressed me. The competition was the first proper opportunity for me to train B2B sales skills with myself for a completely new product / solution. Although later my own style of selling, working with customers and solving their problems has changed and developed, the Best Seller Competition gave good ground skills and above all, self-confidence to make demanding B2B solutions. In the competition we had to be able to live in a constantly changing negotiating situation and listen carefully to every word of the customer. With the 20-minute time limit and need assessment from point zero, the situation is hectic. These same skills still need to be utilized at work today.

I recommend to everyone who is interested in selling or studying it to participate in the Best Seller Competition. It does not only provide you with good skills in sales and customer service, but it is also a great opportunity to network for future working life. I know many of my own study fellows have found their first B2B sales job through the competition, and at the same time, many internships have opened with the contacts created in the competition. Moreover, even though the competition does not seem to be your thing, the Best Seller Competition is also a great school for any job that requires negotiation and communication skills. Good luck and success for all participants of the Best Seller Competition. Make the most of the event!

I have two good memories of the competition day itself: The first is the Crusade matches played with my sparring partner Heikki Silvennoinen when waiting for my turn in the finals. That helped me to relax and not to think too much about the coming final negotiation. Another memory is the comic situation in the final, where during my first 5 minutes I looked at my watch without losing 30 times before the person who appeared to be the buyer told me, “Are you in a hurry for something?� Somehow, that little humorous moment in the middle of the competition helped me forget that it was a competition against time and I was able to concentrate on the performance itself, which then made a profit.


Journal of Excellence in Sales


2010 Mikko Junkkari I won the very first Best Seller Competition in 2010. The competition has developed a lot over the years, but the difficulty of the first competition was that the video recording from the competition room to the auditorium did not work. Then the final was held in the auditorium in front of the audience. With this, it is a remarkable experience to give your own performance in front of the live audience. It was an exciting situation and absolutely a wonderful memory. Secondly, I remember the winner announcement: when my name was announced and I somehow understood that I won the competition. The competition has given a huge amount of self-confidence and opportunities for working life. In fact, the same day I won the competition, I signed a contract with Telia. I was practicing at Telia at that time, so the competition alone may not have brought the contract but I believe that it had an additional impact. Moreover, I got other interesting job offers with the competition. I also got an indication that of course you have won something, but you have also been able to show your expertise at the event, where all the sponsors and other stakeholders are involved in the role they play as potential employers in the future. I have definitely gotten to use the skills learned from the Best Seller Competition later in professional life. What is actually done in the competition is just about the daily work of the seller and I do the same in my daily work. Therefore, in practice, after my win, I went to work and I repeated the sales process in my daily work. One concrete example of the benefits of competition was that, in the job interview process of my current employer, Gartner, one part of their recruiting process was a short role-playing game in the same style as Best Seller Competition with a written sales agenda. The competition also provided a good backbone for how to get through the meetings and what are the key elements of the meeting, which are then repeated in the seller’s work every single weekday.

In spring 2019, I will also try to get to Turku to watch the competition after a few years’ break. I still want to be involved in the competition in some way. From the participant’s point of view, the competition is an incredible opportunity to mirror the skills learned at school in the context of working life, because what is being done in the competition is largely what is needed in working life. If there is such a chance to go through the evaluation and get some feedback and development suggestions, then I have to recommend the competition for every student! Best Seller is a great event, a great concept. First of all, I start by congratulating all the students who have chosen to join the competition. It already tells of a kind of courage and respect for one’s own professionalism and a desire to develop one’s own skills. A bold trick to go to the big audience for evaluation. Secondly, I would like to say that this is a “one-time opportunity” for every competitor and I would like to encourage you to put everything in the game and show your professionalism. The competition is an insane opportunity to develop, but also to be seen by working life partners. In addition, I know many of the winners who have been very well employed and sought after the competition and have been successful in their own work. I have also recommended competitors forward to colleagues and our own HR department. I wish good luck and success to the future competitions!

It’s worth it, absolutely! I have answered this question several times before and I have also been in some Best Seller Competitions as a judge.

Journal of Excellence in Sales



In field sales, your boots have to be made for walking Katariina Kemppi Communications Planner, Fonecta Jonna Nenonen has worked as an Account Manager at Fonecta for more than 2.5 years. How did Jonna end up in sales, how do salespeople manage their client portfolios nowadays, what kind of a person makes a good salesperson and what is a typical day in sales? We talked to Jonna during her hectic workday about these topics and a few others.

People buy from people After graduating from high school, Jonna applied for business school but when she didn’t get in at first go, she decided not to lay low but instead spent a year gathering experiences working the till at a local supermarket. Without much other experience from sales, except the time at the supermarket in August 2014, Jonna found herself working at telesales at a company called Vilperi, selling websites for small businesses. On the side, she helped her colleagues succeed in sales. When Vilperi was sold in December 2015, Jonna ended up at Fonecta and has stayed with us ever since. At first, she continued working in telesales but in August 2016, she moved on to field sales. “People always buy from people. Because I have an open and cheerful personality, I think I’m more suited for negotiating face to face than on the phone. Working with people gives me great pleasure and I get to help companies build their overall marketing strategy”, Jonna explains.

In her portfolio, Jonna carries all sorts of clients from different industries, which she sees as a positive thing. Geographically most of her customers are situated in the west of Finland. The more unfamiliar she is with the industry the more she ends up asking about her customer’s business, their goals and line of business. As a salesperson, you learn a lot about different industries but you should never assume you know anything about a new customer. Instead, you have to go over each customer’s goals separately. A starting point for successful selling is a true interest in your customer’s business and their goals.

Attend to all your customers individually Even though Fonecta offers clear and detailed reports of their campaigns and services that the customers can follow independently, it is often more fruitful to go over them together with the customer. “I think it is important to ask the customer how often they want me to contact them. This way we are on the same page with the customer in terms Jonna Nenonen. Photo: Tomi Parkkonen.

“Trust is something you build by being open and honest, not shying away from the difficult things. You have to inform the customer about all things, the good as well as the bad. ” 12

Journal of Excellence in Sales


of contacting. With some customers, I meet a few times a year but then with others, we can be in contact every other month. In between meetings I may call just to see how they’re doing without any intent on selling”, Jonna concludes.

“That’s a clear benefit of working in a big company. Even though I’m responsible for my own work, I’m never alone. I always have the support of my team leader as well as the team and our experts”, Jonna smiles.

Customers often contact Jonna directly, too. Building trust between a client and a salesperson is in Jonna’s eyes the most important thing in the relationship. “Trust is something you build by being open and honest, not shying away from the difficult things. You have to inform the customer about all things, the good as well as the bad. If we have made a mistake with something I will contact the customer immediately and we will fix it”, Jonna explains and continues: “On the other hand, I’ve managed to use my wide network of connections and I’ve been able to help my customers in unexpected situations. I’ve for example managed to help one customer finding a temp help agency.”

Sales is for the hard-working and independent

Being in charge of planning the week Jonna has certain routines that are part of all work weeks, but she is free to plan her work as she sees fit. On Mondays she books new customers, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are for meeting customers and Fridays she spends at the office taking care of paperwork. “We have a weekly solutions workshop with the team where we go over different, more complex cases and find solutions for them together. At the same time, we share success stories as well“, Jonna says. Jonna has about 10 meetings with customers per week. Sometimes her team leader comes with her, sometimes an expert on online advertising joins the meeting, but mostly her work is independent. A salesperson has to keep a tight grip on all the lines so that the whole package stays together.

In general, only the sky is the limit when it comes to selling. How much you get done is up to your own activity level, and so is your salary. Working hard and doing well shows directly in your income. You get far by using your common sense but other qualities obviously help too. “I think this job is best suited for people who have high energy, are positive, will strive to find a solution and like to plan their own schedule. You have to be ready to adapt and to develop yourself all the time. You should also be forever interested in the business of companies in various industries. You rarely close a deal just by presenting the features of different products or services – you need to bring your personality forward to make it”, Jonna advises. Sometimes in sales, you have less successful periods and if you try too hard, you might go through a dry spell. You can prepare yourself for these moments but the most important thing is to keep your energy level high. “You have to remember that this is just a job and it doesn’t help if you keep stressing when things aren’t going well. You have to do your best at all times and since you work in field sales, you need to keep moving. Success feeds success, so you can’t become discouraged”, Jonna says. Jonna is proud to tell she works in sales and she says sales is one of the guiding forces of our company. Companies survive only by selling their services and products so the influence between sales and a company’s success is direct. This thought guides Jonna in her work every day.

Journal of Excellence in Sales



Why do I need a LinkedIn profile? Minna Tuum Content Manager, Fonecta LinkedIn is one of the fastest growing social media channels in Finland. There are over 1.2 million Finns with a LinkedIn profile and as a recruitment channel and a professional network, it is without a doubt the channel to be in. Fonecta is the only official LinkedIn marketing partner in Finland, so we know what makes LinkedIn such an efficient channel for both advertisers and professionals. In LinkedIn, you will find your colleagues, your classmates and your future employers. It is also a channel for developing your skills, for in LinkedIn you will find articles, videos and podcasts related to all the topics related to work and academic development. Today’s recruiters look for new talents in LinkedIn, so even if you’re still a student and not yet working, it pays off to be prepared and have a profile ready. We’ve collected a few tips on how to build an effective LinkedIn profile so that when you’re ready to enter the job market, your profile will help you catch the eye of potential employers.

1. How to get started Go to and start by creating an account. Make sure your profile is open to everyone, so enable your profile visibility.

2. Add a professional photo LinkedIn profiles with a photo are 14 times more likely to be viewed. Make sure you have a clear photo that shows who you are and what you look like. LinkedIn is not a channel for fun holiday pics or unidentifiable photos – people looking at your profile will want to know the true you. You don’t need a professional photographer to take the picture; you will get a high quality photo with your phone.


As well as the profile picture, pay attention to the header image. This can relate to something you’re interested in on inspired by, but again keep it professional. The purpose of the header image is to visually enhance your profile to reflect your unique professional brand.

3. Write an attention-grabbing headline Explain what it is you do, show your passion and value. The purpose of the headline is to show in just a few words your profession and what makes you tick. This will help you stand out from others so pay attention to what it is you’re telling about yourself.

4. Draft a compelling summary Profile summary is an overview of your professional experience, including your current position and location as well as previous experience and education. The summary can be 30 words or more, but make sure you don’t include buzzwords, as this will make you less personal and less desirable to recruiters. Focus on career accomplishments.

5. Detail your past work experience This is the section where you can really bring your talent to the fore. List your most important jobs and if you’re a student, then you can start by listing all your internships and summer jobs, as this will show recruiters that you’re active and interested in developing yourself. Profiles with more than one position listed are 12 times more likely to be viewed. When you get more professional experience, you can delete some of these earlier jobs but when you’re starting out even these smaller jobs will be important to show.

Journal of Excellence in Sales


6. Add skills and get endorsements Here you can show what you’re good at and what you’ve learned, so list all the skills you think are relevant to your future career and get your colleagues to endorse you. Include a mix of high level and niche skills, as this will show the variety of what you’re good at. Make sure you endorse your colleagues as well – this will make them more likely to endorse you back!

7. Connect with your peers The wider your network the better. As in so many other social networks, it’s usual to connect to people you know; in LinkedIn that would be your colleagues, bosses, people you’ve gone to school with. Unlike in other social media channels, here the people you know can be clients or associates

“Remember to be active”. you’ve met in a meeting or negotiated with. So a deep personal relationship is not something you necessarily need in order to connect in LinkedIn.

If you don’t yet have job experience make sure you connect to your fellow students, as they will be the people you’ll work with or who’ll hire you in the future.

8. Be active Social media by definition is designed for activity. LinkedIn is a channel designed for professionals so here you will find content that you’re interested in and that will make you grow as a professional. Remember to be active – this will build your professional profile and make you more interesting to potential employers and help you stand out. A great way to be active in LinkedIn is to join groups you’re interested in, follow discussions, like and share postings and engage in discussions. You can also write blogs in LinkedIn pulse and share them for your network. You can add more sections to your profile as your experience and skills develop and grow. Get recommendations from you colleagues and bosses, write blog posts and share them to your followers. As your professional history grows, so will your LinkedIn profile. Be brave and have fun!

Photo: Tomi Parkkonen.

As Finland’s only LinkedIn marketing partner, Fonecta knows how best to build your profile and make the most of it.

Journal of Excellence in Sales



Five myths about selling Minna Tuum Content Manager, Fonecta Fonecta is known for a strong sales organization but from time to time, we run into prejudices regarding selling as a profession. The era of a crooked salesrep sitting in a dingy office in a mishmash of worn furniture is long gone, if it ever even existed. Today’s salespeople at least at Fonecta are experts in the field of digital marketing and their main aim is to be a true partner with their client. Here are five lingering myths that are still connected to the profession – is there any truth to them?

our clients. New salespeople go through an intensive training period before starting to contact customers. They have the support of their team leaders and colleagues, as well as our other training teams. Salespeople get continuous feedback on how they’re performing, tips on how to improve themselves and they are rewarded for their successes handsomely. One indication on how well our people work together is their willingness to share best practice tips and celebrating each other’s successes.

1. Salespeople are all untrustworthy

3. Salespeople are being taken advantage of

One thing you often hear about salespeople is that they can’t be trusted and that they will do anything to close a deal. It is such a shame that a few bad apples have tarnished the reputation of the profession, since at least at Fonecta we work hard to make sure we always have our customer’s best interest at heart. Salespeople are experts in the field of digital marketing and we always make sure we know what our customers’ needs are before offering a solution. For example, our customer might think they need Google advertising, but we want to make sure what problem they want to solve by advertising before closing the deal. Sometimes what the customer needs and what they want are two different things and it is the job of the experienced salesperson to find the best solution.

Which brings us to myth number 3. It is often thought that salespeople are working almost in sweatshops just making money for the company and not receiving much compensation themselves. This may be true in some companies, but at Fonecta there really is no limit to how well you can do if

2. Salespeople are thrown into the deep end without proper training This is also an unfortunate image, a salesperson sitting behind a desk with a sales manuscript to follow and not much information on what it is that they’re selling. We make sure our salespeople are well acquainted with the services we offer 16

“So if you’re looking for a cozy job with not much to do, then sales is clearly not for you. . you’re willing to put in the effort and do well. The one thing that most confuses people about sales is that salespeople really do have to perform well all the time. So if you’re looking for a cozy job with not much to do, then sales is clearly not for you. Salespeople have to reach specific targets each month but on the other hand, if they’re having a good month there’s no limit to how much they can sell and be rewarded accordingly. Therefore, the salary of a salesperson really does depend on their willingness to perform. With training and help from the team and your boss you can succeed, and most of our people really do.

Journal of Excellence in Sales


4. Poor working conditions You can just picture it, can’t you? The seedy office in the backlot of a bust down building in an industrial area somewhere in the middle of nowhere… Well, this is a myth that is easy to revoke. Our offices in the five cities we operate in are airy and spacious, modern with electronic workstations to maximize working ergonomics. We offer all our personnel flexible working hours and the chance to work from home, and with lunch and exercise benefits we make sure people will thrive both professionally as well as in their free time. We celebrate special occasions like Valentine’s Day or Halloween with fun free-for-all happenings. Every team has their own budget to spend together as they see fit – having a picnic, going to the theatre, maybe having a sports day or just going out for a meal.

5. Selling as a profession is not valued

like for example a doctor or lawyer, our people are proud to tell they work at sales for Fonecta. The relationship between a salesperson and a customer is that of two experts planning the best possible outcome that will help the customer’s business to grow. Whether you’re working at telesales or in the field, you will build a relationship with your customer and be their marketing expert who helps find the best solutions for every problem. This is a long-time relationship built on trust, openness and results.

Should I considers sales as a profession?

If you’re interested in digital marketing, are keen on developing your skills and aren’t afraid to work hard but also be rewarded royally for your efforts then you’ll truly enjoy working at Fonecta’s sales. Check out our open positions or leave an open application at

While selling as a profession might not be universally considered a highly valued profession

Johanna Kuusisto. Photo: Tuomas Leinonen

Johanna works in telesales at Fonecta’s office in Pori. Her sunny disposition makes both her coworkers’ and customers’ day a sunny one!

Journal of Excellence in Sales



From Best Seller Competition to Accountor Enterprise

Henri Lähteenmäki

Henri Lähteenmäki Customer Success Manager, Accountor Enterprise Solutions Last spring I was preparing my sales script for the upcoming Best Seller Competition school qualifiers. After being selected as one of the four students for the Competition, we started to practise even harder. I bet that if I had been awakened in the middle of night, I would still have been able to tell every single word of the evaluation form. As the days and weeks went by, we kept training: studying Vainu as a company, preparing and figuring out the answers for the possible questions that could come up in the Competitions sales meeting. Hours and hours of hard work, studying and practising. Going through the same script over and over again, trying to make it work even better. Then the Best Seller Competition day finally came. I was nervous, I bet we all were. Students from different schools, competitors. All in the same room. Waiting to be called to the room where you would be able to show everyone how the hard work pays off, in the Competition as well as in real life. Four rooms and six competitors each. I was the fifth in my room. Felt like I’d been waiting my turn forever . Fifteen minutes. That’s all the time that I spent in the room. That was all the time that I had to shine like a rising star to convince the jury with my sales skills. I was relieved after I left the room and headed to the waiting room. Less than an hour after my turn, I felt someone’s hand on my shoulder. I turned around and saw the Accountor Enterprise Head of Sales, Jari Pakarinen. He gave me his business card and told me to call if I would be interested in talking about the career options they could offer me.


While practising for the competition, I was asked if I would be interested in moving to Helsinki if I got a job offer. I quickly replied that no, I wouldn’t be moving. Little did I know and a few months later, I packed my stuff and moved. Now I’m working as Customer Success Manager at Accountor Enterprise Solutions in Espoo. Accountor specializes in software solutions and outsourcing services for financial, HR, ICT and business professionals. The group employs more than 2,500 experts, in seven countries. Our mission is to help our customers use the possibilities of modern technology and digitalization in their everyday work. We operate in Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Russia, and Ukraine. Seamless business solutions in the cloud drive your growth in the future together with digital workspace solutions and excellent data security. Working as the Customer Success Manager at Accountor Enterprise, I help customers to choose the optimal CRM and ERP for their business. My focus area is to work with existing customers on the Dynamics 365 platform. In my daily job, I’m making sure that our customers are satisfied with the chosen platform and our services. The view on the overall management of the customer relationship and on the improvement of the quality of the services has always interested me, and I couldn’t think anything better to work with. Working as the Customer Success Manager at Accountor Enterprise requires extensive expertise about the platforms and services, but also the ability to listen more closely to our customers’

Journal of Excellence in Sales


needs. After working for nearly eight years with the customers, I believe that I will be working with the customers for years to come, developing modern customer relationships and ensuring the quality of service in different ways. From the Best Seller Competition I didn’t only learn sales skills that I use in daily life. It also gave me

plenty of new connections from different companies and industries. In addition, it also gave me a job offer that after all made me to move. Leaving the comfort zone and working hard for the dreams paid off big time and I would highly recommend everyone to try it.

First-hand experiences from the Best Seller Competition

Pekka Pirilä

Pekka Pirilä Market Development Trainee at Mercuri International; Bachelor of Business Administration, Laurea University of Applied Sciences I participated in the Best Seller Competition as a third-year student in the spring of 2018. It was actually the first time that Laurea UAS took part in the competition and that is why I did not know what to expect. Although at that time I had no previous experience in BtoB selling, for some peculiar reason I thought it might be fun. Thus, I wanted to give it a go and to see how I would perform in the competition. I am writing this article half a year after the competition. When I think back to the competition and the course before it, they were easily the best and most educative events during my studies. First, we learnt the theories; second, we got tips from the gurus in the field (special thanks to our Lecturer Ritva Jäättelä and our coaches Jani Aaltonen, Jukka

Aminoff, Esko Reinonpoika Alanko, Sani Leino and Mika D. Rubanovitsch); third, we took all our experiences and learning to an ultimate pressure test in the competition. That is an experience you do not get to have that often. In the competition, you walk in a negotiation room and take a seat by a table. One person is sitting in front of you and there are microphones on the table. You also recognize judges sitting on your side who are taking notes and a video camera recording everything. It was so nerve-wracking that my knees were trembling. All in all, although it was a simulated negotiation and you only had 20 minutes of time, the competition offered good perspectives on a real-

Journal of Excellence in Sales



life sales meeting. E.g. the structure of the sales discussions, the most important aspects, the critical things when doing a needs assessment and what kind of things to stress when proposing a solution for the customer. After the competition, I have participated in several business meetings. I have acknowledged many similarities between the competition and a reallife meeting and most importantly, I have noticed that all the things I learned in relation to the competition have helped me in real life. In addition, I have also observed that many long-standing professionals have actually forgotten many basic things – small but big things that were taught to us. I have also noticed that real meetings are not as exciting as in the competition; this may be due to the fact that there are no judges and cameras sitting next to you. Already during the competition, I paid attention to the high standard of the students competing in the competition. Now that I have seen ‘real’ salespeople in action, I have to say that perhaps they would not have done as well in the competition as the students. It is a tough statement but I believe it to be true.

What has happened after the competition? I finished my bachelor’s thesis related to prospects in BtoB sales, graduated and was recruited to the best possible “sales school”, Mercuri International. I work as a lead generator, which means that I offer potential customer contacts to our consultants – be it totally new customers or opportunities to sell more to our existing customers. I mainly utilize marketing tools and social tools in generating the leads. Lead generating is not sales as such but it contains several skills that are needed in selling. I would like to offer thanks to the competition organizers for the opportunity that you give to students. This is a ‘once in a lifetime experience’ that gives a student a lot more than you could ever imagine. I strongly recommend anyone to take part in the competition because it is simply the kind of an experience that you do not want to miss. You will learn a lot and you get to network with amazing people. In addition, you never know what the competition will bring; you may even get a job offer!

What did I gain from participating in the competition? • • • • •


I learned a huge deal of BtoB sales I gained experience to help me succeed in my current job I understand how to ‘dig’ into customer’s problems and how a service should be offered in a way that it meets the customer’s needs I was able to take myself into uncharted waters, to really challenge myself and to surpass my own expectations of my skills I got to network with exciting people who will definitely grow into real sales professionals in the future

Journal of Excellence in Sales


Evolution of the buying journey Stefan Renkema Senior Lecturer of Sales & Marketing at HAN University of Applied Sciences, the Netherlands “It is not the strongest that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” (Darwin)

Introduction Recent years have seen the regular publication of articles that announce the seeming end of the sellers trade. The general trend in these publications is that the customers have less and less need for sellers, because they can find more and more online of what they want and need to know to make a good purchasing decision. The world has indeed evolved rapidly in recent years, from a predominantly offline world to a predominantly online one. This same evolution can also clearly be seen in the business world. We can no longer imagine the business world without the internet, and this leads many to ask what value the seller still has. The outcomes of this research offer hope for the seller. As befits a real evolution, this one seems to offer many opportunities, especially for sellers who know how to adapt. Buyers indicate that they expect to need sellers ‘more’, not ‘less’. They are actually more optimistic about this than the sellers themselves. Moreover, buyers would prefer to involve sellers ‘earlier’ rather than ‘later’ in their buying journey. The move buyers make towards ‘online’ purchasing seems less motivated by the online availability of the information they are looking for, and more by the fact that many sellers do not have the right knowledge and skills to add value earlier in the buying journey.

Evolution of the buying journey The way buyers and sellers interact with each other during both the buying and customer journeys is developing rapidly. In particular, the way the seller as a person adds value to this process is constantly changing. Where sellers used to be seen as an unparalleled source of information, the digital revolution has shifted that power balance. Research by Wotruba confirms this (r)evolution. Based on a comprehensive study of sales vacancies, sales literature and developments in the seller environment, he has identified five stages in the evolution of personal sales: provider, persuader, prospector, problem-solver and procreator.

knowledge by examining the evolution of personal contact in the buying journey, from the perspective of Dutch and Flemish B2B buyers as well as from the perspective of sellers of strategic products and services. A total of 180 respondents completed the questionnaire. We hope the results will contribute in three different ways to the existing knowledge about the buying journey made by buyers of products and/or services with a high financial impact, also called strategic products/services. 1. Instead of focusing on the US like much research, this study looks specifically at the Netherlands and Belgium. 2. Most studies only interview one group: the buyers or the sellers. We questioned both groups simultaneously. 3. Where much of the research looks at the increasing digital influence that ‘digital’ has on the buying journey, our study focuses on the role of ‘people’, the role of the seller as a person in that buying journey. Are buyers making such a strong move to ‘digital’ simply because a lot can be found online? Or is it more nuanced? Might buyers be looking online not because they necessarily want to, but because the sellers they encounter there can offer more of what they are looking for? And thus, are they searching online out of some kind of necessity? This is what we asked ourselves when we began this study. In addition, along those same lines, how clear of an image do sellers have of their buyers? You can read the results below.

Defining the buying journey Numerous definitions of the buying journey are in circulation. Although they differ in the terminology they use, they all begin from the so-called ‘awareness phase’, the phase in which the buyer is (or becomes) aware of their buying needs. During the interviews with sellers and buyers, we found another phase before the awareness phase: one in which the buyer’s need is latent. We therefore added the latent phase to the buying journey that was key to our research.

Where do the buyers get their information?

Digital versus Human Although many articles have been published about the success factors in the buyer–seller relationship, relatively little research has addressed the influence of digitalization on the added value of personal contact in the buying journey. This research aims to contribute to the existing

Journal of Excellence in Sales



When asked which sources of information they currently use when gathering information, buyers unsurprisingly answered that Google is important. The same applies to their personal networks and events such as trade fairs and seminars. There is a striking difference between buyers’ and sellers’ perceptions of the use of social media as a source of information: more than 81% of sellers expected buyers to use social media as a source of information, while the buyers said this is true in ‘only’ 56% of cases. This difference is even larger in Belgium (89% versus 27%). There is another striking difference between buyers and sellers in terms of the sellers themselves as a source of information: sellers indicate that buyers see them as a source of information in “only” 74% of cases, while buyers indicate this is true in 94% of cases.

And in the coming five years? An important difference concerns the expected use of social media over the next five years. Although the majority (64%) of buyers expect to use social media more, they are much more cautious about this than the surveyed sellers: 81% of them expect buyers to be using more social media in the next five years. Only 36% of the Flemish buyers expect to make more use of social media. A second striking difference concerns the role that trade fairs and seminars will play as a source of information for buyers five years from now. Many sellers (44%) believe that buyers will use this source less, while “only” 14% of the buyers themselves believe this is true. In fact, 30% of the buyers expect to make more use of these sources in the next five years.

Forms of personal contact The results show that buyers and sellers from the Netherlands and Belgium consider face-to-face contact to be a form of personal contact. A phone call was also seen as a form of personal contact by the majority


of buyers (67%) and sellers (74%). Sellers (31%) and buyers (31%) were both much less likely to view email as a form of personal contact. The same is true for contact via social media: only 25% of sellers and 11% of buyers see this as a form of personal contact. There was a striking difference between how sellers and buyers view Skype and WhatsApp/SMS. About half of all sellers see Skype (52%) and WhatsApp/SMS (46%) as a form of personal contact. However, buyers were much less likely to agree (Skype 28% and WhatsApp/SMS 19%).

When do buyers first make contact? It is striking that buyers indicate they make contact with sellers at an earlier stage in the buying journey than sellers estimate they do. The most notable about the results is the difference in phase 0, the latent phase: 19% of the buyers indicate that they are already in contact with the seller at this phase, while only 5% of sellers agree. Conversely, many sellers (25%) think that buyers will not contact them until phase 4, while only 6% of the buyers agree.

Form Buyers and sellers offered a common image about the current form of first contact: it is either face-to-face or over the phone. Interestingly, neither the sellers nor the buyers see social media as a preferred medium for making initial contact: no one in either group chose this form of contact. That is remarkable in view of all the studies showing that a large part of the buying journey is already over by the time the seller comes into the picture.

And in the coming five years? The results show that buyers generally expect they will make contact with sellers earlier in their buying journey in five years’ time. What is remarkable is the number of buyers who expect to do this in phase 0 (42%). Sellers’ estimates about buyers’ opinions also show a trend towards the earlier stages of the buying journey, but the sellers’ estimates are more modest than those of the buyers. ‘Only’ 10% of the sellers think buyers will involve them in phase 0 five years from now, as opposed to 42% of buyers. The image is the same for the Netherlands and Belgium.

Journal of Excellence in Sales


How important will the seller´s role be in five years? Both buyers and sellers expect the seller’s role to become more important in the coming years. However, sellers still rate their own role as more important than buyers do. The results also show that the increase in the seller’s importance will mainly take place in phases 0 and 1 of the buying journey. Shifts can also be observed in the later phases of the buying journey, but these shifts are not as strong. Sellers estimate buyers’ satisfaction with their skills higher than buyers do. Across all skills, the buyers’ opinions about the sellers’ skills can mainly be found along the dissatisfied – neutral – satisfied lines. The sellers estimate this opinion to be more along the lines of neutral – satisfied – very satisfied for most points. Sellers are markedly more likely to indicate they expect buyers to be dissatisfied with:

Form A small majority of buyers expect face-to-face contact to still be the dominant form of personal contact in five years’ time. A minority of sellers (49%) make that same estimate and that is significantly less than today (63%).

1) their listening skills 2) their knowledge of the client organization 3) their ability to offer new insights 4) their ability to proactively contribute ideas

What also stands out is the expectation among both sellers and buyers that the telephone will be used significantly less often when making first contact. 17% of the buyers (versus 42% today) and 13% of the sellers (versus 31% today) expect the buyer will reach for the phone to first contact a seller. Buyers (14%) and sellers (15%) expect that Skype (and similar services) will fill that gap, as will email. It is notable that some sellers (10%) think that buyers will also move towards social media when first establishing contact. However, buyers do not agree (0%).

How important is the sales person´s role now? In general, most sellers estimate that buyers view the seller’s role as important to very important in all phases of the buying journey. For example, 55% of the sellers assign themselves an important to very important role in phase 0. Buyers present a more ambiguous image of this phase: 36% of them consider the seller’s role in phase 0 to be (relatively) unimportant, but the other 64% consider the seller’s role to be important or very important. The same contradiction was found in evaluating quotes from suppliers (phase 6): 14% of the buyers consider the seller’s role to be unimportant at this stage, while 86% of them consider the seller’s role to be important to very important at this stage. In Belgium, this percentage is even higher, also in stage 6 (evaluate quotes). In the other phases of the journey, the buyers have more similar opinions and assign an important role to the sellers.

This research is an initiative of HAN University of Applied Sciences and Mercuri International and was conducted in collaboration with the the Dutch Sales Management Association, NEVI (Dutch association of buyers), and Howest Associate University of Applied Sciences and University College Ghent in Belgium.

Overall, however, the buyers consider the seller’s role to be less important in these phases than the sellers estimate themselves.

Journal of Excellence in Sales



Sales work now and in the future? Taina Auvinen Bachelor Student in Business Administration (Purchasing and Sales Management Programme) at TUAS As a part of my studies, I got to analyze interesting data that was gathered in a sales-related survey. The survey was conducted in the fall of 2018 by second-year bachelor students who contacted BtoB sales representatives in various companies. The students asked industry professionals five open-ended sales-related questions: 1) what is best in sales work, 2) what is the most challenging thing in sales, 3) what has changed in sales the most in recent years, 4) where is sales going and 5) what kind of tips the sales professionals want to offer to students. A total of 169 Finnish BtoB sales professionals were interviewed in the study, representing a versatile mix of experience years in sales, fields of business and company sizes. The respondents represented companies with personnel ranging from less than ten to more than 250 and the companies operated in the following business fields: construction, accommodation and catering, manufacturing, finance and insurance, health and social services, wholesale and retail. The respondents’ work experience in sales ranged from two to over 25 years.

What is the best thing in sales work? Customers are by far the best thing in sales. Of all the respondents, 74 people (44%) offered customers as the best part in their work. Customer satisfaction was underlined as well as how happy the customer is with the purchases. In addition, good customer encounters help to cope with adversities. Based on the answers, selling is about dealing with people and through people comes the variability and versatility of the profession. The ability to work flexibly regardless of time and place is also considered as an advantage in sales work. Sales figures and success at work are also things that give sales professionals special joy. Many also find a challenging work appealing and are energized by being able to challenge themselves for a better performance every day. Sales goals were mentioned only by four respondents among the best things in a sales work and this was based on how well the respondents can see their own impact on the company’s profit performance. I assumed there to be a larger number of answers like this, as a sales person nowadays has to act very entrepreneurially to succeed in the industry. However, I think it is a good thing that the goals do not guide the action too


Taina Auvinen

much, because it also proves that for a company, the customer and his/her needs are the most important, and not necessarily closing every sale immediately. Sales professionals also appreciated the following aspects in their work: exceeding yourself, finding the right solutions for the customer, giving more to the customer than what was originally sought from the meeting, positive feedback, adding value, market understanding and knowledge, and travel opportunities. I was able to relate with the answers well, since based on my own experience, many salespeople work for customers. Less focus is on interest in sales figures, but rather on how to succeed in customer service and customer contact.

What is challenging in sales? Interestingly, customers pop up as the best and the most challenging aspect in sales. Half of the respondents stated that customers and especially challenging negotiation situations with customers are the toughest elements in sales work.

Interestingly, customers pop up as the best and the most challenging aspect in sales. Closing sales is challenging for 15 respondents, as customers are nowadays so aware of what they want and at what cost. Nowadays, the work pressure and competition in sales work is quite tough and creates a lot of stress for the salespeople. The world is changing at a rapid pace and the seller should keep up with the situation so that he/ she can answer all the questions that concern the customer. In addition, the rhythm of sales is faster and nowadays it is no longer enough to work at the same pace as before. As consumers are more conscious and demanding, companies must be able to offer more and more alternatives. This, in turn, adds pressure to sales professionals, as product ranges and expertise must go hand in hand with this development. Only three of the respondents felt that the development of technology and their ability to keep up with it was challenging. In my opinion, this may imply that investments in software and other technological tools have been carefully planned and after implementation, the tools have

Journal of Excellence in Sales


made it easier for salespeople to work. Therefore, it is not perceived as a barrier to sales or as a complicating factor.

What has changed in sales in recent years? The biggest change affecting sales that came across in the interviews was the development of technology and the increase of its use in work environments (mentioned by 36% of respondents). In addition, customers are now more aware of the surrounding offerings and options, which is creating its own kind of challenges. New products are introduced to the market on a faster pace, and online shopping has been made so easy for customers that every purchase does not necessarily require the help of sales professionals. Surprisingly few, only five people, commented on changes in legislation. Five other respondents also felt that nothing had changed, but this was mainly because of their less than three years of work experience in the industry. According to my own experience, competition is growing in online channels together with more pressure on lowering prices. Search engines also enable both business purchasers and individual consumers to carry out product or service comparisons by themselves.

Best advice Last but not least, the respondents offered their best tips for future sales talents. Quite clearly the most important thing for a salesperson is to keep a positive attitude and to be able to receive feedback. In addition, self-development and continuous learning were also considered important. 20 percent of the respondents encouraged future salespeople to continue studies or at least to update their knowledge from time to time, as continuous learning helps to tackle the constantly changing business field. It is also important to know your customers and their business operations so that the salesperson is in a position to meet customer demands in a right and effective way. One of the respondents offered a good summary: “Have courage, put yourself out there and always be willing to learn more”.

“Have courage, put yourself out there and always be willing to learn more”.

Where is sales going? Interviewees’ views on the future of sales were quite unanimous among the respondents, regardless of how long the interviewee had been working in sales. Almost 50% of the respondents forecasted that the share of online sales will keep growing. Sales will become more comprehensive and the importance of customer service will be emphasized. However, at the same time, personal service and networking are also seen as important issues in the future.

Machines will never able to interpret a human being the same way as another human being can.

Photo: Shutterstock.

Every third respondent believed that more comprehensive sales and customer service would play a particularly important role in the future. Many people commented in their reply that, in particular, the professionalism of salespeople and its wider use in customer relationships will become a major competitive advantage. Machines will never able to interpret a human being the same way as another human being can. When customers demand more, machines may not be able to adapt to all requirements. In the future, a feature helping your company to stand out from the competition may be that your customers can easily get in contact with a salesperson, regardless of time and place, and that your customers can get experts’ answers to their problems much faster than searching for a response on the Internet and among thousands of sources of information available. Only three respondents assumed that machines will replace salespeople in the future.

Journal of Excellence in Sales



Achieving More Value in Customer-Supplier-Relation by Combining Buying and Selling Methods

Ludger Schneider-Störmann

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Ludger Schneider-Störmann Vice President of the Academic Association of Sales Engineering AASE; Faculty of Engineering, Laboratory for Technical Systems and Sales at University of Aschaffenburg, Germany This article proposes companies, who are willing to cooperate with each other in a supplier–customer relation, to use the synergy of several methods: Value Management and the combination of Kano’s method with Quality Function Deployment, known as Customer Satisfaction and Quality Function Deployment (CSQFD). The first part of this article gives an introduction to Value Management (VM), Value Analysis (VA) and Value Engineering (VE). The second section is dedicated to the combined process of CSQFD. In the final part of this article, the common parts of both methods are identified and a combined approach is shown.

1 Introduction While purchasing departments are looking for low costs, selling departments are aiming for high margins. When it comes to technical goods in Business-to-Business relations (B2B), an increasing number of companies shift their targets from theses financial goals to a wider viewpoint. Internal or external suppliers are asked to increase the value of the goods. Companies focusing on goods’ value handle this Value Management (VM). On the other hand, internal departments providing goods to other departments or many supplying companies use the Kano method to understand what the customer wants and / or use the process of Quality Function Deployment (QFD) to identify which function needs more attention in the developing or producing process to meet customers’ expectations. Still, only in few supplier–customer relations, both these methods are combined [1].


2 Value Management, Value Analysis and Value Engineering Historical Background Value Management is a management style which is especially good to mobilize people, to develop competences as well as support synergy and innovation with the target to maximize the total power of an organization [2]. VM can also be described as an organized functionoriented systematic team approach. Its main principle is to analyze the functions and costs of a product. The purpose of VM is to increase the value of a product or good by increasing the function and/or reducing the cost of the product. [3, 4]. Lawrence D. Miles first started to develop methods of VM in 1943 [5, 6]. At his company General Electric, Miles mainly focused on exchanging material and reducing the cost of products without changing the product’s functional performance. Many institutions and authors further developed VA and VE [5, 7]. Especially the German Society of Engineers, VDI, developed a comprehensive process of VA [8].

The Value Management Method A product is a technical machine, a service or even software. Within VM, VA is performed on existing parts whereas VE is used in new product design. The target of VM is to increase value. The value of products is expressed by the ratio of the fulfilment of customer’s needs and the cost induced by the use of the resources to make the product.

Journal of Excellence in Sales


The symbol is used to express that this is no equation but just showing a relation [9]. Resources can be services, material and other costs needed to generate a part. Needs are customer needs but also user’s wishes. Increasing value can be done by either a higher grade of fulfilment of needs and / or decreased use of resources (see Figure 1). Both tools, VA and VM, analyze the functions and costs of the all product parts.

Figure 1 Examples of value increase by mean of changed cost and / or fulfilment of needs (after [8], own sketch).

Value Management Explained Many purchasing departments do decrease cost only by using the ABC analysis. This approach is likely to fail as the cost reductions often come together with a decrease in quality or in function. Thus, the value and the functions must be investigated at the same time. A function is the effect of a product {or system} or of its parts {subsystems} on something. In VM the function can be defined by answering two questions: “How to do something?” and “Why using something?” For a LED display, these questions and answers can be as follows:

Table 1. Example matrix of a Value Analysis of a product (torch light).

Figure 2 Power map of the example torch light.

The power map shows F and C of each function carrier. If a function carrier has high value, it will be found in the upper left square. There, the priority of reducing cost or increasing value is lowest. Function carriers found in the lower right square have low value and corrective actions are required. The power map reveals also strength and weaknesses of the VA and VE. A list of these is found in the literature, e.g. in Fischer’s book on cost minded construction [10]. One strength of the value analysis is, that it is focussed on functions, which are wanted by the customer. Therefore, it is a customer-oriented method. This is the base of combining VM with CSQFD.

• “How to display information?”The answer is: “By using a LED display” • “Why use a LED display?” The answer is “To display information”

3 Customer Satisfaction and Quality Function Deployment (CSQFD)

This sequence can be continued to break down the product under investigation into the sub-systems and elements. Finally, all function carriers needed to manufacture the product will be listed and connected to all of their functions. A function carrier (FC) may fulfil several functions. Each FC will be ranked depending on its importance. The three major ranks are Basic Functions (B) having all the fundamental major functions, Auxiliary Functions (Aux) supporting or enabling B-functions and Additional Functions (A) interacting with the environment (supersystem) of the product. A table is created with the weighted function index for each function carrier and the related weighted costs. In the calculation process, B-functions will get the highest functional points. The Aux- and A-functions will be enumerated from highest importance (index 1) to lowest (index n). Their numerical quantitative values will be n for functions having index 1, counting downwards to 1 for the least significant An or Auxn,. B-functions’ numerical quantitative value will be n+2. An example of this calculation is given in Table 1 for a torch light. The weighted index F and the weighted costs C are based on a maximum weight of 10. F divided by C yields the value V. The power map of the product is sketched using C and F (Figure 2). From the power map, one can derive actions to increase the product value.

As listed above, Value Management is customer oriented and uses methods like the one of Kano or the Quality Function Deployment (QFD). Both methods are widely described in the literature and well established [Literature on Kano e.g. [11–13]; QFD e.g. here [14–18]. In [19], but also in [20–22] and further literature, the combination of both methods has been described.

CSQFD Explained The fundamental base of this method is the House of Quality (HoQ) as part of the QFD and Kano’s model of customer satisfaction (CS). Kano’s method is asking for the degree of fulfilment of a technical feature from the customer’s viewpoint. Mainly, there are attractive (A), onedimensional (O), must-be (M), reverse and indifferent attributes. By asking pairs of functional and dysfunctional questions, the customer selects from five potential answers. The customer can be (very much) delighted, indifferent or (very much) distracted by the presence or absence of a product feature. This provides a grade of importance for each feature. Therefore, CS is correlating a customer’s desire and the fact how much she is pleased by the degree of fulfilment.

Journal of Excellence in Sales



The HoQ is the matrix of customer requirements and the technical realization by detailed specifications. The indexed importance of each requirement is the input from the customer. For each specification, this index is multiplied with the degree of fulfilment by the selected specification item. It ends up in a weighted priority for the further development of the product. This part of the QFD correlates customer expectations on features to dedicated specifications. Looking solely at the results from the CS process, it is clear that there is no link to the specification requirements or that it has any influence on the preference for development. QFD is not made to take the customer’s satisfaction or dissatisfaction into account. However, both use weighted numbers to express this. In [19] it is described, how to merge CS and QFD to CSQFD. This powerful method is used for taking the outcome of CS as additional weight to the calculation of the priority for each specification. The picture for the development of the product changes and the customer will be much more satisfied with the single features of the product. An example is shown Table 2. In this case, QFD only shows similar development preferences for the lens and the type of LED; the housing material and the electronics respectively. After the CS inclusion, the indication of which specification equipment to focus most on is much more clear, here it is the type of the LED which should receive the largest share in development.

Figure 3 Value Management and CSQFD: The end-customer of the manufacturer is providing the user’s input for VM; Kano model and the HoQ.

As shown in figure 3, the manufacturer must forward information to the supplier, who is steering the CSQFD process. This can be initiated by the seller of the supplier and supported by three-sided non-disclosureagreements, when required. The similarities and differences of both methods are given in Table 3. Analytically, the easiest approach would be to multiply the weighted importance of the parts found in the HoQ of the CSQFD with the computed values of the value analysis. In Table 4, the results are shown. In addition, a new rank of importance has been added to the diagram. It shows that the LED now becomes most important. In the given example, it is due to the customer’s satisfaction with high illumination and the option of flashing. Both the end-customer’s and the user’s needs are better expressed. The final product will be more satisfying to the end-customer and at the same time, the value of the subsystems are optimized.

Table 3 Comparison of Value Management and CSQFD terms

Table 2 The HoQ compared for QFD and CSQFD approach. Calculation after [20].

4 Combining both worlds: Value Management and CSQFD Before being able to combine these methods, the following must be clear: Value Management is a method driven by a manufacturer with the target to get best value from internal and external suppliers. CSQFD is a method driven by a company selling products to a customer. To link both tools, the manufacturer in the VM world must be customer of the supplier in the CSQFD world. Both companies must be willing to optimize the value of the final product with respect to customer satisfaction in Kano’s way of thinking. Non-cooperative customersupplier relations as found e.g. in many automotive supply chains will not be able to increase a products value with VM and CSQFD.


Table 4 The final result after combining the CSQFD with the value management

5 Conclusion and outlook Value management and CSQFD have many tools in common. The analytical method of describing a product by the functions of its parts and sub-system is with a few exceptions identical in both models. Customer expectations found in VM and CSQFD can be used as a link to combine them. The degree of customer satisfaction must be also be ‘valued’, which can be done using Kano’s method of disjunctive pairs of questions and calculation of a new, relative value. The outcome

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may change the rank of the function carriers with the benefit that the customer is more in focus. In future works, a case study accompanied by a more detailed mathematical method for value calculation should help to deepen the understanding of the new method on the one side. On the other side, more research is needed to settle the new method into a broader process, which still has to be straightforward and focused. References 1. Pfister W (2011) Praxisbeispiele. In: VDI (ed) Wertanalyse – das Tool im Value Management, 6th edn. Springer, Heidelberg [u.a.], 157–262 2. Deutsches Institut für Normung e. V. (2002) Value Management: Deutsche Fassung EN (12973 2000) 3. Qiping Shen G, Yu ATW (2012) Value management: recent developments and way forward. Construction Innovation 12(3): 264–271. doi: 10.1108/14714171211244631 4. Shen QP (1993) A knowledge-based structure for implementing value management in the design of office buildings: PhD Thesis. Document Supply Centre. British Library, Salford 5. Jay CI, Bowen PA (2015) Value management and innovation: A historical perspective and review of the evidence. J of Eng, Design and Tech 13(1): 123– 143. doi: 10.1108/JEDT-03-2013-0021 6. Marchthaler J, Wigger T, Lohe R (2011) Value Management und Wertanalyse. In: VDI (ed) Wertanalyse – das Tool im Value Management, 6th edn. Springer, Heidelberg [u.a.], 11–38 7. Bronner A, Herr S (2006) Vereinfachte Wertanalyse: Mit formularen und CD-ROM. VDI-Buch. Springer, Heidelberg 8. VDI (ed) (2011) Wertanalyse – das Tool im Value Management, 6th edn. Springer, Heidelberg [u.a.]

9. DIN (2000) Value Management: German Version (EN 12973) 10. Fischer JO (2008) Kostenbewusstes Konstruieren: Praxisbewährte Methoden und Informationssysteme für den Konstruktionsprozess. Springer, Berlin 11. Kano N (1984) Attractive Quality and Must-be Quality. The Journal of the Japanese Society for Quality Control 14(2): 39–48 12. Matzler K, Hinterhuber HH, Bailom F et al. (1996) How to delight your customers. Journal of Product & Brand Management 5(2): 6–18 13. Sauerwein E, Bailom F, Matzler K et al. (1996) The Kano Model: How to Delight your Customers. Preprints Volume I of the IX. International Working Seminar on Production Economics (I): 313–327 14. Akao Y (1972) New Product Development and Quality Assurance - Quality Deployment System. Standardization and Quality Control 25(4): 7–14 15. Akao Y, Mazur GH (2003) The leading edge in QFD: past, present and future. International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management 20(1): 20–35 16. Herzwurm G QFD-ID: Einführung in QFD. qfd_einfuhrung.html 17. Saatweber J (1997) Kundenorientierung durch Quality Function Deployment: Systematisches Entwickeln von Produkten und Dienstleistungen. Hanser, München [u.a.] 18. Wen HT, Tong J, Fan XM et al. (2010) Using QFD to analyse demand chain management in China for European winery. In: EM, pp 265–269 19. Schneider-Störmann L (2015) Technische Produkte verkaufen mit System: Einführung und Praxis des technischen Vertriebs. Hanser, Carl, München 20. Tan KC, Pawitra TA (2001) Integrating SERVQUAL and Kano’s model into QFD for service excellence development. Managing Service Quality 11(6): 418–430 21. Tan KC, Shen XX (2000) Integrating Kano’s model in the planning matrix of quality function deployment. Total Quality Management 11(8): 1141–1151 22. Tontini G (2007) Integrating the Kano Model and QFD for Designing New Products. Total Quality Management 18(6): 599–612

Journal of Excellence in Sales



Investing in sales is oxygen for business Sirpa Hänti Principal Lecturer at TUAS Last autumn (2018), the first MBA programme in Professional Sales Management started in Finland, and even in the whole world. The first group of students consists of people from different sales backgrounds and education, too. Most of the students hold a Bachelor’s degree in either Business or Engineering, but we also have in our group one Master of Engineering and even one PhD in Chemistry. The common denominator of all of us is the enthusiasm for sales. In the following articles, you can feel the enthusiasm for learning more about contemporary sales and sales management. Kalle Vuorio, who has a background in R&D, describes it in his article “Oxygen for Business”. He is responsible for the company’s export sales and writes about his growing understanding of the strategic role of sales. Marko Holmström has written about the eye-opening insights of the customer journey and customer experience from the sales point of view in his article “The Value of Studying an MBA Degree”. He points out also the importance of social intelligence and agility of sales in the continuing change we are facing. Joni Viitanen has been working earlier in consulting, engineering and project management in the fields of automation, instrumentation and


process electrification and today he is leading the company’s sales in Finland. In his article “Lessons learnt”, he refers to Bob Marley: “I don’t like sales, I love it”. Acting as a tutor, and as a teacher on some of the courses, I am happy to work with this group – they boost me to offer them the best of the latest international sales research and practice, and endorse their careers in sales and sales management. In the following semester, we will cover the interesting themes of Sales Management and Leadership, International Sales and Social Selling.

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Sales – oxygen for business Kalle Vuorio Master Student (Professional Sales Management) at TUAS Kalle Vuorio

Importance of sales

Journey to sales excellence

Breathing is vital for all human beings, it is the way we fuel our cells with oxygen and power our thinking and moving. But what powers companies to achieve new, higher levels from year to year?

On the third of September, I stepped into a large auditorium in Turku with hundreds of other students. All seeking to increase their knowledge on different areas of life and business. This was the beginning of an interesting journey.

The answer is sales, it is oxygen for business. It prevents companies from suffocating and losing their vitality. Unfortunately, succeeding in sales is not as natural for companies as breathing is for us.

From R&D to sales I started my career in product development with a strict focus on the product and its features. I was sure that a good product would be the key to the success of company. However, this was only a small slice of the truth. Later, I got a chance to see closer how sales works. Realising how rewarding it was with a satisfied customer, there was no going back. Sales was problem solving in the front row! In sales, you also have a great viewpoint on the internal operations of the company, to its customers and external stakeholders. After my practical learning-by-doing period in sales, I was asked to focus on our company’s export sales. This was the first time I started to think of sales as a strategic function and how the processes should be organized to reach the highest efficiency possible. At this point, it was also clear to me that I need to gain more formal knowledge from sales. Once again, the answer was closer than I thought. The MBA programme in “Professional Sales Management” at TUAS seemed to be the perfect match for my professional development needs.

During the first autumn, I participated in three different courses: In “Recent trends in B2B buying behaviour”, carried out by Sirpa Hänti, we were introduced to how to identify trends in the business environment and how to utilize these in sales planning. In the rapidly changing world this topic is getting more and more important. We also had a formal look on how the customer sees sales. This approach was introduced well in the book “Understanding the Professional Buyer“ (Cheverton and Van der Valde, 2011). Still too often sales people focus on own interest of succeeding, while true value is in understanding customer needs. On the “Presentation and negotiation in sales” course, Timo Holopainen introduced to us the secrets of successful negotiation practices and how to pass your message to the audience with a good presentation. Here we were taken out of the comfort zone by video recording our presentations and reviewing them. Recording your speech or presentation can be quite painful but I can highly recommend it. This opens the way to identifying your strengths and weaknesses. Based on these findings, we made an action plan to study these independently even further during the following months.

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On the “Advanced B2B sales” course held by Sini Jokiniemi, we focused on several scientific articles related to sales management and strategy. How to implement strategy in sales was considered comprehensively in the article: “Putting Sales at the Center of Strategy” (Cespedes, F. 2014). An interesting point here was the conclusion that in 90% of cases, the strategy implementation to sales fails. I can highly recommend this for all managers and sales people. There is plenty of room for improvement. Part of the learning on this course was also to learn how to read scientific articles and how to find the right information efficiently. You need to focus on the big picture instead of minor details. Sounds obvious but is not so easy when trying to find the thread in a scientific article. We also had the possibility to learn value-based selling (VBS) from visiting guest lecturer Johannes Reiterer from Wiener Neustadt University of Applied

Sciences, Austria. Johannes opened up the VBS process and managed to give new perspectives, even the topic is quite old and commonly well known. The customer needs a solution with identified value, not the product. The reference book,” Infinite Value” by Mark Davies, will definitely be found in my bookshelf in the future. After the past four months at TUAS, I am confident that this will be an interesting journey towards MBA in sales. The possibility to apply these new practices to my daily work brings significant value for my company and increases my knowledge and skills in sales to a new level. References: Cespedes, F. (2014) Putting Sales at the Center of Strategy. Harvard Business Review, 92 (10). Cheverton, P. & van der Velde, J. P. (2011) Understanding the Professional Buyer. What every sales professional should know about how the modern buyer thinks and behaves. Kogan Page, Replika Press Pvt Ltd, India. Davies, M. (2017) Infinite Value, Bloomsbury Business

The value of studying an MBA degree Marko Holmström Master Student (Professional Sales Management) at TUAS The world is changing fast and yesterday’s information might not be valid today. Employees have to keep up with the pace and with the increasing demands from corporations. Clarey (2017) writes that your MBA is worthless. He talks about paid MBA education programmes and has a clear statement from a U.S. citizen’s point of view. You may find several other writings for example on LinkedIn where the writer states that nowadays education is unnecessary, even worthless. The message from Clarey (2017) and others is that


Marko Holmström

today you can get this knowledge for free from the internet. Despite of these claims, I decided to start in an MBA programme this fall. The MBA programme I started is provided by a Finnish higher education institution, Turku University of Applied Sciences and it is free, meaning there is no tuition fee. I will admit that MBA programmes are often a huge investment from the attendee. In this case, the cost of the programme is insignificant, but the time investment in the 2-year program is however not. The reason why I started an MBA programme is that

Journal of Excellence in Sales


it is not worthless in Finland. Quite the opposite: many companies require higher education. In fact, the company where I work requires a master’s degree if I want to be promoted from my current job. One of the reasons to study an MBA degree is to show your competence and therefore to be more competitive in the job market. In 2018, I participated in various seminars and events where the topic was the transformation of work and the future of working life. The claims are that future work and the future employee are quite different from today. A study by Benedikt and Osborne (2013, 39) points out that sales occupations have high risk of being computerized. The high-risk sales occupations include, for example, cashiers, rental clerks and telemarketers. However, the sales roles that require a high degree of social intelligence are not influenced by automatization. Benedikt and Osborne (2013, 39) give 99% of likelihood to that telemarketers will be left without jobs in the near future. Some of the experts in the seminars I have attended stated that communication skills and general knowledge are the most important skills for the future employee. Some say that only creativity and emotional intelligence separates us from computers in the future (Hyppönen 2018). Why, then, study something like sales, if it will be automatized by Artificial Intelligence in the future? It is certain that sales will change, as it has changed in the recent years and decades. This does not mean there will be no salespeople in the future; just that future sales and salespeople will be different. Our fall semester included studies in Leadership and Change Management, Trends in B2B Buying Behavior, Presentation and Negotiation skills and Advanced B2B sales. I found these highly interesting and most importantly relevant to working life. A colleague of mine, who is doing her Bachelor’s degree in business administration, said that this is something she would like to be studying instead of her current studies. In these courses I have gained information and capabilities that are not only important for sales people but for many other

parts of the organization. I believe these are all skills that are vital to almost every employee.

Salespeople are a strategic asset of a company Cron (2014) reveals that the spending on the sales force in U.S. has a greater impact on revenues than spending on advertising. It is estimated that personal selling has two to three times the impact on the company’s revenue than advertising. Cespedes (2014) tells that U.S. companies spend about three times more on sales than on consumer advertising.

Automatic selling to sum and value based selling to others The role of sales people is moving more into a problem-solving, customer experience enhancing direction. Lacoste (2018) indicates that an increasing number of companies have selected strategic customers, who are then treated differently from standard customers. Thus, the customer-facing function has been divided into two separate functions: traditional selling and strategic account management. (Lacoste 2018) Strategy is slow to change but customer need is quick. Thus, organizations need to have agile salespeople in order to compete in today’s turbulent markets. Agile salespeople know when the market has changed and the strategy is not applicable anymore. The customer’s need for value changes. Salespeople need thus to be agile to know that yesterday’s value propositions might not be good enough today. (Chonko and Jones 2011)

It does not matter what you want to sell, it matters what the buyer wants to buy Important lessons are about the direction where sales is going and more importantly in what direction buying behaviour is going. I have learned more about the importance of measuring the customer journey and the customer experience. In addition to AI, marketing and sales automation, in 2018 everybody talked about customer experience and how they are providing the best customer experience.

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The most important lesson I have learned is that you have to embrace change, but you do not have to embrace it alone. You do not have to digest everything life throws at you, but if you welcome the change and take the most out of it, you have the keys to success. Learning by your own is easier today than it has ever been, however the importance of other people has not become less important. Thus, studying an MBA can be very fruitful with people who share your interests, but who can also offer you totally different points of view.

The journey is more meaningful when not walked alone I would advise you to study and increase your competences whether it is through formal education or on your own. Learning is always beneficial. A higher education degree is just a way to show your competences and to prove yourself. In the corporate world, you have to prove yourself every now and then. References Accenture (2015), Improving Customer Experience Is Top Business Priority for Companies Pursuing Digital Transformation, According to Accenture Study, news release, October 27 2015, viewed 6 December


2018, improvingcustomer-experience-is-top-businesspriority-for-companiespursuing-digital-transformationaccording-to-accenture-study.html. Frey, C.B. & Osborne, M.A. September 17, 2013, THE FUTURE OF EMPLOYMENT: HOW SUSCEPTIBLE ARE JOBS TO COMPUTERISATION? uk/downloads/academic/The_Future_of_Employment.pdf. Cespedes, F. (2014), Putting Sales at the Center of Strategy. Harvard Business Review, 92 (10). Chonko, L. & Jones, E. (2011), Sales force agility, strategic thinking, and value propositions. In: The Oxford Handbook of Strategic Sales and Sales Management, pp. 518-538. Clarey, A. (2017), Your MBA Is Worthless, August 23, 2017, viewed 15 December 2018, pulse/your-mba-worthless-aaron-clarey/. Cron, W., Baldauf, A., Leigh, T. & Grossenbacher, S. (2014) et al. 2014, The Strategic Role of the Sales Force: Perceptions of Senior Sales Executives. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 42 (5). Gao, Y. (2017), Aircraft evaluation and selection’, AVA10005 Aviation Regulation & Operation, Learning materials on Blackboard, Swinburne University of Technology, 15 August 2017, viewed 30 November 2018. HyppÜnen, H. (2018), Presentation, The future of work, 20 November 2018. Lacoste, S. (2018), From Selling to Managing Strategic Customers - A Competency Analysis. Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management, 38 (1).

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Lessons learned Joni Viitanen Master Student (Professional Sales Management) at TUAS Joni Viitanen

Why sales? When I was asked to lead our Balance+ sales in Finland four and half years ago, I had been doing consulting, engineering and project management in the fields of automation, instrumentation and process electrification for nine years. Many people wonder why I have chosen to stop honest work and steer my professional career towards sales. Every now and then, I ponder on it myself as well. This is the case especially in situations when I am sitting in my car, driving home for hundreds of kilometres from the other side of Finland, after twelve-hour negotiations with the customer and two years of sales work including convincing the client, dispelling suspicions and revising quotations. All this and much more just to get the polite answer, “Thank you, but no thank you”. Luckily, that is not the whole picture. Sometimes the situation is different; the scene can be the same but in my briefcase I have the signed project contract. Obviously, my feelings are much brighter then. Back to the original question. To paraphrase Bob Marley: I don’t like sales, I love it. I have always had passion for helping people solve their problems and find solutions. Eventually that is what consulting and engineering sales is all about. Even back in the days when my job was not in sales, I tried to find out what other problems the customer might have beside the one I was already solving. Moreover, as a part of the customer journey, every time an expert meets his/her client, he/she enables or prevents the following sales.

What I have learned and how I utilize it When looking back at the outcome of this fall, I would rank the customer journey together with reading, writing, listening and speaking English as the top two learned issues. The first one I chose

because it was a completely new concept for me. Of course, the elements have been present, but no one has ever taught them to me. The second was beforehand one of the main goals for me to apply for the study programme. At the end of 2018, I suggested my employer to establish a new job and management team member for leading and developing the customer journey in our company based on this fall’s studies. The idea is to move from traditional solution sales to modern thinking where it is possible that our first contact with the client is the call for tender. It is important for a company to take sales to the top-level decision making. (Cespedes, F. 2014 and Piercy, N. 2010) My working language is Finnish so I use English very little. As result of the studies, so far I have used English much more than in the previous years. I believe that my presentation skills have improved during this fall. As result of using a foreign language, I have been paying more attention to non-verbal communication. In the long run, it will help me to win the trust of our clients inside and outside Finland and therefore to make better and more sales in the future. Even though at the end of the day sales is measured by how many deals have been won, being a salesman is much more than closing or losing deals, and successful sales is much more than winning or losing. In every case, there is also an interesting customer journey to go through with the client and sometimes the journey is much more important than the destination. References Cespedes, F. (2014) Putting Sales at the Center of Strategy. Harvard Business Review, 92 (10). Piercy, N. (2010) Evolution of Strategic Sales Organizations in Business-to-Business Marketing. Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, 25 (5).

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Team selling – opportunities and challenges

Timo Huttunen

Marko Juhannusvuori

Timo Huttunen, Marko Juhannusvuori and Veera Kallioniemi Master Students at TUAS

Veera Kallioniemi

Who are we? We are three Master Students, Timo Huttunen, Marko Juhannusvuori and Veera Kallioniemi. We participated in Principal Lecturer Timo Holopainen’s course Technical Sales. During the course, we found ourselves to be extremely fascinated about team selling because we got to experience its power first-hand.

Why have a team doing sales? Why would you waste resources and arrange a meeting where you have 2–3 or even more people doing sales on a single project? Why wouldn’t you just send a salesperson to make the offer and close the deal? The reason for this is more complex than you first might think. Particularly in b2b environments – characterized by increasing complexity and uncertainty – grouping salespersons in team-based structures to encourage and facilitate helping behaviours is essential, as this stimulates individuals to share and exchange expertise, helps to alleviate the workload, and facilitates joint problem solving and creativity. (van der Borgh, M., Industrial Marketing Management, 1) Having more than one salesperson in a team will double the changes to get a deal. Knowing the value of every team member will lead to the best outcome. All the team members have their own skills and by supporting each other, the sales meeting can be more effective.

Different roles in teams A salesperson does not necessarily have the best understanding of the technical side of the project or product he/she is trying to sell. Sales needs someone to help with that and to argue it to the customer. The customer might also have his/her own idea, which might be impossible to do. Technical understanding is needed to argue against the customer’s idea and to have his/her head turned around, your solution which, of course, is best for their needs. Often it is that customers do not trust


salespeople’s motives or do not believe he/she understands enough about the technical issues in the project. In this case, it is best to have someone in the meeting who the customer can trust and with whom he/she can discuss these matters. This also helps the salesperson to maintain his/her focus on selling and not to go too deep in the product specification. A salesperson accompanied with a technical specialist is maybe the most common team to have sales meetings with customers; at least in the early steps of the project, where there still are many technical issues open and to solve. Often, there is also the need to have other key persons involved. One of these is the sales manager. The sales manager brings gravity to the table. His/her involvement shows to the customer that we are serious about this deal and want to do it. The sales manager also represents the company more than the product; the sales manager argues on the benefits of the co-operation on company level whereas the salesperson focuses on the product level. When settling the terms of the delivery or contract, the sales manager can have a final say whether something is possible to do according to the company policy. There can be even more roles in the team. Even having the company CEO in the meeting can sometimes be important, even if he/she would not say a word during the meeting. Some roles might not involve the meeting itself but have nevertheless an important role in how the team performs and succeeds in the sales process. It is important to remember that in b2b project sales, the actual sales meeting with the customer can take very little time. All the preparation, planning and design can be a lot more time-consuming.

1+1 equals more than 2 The second thing in favour of having a team is that in fact, having different roles in the team contributes to the performance of the

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individuals within the team. When you have the right persons with a little different skills and backgrounds working together, their motivation and performance improve compared with working separately. Studies also show that salespeople’s experience relative to other team members’ experience and also how experience is split between the team members has an impact on how they perform (Mullins & Panagopoulus). Sales itself is like an act of well-played theatre where each has their own role. Each party tries to have an advantage over the other. There are different ways to have advantages in the negotiation. One of the most common ones is to have more people in the meeting than the opponent. The aim of this strategy is to demonstrate power. It is common that there are people present in the meeting, which at the first glance does not seem to have any role but to sit there, but that is exactly his/her role. Having mixed gender teams also seems to have an impact on the performance compared to an all-male team. Female presence in the team has a positive effect on how team members perform especially on high-performing team members; high-performing members enhance their skills, the team hierarchy changes and people share leadership more heterogeneously. (Mullins & Panagopoulus). Garrett and Gopalakrishna (Garret & Gopalakrishna 2017) also suggest that the sales performance is positively affected by forming a sales team according to the personal sales performance track record. Research on the topic suggests that team members with moderate differences in sales performance support each other and have a positive impact, when compared to teams with high levels of difference in the sales performance. The same research shows that the impact of the sales performance between team members is higher than the impact of other factors, such as ethnicity, gender or personality traits. Therefore, putting weak and strong performers in the same selling team is not a good idea, although this is not necessarily relevant, if team members in the selling team have different roles in the sales process. A technical expert that supports the sales representative might not even be tracked by his/her sales performance.

Selling in teams also facilitates the learning process. When experts from different functions work together, it is more likely that the lessons from sales negotiations will be disseminated within the organization. The flow of information and accumulation of knowledge is multidirectional. This means that sales and non-sales personnel together refine the lessons learned from each interaction with the customer, from the viewpoint of their own function. All interaction between the selling team members, between the sales organization and other functions as well as between the selling team and customer should be utilized as a learning opportunity. The key learning areas include customer feedback on the product or service itself, the used marketing material, benefits that customers value most, the company’s business model. Team learning has significance for enhancing the market-orientation of the selling firm. Teams are also capable of handling more information than individuals by virtue of the combined intelligence of all the members of the team. The ability of the team to generate knowledge, however, is not self-granted. Capabilities and motivation for team learning processes should be built consistently by training, demonstrating the benefits and reward schemes. (Jones, E. et al. 2005).

References Jones, E., Dixon A. L., Chonko, L. B.& Cannon, J. P. (2005) Key Accounts and Team Selling: A Review, Framework, and Research Agenda, Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management, 25:2, 181–198 Garretta, J. & Gopalakrishnab, S. (2017) Sales team formation: The right team member helps performance. Industrial Marketing Management, Johnson, J. S., Industrial Marketing Management (2017) S0019850116303376?via%3Dihub Mullins, R & Panagopoulos, N. (2018). Understanding the theory and practice of team selling: An introduction to the special section and recommendations on advancing sales team research. Industrial Marketing Management, article in press. Van der Borgh, M., Industrial Marketing Management (2017), http://

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What can Selectionbuddy do for SMEs? Griet Van Der Vurst, Katrien Cobbaut and Marjolein Feys All authors act as lecturers and researchers at University College Ghent / Hogeschool Gent A hands-on tool for personnel selection More and more organizations realize that their human capital represents their primary competitive advantage. Hence, selecting new employees is an important key to success for these small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs). However, we learned from available scientific research and from our own investigation that these small and mediumsized businesses – whether located in Flanders or somewhere else in Europe – have little expertise when it comes to selecting new employees for their organization. Moreover, most business leaders from small businesses in Flanders we talked to explained that they rely mostly, if not solely on their ‘gut feeling’ when it comes to hiring new employees. Clearly, more often than not this does not lead to hiring the best available candidate. Figure 1: Editing a vacancy – choosing which selection steps you want to use

What is Selectionbuddy? With our tool, Selectionbuddy, we want to aid these SME’s in making a more objective hiring decision, by using evidence-based selection tests and guiding them through the selection process from start to finish. As such, Selectionbuddy is an innovative and pragmatic application that was developed to support SMEs in their efforts of selection. It is an online platform that guides the selection process by steering the communication between job candidates and SMEs looking for a suitable new personnel member. In the tool, several steps in the selection process are proposed and explained, next to useful tips and tricks. Taking into account the trend towards increasing interest in value fit and incorporating insights from scientific research into personnel selection, the tests that are used in the tool (i.e., personality test, situational judgement test, values, …) are all evidence-based. When using the Selectionbuddy, the business leader chooses which steps are appropriate for the available vacancy (see Figure 1) and incorporates a unique hyperlink to his/her Selectionbuddy vacancy in the vacancy text that is spread. When interested candidates use the link, they can go through the selection process on the Selectionbuddy platform. A business leader is kept in the loop at all times of new applicants, can consult the information of candidates (see Figure 2 and 3) and can judge how suitable candidates are.


Figure 2: Overview applicant information for one vacancy

How does it help SMEs? During our world cafés with Belgian and Finnish SMEs, it became apparent that SMEs often are very busy and that the need for a new personnel member can be very urgent. Moreover, in these companies it is not often a priority to gain knowledge about HR. Not surprisingly, this lack of HR expertise makes it more difficult to hire and select new employees in an objective manner. Hence, Selectionbuddy was developed to facilitate the selection process and to centralize candidate information (see Figure 3) without having to pay big fees for existing ATS (applicant tracking systems). It is an easy to use platform, with

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a logical flow and tips and tricks for each step. While it is currently only available in Dutch, it will be translated in several languages in the upcoming months (English, French, and possibly even Swedish and Finnish).

How does it help job seekers? This platform was also developed to offset the issues that job seekers encounter when applying for a job in an SME. Issues that job seekers often encounter are the lack of feedback, not knowing the selection process or in which phase they are and difficulty to find vacancy and business information. With the Selectionbuddy, we hope to improve the experience of job seekers when looking for a job, and to enhance the feeling that the selection process was done in a fair and objective manner.

Figure 3: Candidate profile - Flow of Selectionbuddy can be viewed on top of page

How was this tool developed?

has investigated the predictive value of several selection techniques (this is the way in which a selection technique can predict performance in the future job – good predictive value means the test can predict very well how an individual will perform or behave on the job). This platform incorporated selection steps that have the highest predictive validity, which allows for better decision making. Third, how applicants perceive selection techniques (face validity) was taken into account, by choosing techniques that are received well and perceived as fair by job seekers. Finally, business leaders who want to avoid discrimination can allow the first selection step to be anonymous. By leaving out personal data, such as nationality, name, photo, the focus is on actual skills and competencies of individuals. In this way, the risk of adverse impact is minimized.

Take-aways: What are the advantages of Selectionbuddy? • Free platform • Get guidance in the selection process through the flow of the tool • Using the best available selection techniques taking into account predictive validity, face validity, efficiency with option of minimizing adverse impact • Choosing which selection steps you want to use for a certain vacancy • Useful tips and tricks for every selection step • Keep an overview of the candidates which allows easy comparison of the scores in the different steps of the selection process • Reminder to always give feedback in the selection process by suggesting a feedback template. Candidates find it important to know how they are doing in the selection process. Moreover, whether or not they get feedback also influences how they view a business.

We involved several relevant parties in the development of this tool: SME employers, (future) employees, and several counsellors. By questioning these stakeholders about their difficulties, the needs or the requirements for the tool were mapped. National cooperation included VDAB (i.e. the public employment service of Flanders) and UNIZO (Belgian union for SMEs). These larger organizations are also aware of what’s going on in the field and they were involved in the steering committee. Transnational partners were Karelia UAS (Finland), TUAS and Hochschule Harz (Germany); with them we exchanged information and came to the conclusion that the problems for SMEs’ hiring processes are common across countries.


This tool and package was developed based on scientific findings that take into account efficiency, predictive value, face validity and diversity (i.e. no adverse impact against minority groups). As such, we support SMEs in professionalizing their selection decision.

Do you want to take a look?

In sum, the Selectionbuddy offers SMEs a hands-on tool that can guide them through the hiring process. By offering evidence-based tests, tips and tricks and advice with each step of the way, we believe our tool can be a valuable asset to every small and medium-sized enterprise that is invested in making a fair and objective selection decision and wants to leave the candidate with the feeling (s)he was treated fairly. This platform can be used for SMEs in all contexts and for vacancies for all profiles, including sales. Using a new hiring tool might help you to differentiate from other companies as well.

First, by proposing selection steps in an automated way, the selection process will be more efficient. Second, scientific research

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Successful recruitment processes – prerequisites for successful business Mari Konsala-Lindstedt Bachelor Student in Business Administration (Purchasing and Sales Management Programme) at TUAS SMErec – New generation recruitment skills for small and mediumsized enterprises (SME) and workforce – is a project, which aims to support the success of SMEs in recruitment and at the same time to strengthen their competitiveness in the market. The SMErec project is carried out in Finland in the Turku and Joensuu economic areas, and in similar projects in Belgium and Germany. In the spring and autumn of 2018, interviews were organized in Turku area to identify the recruitment processes of SMEs and how successful these processes were in practice. The interviews were carried out by first- and second-year sales bachelor students at TUAS, who contacted companies and interviewed the management of the company. A total of 33 companies participated in the interviews.

Companies that participated in the interview Various sizes of companies from different business sectors participated in the interviews. Among the respondents, almost half of the companies operated in wholesale and retail industries, every fifth in real estate activities and the rest e.g. in the accommodation and catering, information and communication and industrial business fields. Roughly a half of the respondents worked in micro-enterprises with fewer than 10 employees. Small companies with a personnel of 10–49 employees represented 33 percent of the companies and 12 percent represented medium-sized enterprises with a personnel of 50–250 employees. The interviewed companies were founded in different decades. 60 percent of the companies were founded in the 2000s, mostly in 2010–2018.

SMEs’ recruitment needs and processes Based on the interviews, in 90% of the interviewed companies the management (CEO or shareholders), is responsible for recruitment. In the rest of the companies, recruitment was the responsibility of the HR, secretary or store manager. Five companies expressed a continuous need for permanent staff recruiting. The need for permanent staff was, for example, an increase


in the company’s volume in the market. These companies operated in the fields of construction, sales and real estate companies. Seven companies reported that there is currently no need for recruitment. One of those consisted mainly of part-time employees, and two reported only project-specific recruitment and lightentrepreneurial activity. Two of the companies with no recruitment needs were micro-enterprises of 1–2 people who have had no need for permanent staff after their initial foundation year. Around half of the companies reported the need for temporary staff to be seasonal (summer and Christmas seasons). A third of the companies responded that there is no need for seasonal recruitment and further informed the reason for this to be the nature of work and the need for permanent staff instead of temporary staff. Three quarters of the interviewed companies have their own established practices when it comes to recruitment processes. The practices included the use of personnel services and social media, as well as own networks. Every fourth interviewee answered that there are no established practices, because e.g. recruitment was possible through partners and networks, or agreements were always customized. 70 percent of the companies take care of recruitment by themselves, without outsourcing any parts of the process. Three of the respondents reported bad experiences and high cost of recruitment companies as a cause for independent performance. A quarter of all respondents use only external services such as rental companies, recruitment companies, advertising agencies, digital consultants and TE Employment Services when it is time to recruit new personnel.

Building job advertisements There were varying practices in the interviewed SMEs in the creation of job advertisements. About half of the companies stated that they would always prepare a new job advertisement for every occasion and about one third of the companies used old job advertisements.

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Every tenth respondent mentioned their company was solely relying on external services for the creation of job advertisements. The companies listed the following as the criteria for a good job advertisement: short and concise, informative, type of job (temporary or permanent), clearly stated requirements, the job description itself, presentation of company and duration of work. Some respondents also emphasized visuality as the strength of the job advertisement.

Success in recruiting and further learning 80 percent of the interviewed SMEs reported that they had been able to find potential applicants with the measures in use. The respondents offered a few tips on being successful in recruiting: targeting the announcements to a specific group, active networking and good connections. However, one-fifth of the companies found no candidates or felt it was challenging. The interviewed SMEs also listed topics they would like to know more about in a seminar-type of setting: recruitment processes in the same business field, job seekers’ perspectives and expectations for a successful interview, recommendations for the best recruitment channels, experiences from recruitment companies and peer experiences on recruitments.

Photo: Shutterstock.

Companies used different channels for advertising open vacancies. The most widely used social media channels were Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. The companies’ own websites and job search sites were also in active use. Companies preferred such job search sites as Duunitori, Oikotie and In addition, companies also promoted open vacancies in local newspapers.

In a summary, companies already have good tools in use for being successful in recruitment processes, but most interviewed SMEs are interested in getting more information and developing their own recruitment processes. Different channels bring visibility to companies and increase the chance of finding potential applicants. Based on the responses, companies are motivated to develop their recruitment skills and want to hear more about the topic.

Journal of Excellence in Sales



Hidden jobs – how to find them? Anu Lehtinen Senior Advisor at TUAS

Anu Lehtinen. Photo: Aino Lindroos.

It is often said that there are more hidden jobs than jobs, which are advertised openly. One can compare hidden jobs to an iceberg. The part of the iceberg that one can see above the sea level is much smaller than the part one cannot see, the part below the sea level. One can say that hidden jobs are the part of the iceberg that is below sea level. In any case, it is easiest for a student or recent graduate to find a job trough their own contacts. If a job applicant finds a company before they have announced that they are looking for new applicants to a certain position, the applicant usually gets the upper hand on getting the job. The applicant will not have any competition or only very few competitors, compared to the situation when the job has been advertised widely and there might be dozens, if not hundreds of applicants, many of whom also have much longer work experience than the student or recent graduate has.

necessary. It is also more cost-effective for companies if the applicants contact them at the right time, so that the companies would only need to check out one or two applicants, and then just hire the most suitable one. Some companies are even ready to hire anyone who has the right kind of background and skills and is motivated to come work for them. In any case, one of the ways for an applicant to show his/her motivation is to take initiative on job-hunting by him/herself and hunt for hidden jobs. One should be active, contact companies, and send out open applications. In addition, it might be that the companies have not even had time to think that they need more employees before an active job hunter comes and asks for work.

An applicant can show his/her motivation in taking initiative on job-hunting for him/ herself and hunt for hidden jobs How can one hunt for hidden jobs? Where can jobs be found if they are not advertised? There are two ways to approach this issue. Either you can start by thinking, which companies interest you most, and what kind of positions would be most interesting for you. Alternatively, you can hint to your contacts that you are looking for new job opportunities, and hope that your contacts know about interesting positions that might be opening up or companies that would need new employees. Alternatively, if you are serious about job hunting, then of course you can do both. Be active and use your own network to hear about all possible opportunities. In any case, networks are important when one is hunting for hidden jobs: both the network that you have right now, and also the network that you are building as you get new connections when you seek for job opportunities and contact new people in different companies.

Photo: Shutterstock.

Therefore, it is an advantage for a student or recent graduate to find a hidden job, since there is less competition for the position. In addition, many companies do not have the resources to thoroughly go over dozens or even hundreds of applications for one position. That is why some companies do not advertise even an open position until it is


The next question is, whom and where to contact? The applicant should really think what kind of positions interest him/her. What kind of work would you like to do in the future? What issues are important to you? What kind of skills do you have? What would you like to develop? Then find the companies, which have similar values as you have and which meet your other requirements. In addition, these requirements can be very tangible, for example what time of the day you wish to work, how far your work place should be from your home, do you

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want to work with people etc. Therefore, it is vital to think carefully what kind of work you want to do. In addition, you should map out your own skills. When you think about your skills, please do not forget innovation competencies. Innovation competencies can be translated as working life skills or soft skills, which are needed in all professions.

It is vital to think carefully what kind of work you want to do Now, if you have really thought over and decided on what kind of positions you are looking for, then which companies to contact? At least at TUAS, students usually get contacts to companies in their own field through their studies in different kinds of projects, but if you still feel that you do not know enough about the companies in your own field then you can use all kinds of listings. There are for example listings of companies in different fields on the web pages of Turku Business Region, Technology Industries of Finland, Finnish Marine Industries, Turku Chamber of Commerce and other web pages. These listings or similar listings can also help you if you move to another part of Finland and are not that familiar with the companies in that area. Also, remember to think outside the box when pondering over different companies. For example, if you wish to work in accounting, then do not think about accounting companies only but remember that most companies need to do accounting and the larger companies also have their own accounting departments. On the other hand, in a smaller company, your tasks might be more varied than in a bigger company where you can perhaps concentrate on a certain kind of tasks. Therefore, you might want to think which you would prefer more: more varied work or really concentrating on certain tasks. Once you have piled up a list of a few, say 4–7 companies that interest you the most, you need to investigate the companies further. Try to find

out as much about the companies as possible, and think if you know someone working in these companies, or someone who knows about these companies. You can think how to get more inside knowledge about these companies and about the job opportunities that might be opening up. You can also try to find out what it is like to work in these companies. Would you enjoy working in these companies?

One should not forget that social media platforms are used for headhunting When you tell your own network that you are looking for new work opportunities and find out more about the companies that interest you, also remember to use different social media platforms. There are dozens of social media platforms and there are differences in which platform is most used in different fields. In any case, it can be said that for example via LinkedIn, you can easily let your own network know that you are looking for new job opportunities and also connect with new interesting people and companies. You can also join different groups in your own field. All of these you can use to find information about new job opportunities. One should not forget that social media platforms are also used for headhunting. Thus, you can also be found via a social media platform. Please remember to network with TUAS (if you are studying or working at TUAS, have you mentioned TUAS in your LinkedIn profile, or if you are interested in working at TUAS, please start following our company page in LinkedIn). There are also different projects that can help you with job-hunting. One of these projects is SMErec (New generation recruitments skills for SMEs and workforce) which organizes different kinds of training for both companies and students, and builds tools for students and companies to use in the recruitment process. For more information about SMErec, please check the project’s webpages:

Journal of Excellence in Sales



Exploiting the knowledge and competence gained within a project in the productization and sales of training Arja-Irene Tiainen, Principal Lecturer and Jaana Tolkki, HR Manager Karelia University of Applied Sciences



The UAS staff meets the challenges

Universities of applied sciences have good abilities to provide and implement training and strengthening of expertise for job applicants and for employees working as experts, as the statement of the steering group of the SMErec project (New generation recruitment skills for SMEs and workforce) indicates. The aim of the SMErec project is to enhance the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises by developing their recruitment skills. In this development work, the competitiveness of companies in two different types of economic areas (Joensuu and Turku) is enhanced by creating indicators that support the personnel strategies of companies as well as digital tools suitable to be used in the recruitment process. The SMErec project is administered by Karelia University of Applied Sciences, and Turku University of Applied Sciences and Business Joensuu are also involved in the project as partial implementers.

Both the teaching and administrative staff of Karelia University of Applied Sciences have the expertise and strength in the three areas of training needs mentioned above. Service business is one of the core tasks of universities of applied sciences and it is also often one part of UAS teachers’ duties. The term service business refers to regional cooperation between the university of applied sciences and the local industries including, for example, trainings targeted at companies in the region. Members of UAS staff can work as experts in these trainings. Productized trainings tailored based on the needs of the companies are also an important form of additional funding for universities of applied sciences.

Companies are currently in need of training and strengthening of expertise in three key areas. First, companies need to strengthen their own competence and the skills of their employees. Secondly, companies are in need of management and leadership training. The importance of and need for management and leadership training has been arising in the discussions on the current occupational restructuring. Currently, there are a number of different management and leadership views for managers to be selected and followed. Recently, emphasis has been particularly placed on knowledge management, competence management, coaching, and servant leadership. Thirdly, entrepreneurs have highlighted the need for training in recruitment and particularly the related lack of knowledge. The trainings by the SMErec project have been organized to answer to this need.

As the aims of the SMErec project indicate, a number of different types of trainings have been organized for entrepreneurs on various topics of recruitment. Experts in various fields of recruitment have been working as trainers in these trainings. Some of the experts have been members of the UAS staff, mainly teachers and principal lecturers. Because of project funding, it has been possible to implement these trainings free of charge for entrepreneurs, as well as many simultaneous trainings offered by entrepreneurial organizations.

SMErec project answers to the needs of recruitment training

Successful recruitment includes the actual recruitment process, general orientation, and fast onboarding of the new, recruited employee. One of the key issues in recruitment is to remember whether the applicant is being recruited for a particular job or for the organization. Unsuccessful recruitment may be caused by the aim of hiring the employee for filling a former employee’s shoes and ignoring the other skills of the new employee. In addition, it is impossible to fully test or evaluate the

Journal of Excellence in Sales


so-called general working life skills of the applicant (e.g. interpersonal skills, flexibility, accuracy, problem-solving skills) in a short interview session. Usually, the new employee’s lack of these general working life skills becomes apparent during the trial period. The employee may also notice during the trial period that the duties do not correspond with the job description written down on the job advertisement.

themselves known as experts and trainers also outside the UAS. Consequently, working as an expert and as a trainer should be seen as bridge-building for the future sales training. When working as a trainer, the teacher should have an entrepreneurial touch and already at the planning stage and later when implementing the training, the trainer could also think about further developing the training for the needs of future sales training. It has been agreed that the competence acquired by trainers and the project staff on recruitment and its contents during the SMErec project will be further developed into an online course at the end of the project. The implementation of the online course “New Winds of Recruitment” will start after the end of the SMErec project, as part of the UAS Master’s studies in management. The online course will also be provided for the students of the Open University of Applied Sciences. This is a good, concrete example of how the results of a project, the knowledge and skills acquired during it, have resulted in a productized online course that will be offered as part of UAS studies and also as a training to be sold outside the UAS.

Kuvateksti: Photo: Shutterstock.

The job advertisement is, hence, one of the most important parts of the recruitment process. It is also the sales announcement and image of the organization. Besides the image and the attractiveness of the organization, it is important to carefully consider and describe the main duties and the competence required to be written down on the job advertisement. As to the applicant, the importance of the application and the CV in the application process is emphasized. The applicant needs to stand out from others with his/her application and CV and s/he must be able to sell and market his/her expertise with these documents. The mere list of qualifications and work experience does not make the applicant stand out in today’s tough competition of jobs, but s/he needs to be able to sell his/her competence.

Benefits of the SMErec project The SMErec project mentioned above, as many other projects too, have provided the UAS staff with an excellent opportunity to make

Reflection The literature on management and leadership emphasizes the importance of recruitment and it is seen as an important factor in the strategic success of a company. Recruitment is always a big investment for an organization as well as a factor of uncertainty, since unsuccessful recruitments are expensive for the company. During the job application process, it is important to make the applicant’s own expertise visible and to focus on the selling of this expertise. Every recruitment is done with the aim of finding the best and most suitable employee. Recruitment is about both finding the expertise that matches with the company’s values and aims as well as making the employee commit him/herself to them. The aim is to recruit skilled and suitable experts and to make them feel welcome and capable of developing themselves in their jobs. Good recruitment training can be helpful in avoiding the pitfalls of recruitment and the SMErec project has provided training for enabling successful recruitments for entrepreneurs.

Journal of Excellence in Sales



INTENSE Full run Helena Rantanen Senior Lecturer at TUAS “Learning is always an interactive situation and interaction means encountering other people” (Saloviita 2016, 18) The core of the INTENSE project is innovation, entrepreneurship and internationalization. The Erasmus+ funded project INTENSE – INternational Entrepreneurship Skills Europe – combines the united inputs of five European countries and universities: Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft (HTW), Germany; Hogeschool Utrecht (HU), the Netherlands; University Colleges Leuven Limburg (UCLL), Belgium; Turku University of Applied Sciences (TUAS), Finland; and J.J: Strossmayer University of Osijek, Faculty of Economics (EFOS), Croatia. The project started in autumn 2016 and will end by autumn 2019. The basic idea of this project is to help SMEs in their internationalization together with students. The SME gives an assignment to a local student team related to their internationalization and the student teams from different countries work with that assignment together. One result of the project is a public teaching material that has been produced together with the partner universities. A part of this material is also the case studies that the participating students wrote related to the company assignments. Another result is the SME Toolkit that helps the SMEs when they start to plan internationalization. This toolkit can be found on the INTENSE webpage and it is called Entrepedia. The full run of the INTENSE project was held in autumn 2018 in all five participating universities. Every partner had several company assignments from local companies. The student groups that worked with the assignments for these companies also helped the partner university students with their assignments. During the full run, also the competences of the students and teachers were measured with the FINCODA Innovation Barometer Assessment Tool. Part of the students also had a chance to participate in a 5-day face-to-face meeting in Berlin, where they worked together with the company assignments and got important information related to this project. At TUAS, we had a group of 26 Finnish students from four different degree programmes: Business Logistics, Industrial Management and Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Sales. The students worked with assignments from five Finnish companies, but they also helped two Croatian, one Belgian, one German and one Dutch company to get market information about Finland. The basic process of the full run is described in Figure 1.


Process of the pilot run..

One of the Finnish companies that gave an assignment to the students was Laitilan Wirvoitusjuomatehdas Oy. The company is located 60 kilometres north from Turku. Since 1995, the company’s business idea has been to make drinks of unparalleled quality and imagination. Their mission is to produce Laitila beverages to such a high standard that they will fulfil the customers’ and consumers’ desires for quality and imagination and meet government requirements. At the moment, the company produces beers, ciders, long drinks, sparkling wine drinks and soft drinks. One of their products is the Kukko (Finnish for ‘Rooster’) beer that received the international gluten-free product trademark in 2005. The company’s main research question for the student team was to study the markets of gluten-free products and especially beers in Germany. The contact person of the company was Export Sales Director Marko Mikkola. I interviewed Marko Mikkola after the full run and asked his opinions about the INTENSE project. His feedback was positive. He mentioned that he has got more information related to gluten-free beers in the German market. The company participated in the Grüne Woche Fair in Berlin in January 2019 and Marko Mikkola mentioned that this idea came about partly Marko Mikkola because of this project. This fair was at the same time as the INTENSE project and the theme was the same as in the company assignment. Now the company starts to make plans for how to go to German markets with gluten-free Kukko beers and because of this project, these activities will start earlier than was planned. Marko

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Mikkola also mentioned that we had a very concrete approach to this assignment and it was a positive thing. He also said that they could participate in this kind of projects in the future. The implementation was well organized because there was not too much strain on the company and there was a suitable amount of meetings with the company. During the students’ Berlin week, we also marketed their products together with 13 Finnish students when we had an Intercultural Evening event.

Finnish student team and lecturers in Berlin.

The feedback from other Finnish companies was also positive. They all mentioned that the company awareness of the potential crossborder business target market developed. Moreover, the students’ work boosted their company to internationalize their business. Some of the participating companies already work largely in international markets, so their international skills are already well developed. However, when you have to explain things to other people, you also have to step out of your own working environment, and that might make you consider things in a different and new way. After the project, the students also gave feedback about what they have learned and how their international skills and innovation competences (six groups: creativity, teamwork, initiative, networking and critical thinking) have developed. In the beginning of the full run and also after the project, the students made a self-evaluation related to international skills and innovation competences. As a team, they also made a short summary of their common reflections related to the innovation competences and based on the notes of individual learning diaries. Almost all the Finnish students felt that they have learned international skills and they found it interesting to work together with students from another country. The students felt that they had to be creative and innovative and their teamwork skills developed. Networking with partner countries’ student teams brought new ideas and important information about foreign markets. Contacts with the Finnish client companies was also important and the co-operation with these companies went very well. The students also had to develop critical thinking and for example, some students found out contradictory information, so they had to decide the reliability of the information. They also noticed that critical thinking might bring out new solutions.

The contacts with foreign partner student teams started earlier than in the pilot run, so that also helped in the co-operation. It was also good to have students participating from different degree programmes, because then the groups can use different skills and knowledge of their members. The participating teachers also made a self-evaluation of innovation competences in the beginning and after the full run. The Finnish teachers had a discussion after the project related to innovation competences. We felt that there have been changes in every group in terms of innovation competences, if we compare the situation in the beginning and after the project. We have learned to use creative solutions in multitasking-type functions when different cultures meet with each other as well as inventiveness with using resources. We also had to react quickly and find new kind of solutions. Related to critical thinking, we started from the theoretical basis to solve the practical assignment, which then was brought back to theory in the case studies that students wrote related to their company assignments. This system brought new perspectives to students but also to us. During this project the knowledge and understanding of different cultures has increased compared with former projects. We have gone much deeper to the implementation of teaching and we have noticed that every culture has their own traditions in education. Therefore, as a whole, this practical project gave useful information for the companies and good experiences for the participating students and teachers. The project will end by 31 August 2019, but the co-operation with the partner countries will go on. Some new countries have also introduced this concept. Therefore, if your company is interested in markets in Belgium, Croatia, Finland, Germany, Netherlands, Spain or Switzerland, please look at the Intense webpage and contact the contact person of your own country: smes-participation/. For more information of the project:

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Tasting beer and boosting your international experience? Annette Ammeraal Drs, HU University of Applied Sciences, Utrecht, the Netherlands How can students boost their international experience? Well, there are various ways to do this, travelling is for sure the most popular one amongst students. However, five European Higher Educational Institutions offer a professional opportunity for boosting international experience. Since September 2016, institutions from Finland (Turku University of Applied Sciences), Germany (HTW), Netherland (HU), Belgium (UCLL) and Croatia (J.S. University of Osijek) are working together on an Erasmus+ Project called INTENSE (INTernational Entrepreneurship Skills Europe) (www.intense. The partners aim to promote the internationalization and entrepreneurial and innovation skills of students. First of all, the educational institutions are offering the students state-of-the-art education, courses on entrepreneurship, and internationalization. Students apply theoretical concepts in case studies. However, the most challenging and unique opportunity for students in this programme is to work for real life companies in international student teams. How is this organized? Each university proposes a few consultancy projects, in which companies ask for advice on their internationalization strategies. To make it clear, here are a few examples: • How can a Dutch cookie brand expand its market in Finland? • What are the options for a Finnish Butterfly Feeder in the Netherlands? • Are there partners in the German Market for a Dutch consultancy firm? • What is the best way for a Belgian beer brand to enter the German and Dutch market? • Where are possibilities for Croatian shoes to get a foot on the ground in the Netherlands?


Photo: Shutterstock.

Students are delighted to work for a beer brand or a cookie brand. In addition, of course the projects start with tasting the products. Students from two countries work together on the project. For example, a team from Belgium works together with a Dutch team on the beer project. An important aspect of the project is to get in touch with potential distribution partners. Students need to visit beer shops, specialty beer stores and specialty beer bars. Not a bad job for a student. This field work is combined with research on the amount of beer consumed, the trends within the specialty beer market and the competition in the speciality beer market. An important element is to find out what trade shows are relevant for the beer company. The efforts from both the Belgian and the Dutch students result in a specific advice on how the beer brand could enter the Dutch market. What really adds value to this project was the project meeting that we organized in Berlin. All five universities were present, during a full week in Berlin at HTW with several student teams. Students could physically work together, and continue the work that they started virtually. According to the students that really made a huge difference. Luckily, we also had a few companies present at the meeting. Tutors from the university were guiding the student work.

Journal of Excellence in Sales


The participating companies’ reactions are very positive: the students provide hands-on relevant information, they come with a concrete list of potential partners, they contribute to our internationalization strategy and most of all, they are very creative in finding vlogger and social influencers that could promote our company abroad. The student reactions were not any less enthusiastic: ‘I never expected that I could come up with real suggestions for the company and I was very happy that the company proposed me to continue working for them’. The projects is a great occasion to network and to create a European network between students, lecturers, tutors and SME entrepreneurs.

What else does the INTENSE project consist of? To increase entrepreneurial, internationalization and innovation skills of SMEs, the INTENSE partners also developed an entrepreneurial toolkit for SMEs. SMEs are not only able to receive tailormade advice on their internationalization policy from student teams; they can also use a Toolkit with information, links and tools related to internationalization. In order to offer state-ofthe-art teaching material to students, the five educational institutions exchange and develop teaching material on internationalization. The INTENSE project is an open source programme, promoting open access. This means that the project outcomes can be utilized free-of-charge by any interested university.

Photo: Shutterstock.

Journal of Excellence in Sales



Sales excellence at BusinessAcademy Emmanuel Querrec Senior Lecturer (International Business) at TUAS Jonas Bezzour Bachelor Student, Sales Department Manager at Osuuskunta Noxit Group at TUAS* Junior startup at BusinessAcademy BusinessAcademy is a learning path for second-year Bachelor business students. Students incorporate, with about 15 other students, into a newly registered company (a co-operative company = osuuskunta). The challenge for the team is to go through the form, storm, norm and perform team stages (Tuckman, 1965) while ideating and productizing, as well as ensuring quality through the plan-do-check-act iterations (Deming, 1986) and last but not least: selling. Taking a Sales Manager position is not a typical first choice for business students. It requires passion to cope with the next potential customer, concentration on adapting to the persons and situations where emotional intelligence is critical, or put simply, a taste for challenge…

Building a career path as a sales department manager For Noxit Sales Department Manager Jonas Bezzour, the interest in sales started from a bicycles and ski equipment selling summer job. As a summer trainee, one may be afraid of occasions where knowledge of the product is limited. As time goes by, selling can become easier, and feel more natural. When decisions about department positions in Noxit group were made, Jonas addressed that B2B selling fell under his interests and that he had consumer selling experience as an advantage. “I wanted to know more about B2B selling and put it in action”, remembers Jonas. A Sales Manager’s week starts with a busy Monday. First, the cooperative holds a meeting were general issues are tackled. Then the sales department meeting takes place. The department staff go through the current week’s to-do errands and set deadlines concerning the projects or different tasks required by the Board of Directors. The Sales Manager’s role is to plan and lead sales activities, support other members of the sales team, stay on track of what has been done, add value and innovate whenever possible. Every other Monday at BusinessAcademy, we participate in the so-called “tribe shout” (Heimohuuto), held by our Community Manager, and in


which every cooperative of BusinessAcademy participates. Cooperatives pitch on their project updates, external guests are invited, possible new projects are offered, and events are announced as well as promoted. Heimohuuto reinforces the community feeling and increases the speed of information across BusinessAcademy’s cooperatives.

Sales innovation After a semester of doing things in what then seemed to be “the good old way”, there was a need for a fresh approach to doing sales for the student cooperative. That’s when we thought about how to collaborate better with Erasmus exchange students. We thought about fully exploiting the capabilities of: • Finnish students to find Finnish companies in Turku Region interested to export but without having the motivation, financial capacity or human resource to do so, and • Exchange students to perform feasibility market studies abroad, and • Exchange students to find companies abroad interested to export to Turku Region (import from the Finnish perspective), and • Finnish students to perform feasibility market studies in Turku Region / Finland. We decided to call this sales project the Import Export Sessions, with a 2-hour steering meeting per week and a weekly sprint (cf. lean project management) based action plan for solving various sales issues: ideating, creating sales templates, sales cost optimization, script-based pitching, calling, writing, visiting, etc…

Sales operations in junior startup For a newly registered company, the sales strategy was unclear at the beginning, which was mostly due to the incomplete productization process. Hence, the team determined what were the critical skills and

Journal of Excellence in Sales


strengths, and after that, we started thinking what services Noxit Group could offer. The next issue was to find out how to sell our services. We started specifying what kind of projects Noxit Group wanted to do and the resources needed to achieve them. We looked for the right companies, starting with examining their websites and financial data. This helped us to target the correct companies. Figuring out possible needs beforehand gave a good underlay to work with. Noxit Group sales department’s atmosphere is very start-up-like: flexible and transparent. We work in an open office environment, so not a single day goes by without interacting with each other. Sharing information is crucial when thinking about sales work; we help each other and motivate the team through hard days. Noxit Group has different departments, with their own roles and tasks; however, the work between departments is also important. When a new project is starting, project members are picked based on their interest and skills. Because of this process, project teams often consist of people from different departments. This helps offering different perspectives to project work and into the sales process itself. Like any organization, the sales department constantly works together with the board. The board gives the mission and strategy to guide the department’s operations. The main topic of dialogue and cooperation between the sales department and the board is customer acquisition.

The main task of the sales department is to help the cooperative members to sell in harmony with the standards developed by the sales team. The Sales Manager creates different types of templates and instructions and adds them to the cloud database for every individual to access and use. The sales team is responsible for leadership in customer acquisition, while it is everyone’s responsibility to do the job in the cooperative. Sales control is done via our CRM programme, which shows every business inquiry done by phone or email. Sales and marketing departments use social media to acquire new customers and followers. Attending events also supports branding and customer acquisition. Marketing and sales departments typically collaborate to select the events. Events have shown to be critical in reaching target groups for face-to-face selling.

Sales competence is an asset for the future It is a great experience for a student to develop both leadership and communication competences while working in a selling department during the time of studies, and dealing with customers on an everyday basis. The learning journey at BusinessAcademy builds empowered and value adding students, with a unique asset and readiness for working life. *With contributions from Max Puhakainen (Manager and Team Leader at Osuuskunta Noxit Group), and Ada Avenius (Communication Manager at Osuuskunta Noxit Group).

Emmanuel Querrec, Ada Avenius, Jonas Bezzour and Max Puhakainen.

Journal of Excellence in Sales



Wishing all our readers a great summer!

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