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Journal of Excellence in Sales Japanese Business Culture

10th Best Seller Competition

Selling Locally and Globally

Best Seller

Contents 4 5

Editor’s Letter

7 7 9

INFOBOX BBA Sales Professionals at Fonecta



International Sales Perspectives

Business in Japan


Sini Jokiniemi

Boosting Sales and Crossing Boundaries Liisa Kairisto-Mertanen

Aino Lindroos

Job Opportunities at Accountor Enterprise Sini Jokiniemi

Career Story of a Sales Professional Sami Lahtinen

Why Sales Is the Best Possible Place to Work, Learn and Develop? Petri Maliranta

15 15 17

INFOBOX Shonindo – The Soul of Japanese Sales and Marketing

21 24 27 28 28 30

Toshimi Aishima

Shinji Honge

The Roots of Omotenashi Reflected on Contemporary Japanese Service Culture Can a Cup of Coffee Create Worker’s Satisfaction? Ask Nestlé Japan Kazuko Deno

Visualizing the Value Produced by Sales Activity Kotaro Mukai

Being an International Student in Turku, Finland Makoto Chiba

INFOBOX HAN– High-ranking Dutch University with Sales in Its DNA Stefan Renkema

Development of New Master’s Programme in Marketing Intelligence and International Sales Strategy at IAE Montpellier

International Master’s Studies in Germany – Chasing after New Challenges and Further Education in B2B Sales

32 33 35

Malvina Cieslak, Léa Martin-Chantereau, Nisrin Ziani, Kerim Karatas, Antoine Vertuaux, Arthur de Montessuy, Benjamin Givry & Gaetan Coatleven

Lassi Seppälä

Join an Inspiring Sales Conference in Panama City, June 2019 Pia Hautamäki

Intercontinental Boost for B2B Sales Education Harri Lappalainen

Journal of Excellence in Sales



A Story of How Sales Semester Changed My Life

39 39 42

INFOBOX Dragon’s Den at Raisio Group

Learning with Companies

Joonas Koivuniemi

Sini Jokiniemi

Career at Osuuspankki – UAS Studies Built Strong Foundation for Working Life Maria Koponen


For Better Sales

46 46

INFOBOX From Bachelor Students to Colleagues at Work

Sales Alumni

Anniina Hellman

Johanna Heikkilä and Essi Martikainen



Miikka Nurmi

Service Productization Matti Nikander

INFOBOX How to Sell Circular Economy Knowhow? Piia Nurmi

SMErec Brings Companies and Students Together Aino Lindroos

Panel Discussions and Job Seeker Experiences Sanni Intonen

The Zigzag of Recruitment Processes

Research and Development Projects

51 51 53 54 57

My First Months at Award Winning Sales Organization

Heidi Oksanen

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 Printed by: Painotalo Painola, Turku 2018 Layout: Hiiop Media

Editor-in-chief: Sini Jokiniemi | sini.jokiniemi@turkuamk.fi Editorial board: Sini Jokiniemi Mirva Virtanen Jaana Kallio-Gerlander Timo Holopainen Aino Lindroos

ISSN (printed): 2343-5291 ISSN (online): 2489-2203

Journal of Excellence in Sales



Editor’s Letter Sini Jokiniemi Principal Lecturer at TUAS, Sales Excellence Center Nowadays artificial intelligence (AI), chatbots, automation, robots and all kinds of technological innovations have joined us human beings in the working life. There seems to be an endless list of tasks that high-tech solutions can take care of much more efficiently than humans ever did. Less errors, more accuracy, no problem working 24/7, no labour strikes… Business professionals – both buyers and sellers – seem to be looking for a new balance. Although technology can help us achieve amazing things, there seems to be a limit to what extent business professionals want to outsource their working life. What are the specific competences and contents of our daily work that we do not want hand over to technology? What is so complex, fragile, innovative, risky or framed with the need for emotional intelligence that it can only be left with us people? When human beings meet in the same time and place, shake hands and discuss with each other, something unique and magical happens. In comparison, it is quite different to physically meet with a robot or to communicate with a chatbot. The

new balance business professionals are looking for is about choosing the right kind of hybrid out of the available human and non-human options – meaning that we should enjoy the easy efficiency technology offers us and, at the same time, cherish our humane capabilities. Future sales talents will thrive when they develop their interactional competences to the fullest. Especially in solution sales, face-to-face business discussions are still needed at the end of the selling process. These meetings are so pivotal for the customers that they prefer to handle the issues in person with a salesperson instead of using a technological form of communication. At the same time, customers place high expectations on these face-to-face meetings which are only arranged after careful consideration. Although the number of faceto-face meetings has declined, their importance has become underlined as a crucial element affecting the customer experience in business settings. This scenario highlights the importance of successful interaction skills that all business professionals should embrace.

Sales researchers enjoying the GSSI evening gala in Vienna, 2018. Second from left: the new president of GSSI, Professor Dawn Deeter-Schmelz from Kansas State University (USA) with her husband (left); Sini Jokiniemi; Professor Marina Prem from FHWien – University of Applied Sciences for Management and Communication (Austria); and Professor Kenichi Hosoi from Hiroshima University of Economics (Japan) with his wife. Photo: Arndt Borgmeier.


Journal of Excellence in Sales


Boosting Sales and Crossing Boundaries Liisa Kairisto-Mertanen Executive Lecturer at TUAS A New Master’s Programme in Professional Sales Started in September 2018 The core concepts in selling are value and interaction. A good salesperson is able to interact with customers, thus contributing to their value creating processes by understanding what customers should be looking for to improve their business. An important aim of sales work is, of course, to make the customers understand how they can succeed with the products and services offered by the salesperson’s company.

The students come from all over southern Finland. They all have at least three years of work experience in their own fields: in business, in engineering, in hospitality management etc. To be able to study in a group consisting of people with completely different backgrounds is the best that the studies can offer them. The programme has a real boundary crossing focus and thus it creates a unique environment for studying sales. As studies are conducted in English, this programme is open for bachelor’s degree holders from all over the world. Like all master’s programmes at TUAS, this one is designed so that the students can keep on working in their present positions while studying. I interviewed three of the students in the group. Shina Pourazami has her origins in Iran, where she has been studying accounting. Marko Holmström is a Bachelor of Hospitality Management and presently lives in Helsinki where he works as an account manager, primarily responsible for new customer acquisition. Joni Viitanen is a Master of Science in Automation and Control Engineering. He comes from Tampere where he works as a manager for sales and customer relations. The rest of the students in the group have their backgrounds either in engineering or in business.

Students of the first professional master’s programme in sales. Photo: Martti Komulainen.

Good salespeople are needed all over Finland, all over the world. To fill the gap, a new programme in professional sales, leading to an MBA (Master of Business Administration) degree, was launched at Turku University of Applied Sciences (TUAS) as part of the Leadership Excellence path at TUAS Master School. Altogether 17 young and bright sales students entered this programme which is tailor made to introduce the latest developments in the field of sales.

Shina Pourazami. Photo: Martti Komulainen.

Journal of Excellence in Sales



Both Marko and Joni have good jobs at the present. Their motivation to study lies in learning more. Shina has not been living in Finland for very long yet. She is highly motivated to study further in order to find a job here. Marko points out that he could have chosen something else to study, as well, but that studying and getting a master’s degree is a must if you want to stay competitive in today’s job market where companies are looking for young but extremely experienced people with good education. You must be able to show what your added value to the hiring company is; in other words, obtaining a master’s degree means increasing your market value. He also states that sales is very close to what he does in his current job and, in this manner, becoming more skilled in sales may prove helpful when thinking about his career further.

Marko Holmström. Photo: Martti Komulainen.

Joni has been working in sales for some time now but so far, his education has mostly been very technical and based on engineering. He wants to learn about influencing people and understanding better the changing behaviour of business customers, also internationally. He expects to learn more through studies such as this master’s programme, compared to a situation where sales training is tailor made for the company he works for. The situations encountered during studies are more versatile, which gives you a wider perspective and keeps you interested.

When asked about the expectations concerning the studies, Marko states that he wants to learn about the sales tools for both today and the future, as everything in the business context is changing very fast. Joni points out that in studying together with students with different backgrounds the advantage is that you might get ideas which are new to you but perhaps exist for your fellow students. This way, everybody benefits from the communication between students. After listening to different people you will gradually learn to design your own style, as Shina concludes. Returning to the school world is interesting to these adult students, who already have made a career in the business world. They say they like the school atmosphere and enjoy connecting with their fellow students, who are approximately of the same age and in a similar career situation. People are eager to learn, which represents a positive experience. After finishing her studies, Shina would like to start studying for her PhD and finally find a career as a teacher. Marko expects to become more involved in sales development in future and maybe train other sales people internally regarding how to sell and how to take care of the sales process. Joni’s present job is to sell and carry out projects and be an expert in them, which he likes very much. He wants to develop his work so that his company can expand and acquire a larger market share in Finland. At the same time, however, he would also like to work more with international markets in future. Developing the Master School further is currently a burning issue at Turku University of Applied Sciences. These sales students are now in the beginning of their two-year long journey. It is going to require perseverance and effort of them. However, it is certain that at the end they will have thoroughly new kind of competences and that they will develop themselves into key players in the future labour market, where their future employers will be queuing for them.

Joni Viitanen. Photo: Martti Komulainen.


Journal of Excellence in Sales


Best Seller Competition: 10th Anniversary Competition on 11 April 2019

Selling is about interaction skills and the willingness to step out of one’s comfort zone is required of the salesperson. But when you survive in the jungle, you feel like a winner! This is what sales competitions are all about: simulating real-life business discussions and putting one’s learning to the test. This section of the journal covers the forthcoming 10th anniversary Best Seller Competition in 2019. We are proud to introduce our main partner Fonecta, gold partner Accountor Enterprise Solutions (on the front cover) and Mercuri International acting as a Sales Booster in the competition. For more information on other partners and the competition, visit www.bestsellercompetition.fi.

BBA Sales Professionals at Fonecta Aino Lindroos Project Coordinator at TUAS

Fonecta is the head sponsor of the 10th national Best Seller Competition in 2019. One of the first things to notice when planning Best Seller Competition was that there are a few sales students from TUAS already working for Fonecta. We therefore decided to ask them how they feel about sales education, their work in Fonecta and Best Seller Competition. These three sales professionals are

Account Managers Aino Mattila and Niko Aho and Media Specialist Ninni Mäkinen. All three, Aino, Ninni and Niko, have graduated within two years from TUAS as Bachelors of Business Administration and specialized in professional sales. A while after graduation they were hired by Fonecta.

Journal of Excellence in Sales



“My usual work week consists of booking meetings with customers on Mondays. From Tuesday to Thursday, there are meetings with customers, and on Fridays I primarily study our products and services, close offers and discuss the cases with my colleagues and superiors”, Account Manager Niko Aho describes his work week. In the following, Media Specialist Ninni Mäkinen describes her work: “I deal mostly with small and medium enterprises with a range of industries. I contact entrepreneurs by phone and help them keep up with the digitalization in business world and find ways to help them with it and keep their business successful. We also have trainings and workshops in order to constantly develop ourselves so that we are able to serve the cooperating businesses more efficiently and in the ways they consider the best.”

experience: “Bittersweet.” “Video was horrible but very useful.” “Best Seller Competition was hands down the best.” Aino also says that she learned a lot about her personality and strengths during the competition. Niko encourages future participants to remember the ABC of selling and time management when discussing with the customer in the competition situation.

Aino, Ninni and Niko all think that their education at TUAS corresponds with their current work. “It has been great to put into practice the things I learned at TUAS. Of course, it takes time to be a master, sometimes it’s even annoying when I know how things ‘go by the book’ but I am not able to do it yet. Every day getting closer, step by step”, Aino reflects.

“Enjoy your time in school, study and network! Niko adds: “Everything comes down to understanding what is good for the customer and to being able to match that with the right products and services.” Aino, Ninni and Niko have also competed in Best Seller Competition. They look back to the

Aino Mattila, Ninni Mäkinen and Niko Aho.

Fonecta is the biggest digital marketing partner in Finland. During the past 15 years, Fonecta has transformed its business from traditional information searching operations into a fully digital service provider, the largest media house in Finland. Fonecta offers extensive digital services to its customers and helps Finnish companies and citizens find each other. Every day, over 1 million searches are conducted in the various channels offered by Fonecta.


Journal of Excellence in Sales


Accountor Enterprise Solutions combines a strong expertise in core business processes, digital innovation, and business platforms like Microsoft Dynamics 365 and NetSuite for the benefit of our customers. Accountor Enterprise is a leading Microsoft Dynamics 365 and NetSuite expert both in Finland and internationally. We employ over 100 specialists. Accountor Enterprise Solutions is a part of Accountor Enterprise business area, which provides CRM and ERP solutions, and ICT services to its business customers of all sizes in seven countries.

Job Opportunities at Accountor Enterprise Sini Jokiniemi Principal Lecturer at TUAS, Sales Excellence Center Anu Valtanen works as an HR Manager at Accountor Enterprise Solutions. She is willing to share the tricks of the trade and a few inside tips on how to be more successful when looking for a new job. Let’s start with open applications. Many job seekers are not sure whether it is a good idea to submit an open application to a company, when no suitable jobs are on offer. “One should absolutely leave an open application! Activity is the key element. In addition to submitting an open application, it is advisable to contact the potential employer by phone. During the phone call you can find out the kind of positions the company has on offer in general and what you – as a talented applicant – could offer to the company”, encourages Anu. As part of her daily job Anu goes through a number of job applications. If you want to catch her attention,

“Motivation is the number one competence!”

Anu Valtanen

your application should be carefully constructed, clearly highlighting your key competences and underlining the reasons why you are interested in a certain position. And remember, less is definitely more when it comes to resumés. Keep your application and resumé clear and simple.

Journal of Excellence in Sales



Anu also advises job seekers to call the company before the application deadline. It is an opportunity for the job seeker to tell more about themselves and to ask further questions. During the job interview, the interviewees should be themselves as well as bring out their motivation, competences and development areas. And remember, an active LinkedIn account is always a plus! When it comes to the one key competence that matters the most in sales related positions at Accountor, Anu knows the correct answer right away: “Motivation is the number one competence! When you have motivation and a right kind of attitude, you have the ability to learn new things and to develop. Here at Accountor Enterprise you have

an opportunity to familiarize yourself with all the phases in the sales pipeline. For a result-oriented and enthusiastic young talent, we offer good promotion opportunities as well as a chance to challenge yourself in a dynamic work environment. We look for talents who are quick to learn, have a high level of energy and goal-orientation. In addition to passion, perseverance and guts to challenge the management level, one should be able to communicate both in Finnish and English.” Overall, Accountor Enterprise offers a variety of job opportunities for seasoned experts and young talents. Anu is constantly interested in new program developers, technical architects, system experts, project managers and talents for financial management and sales.

Career Story of a Sales Professional Sami Lahtinen Customer Success Manager at Accountor Enterprise Solutions In 2009 I was 18 and just about to graduate from upper secondary school. We were supposed to decide what to do next in our lives; where and what to study, and which profession to pursue. I was sitting at a dinner table with my parents, both of whom are IT professionals. They discussed the day’s work just like they had been doing forever. It was then when I loudly expressed that no matter what I do, I don’t want anything to do with IT, ever, when it comes to working life.

Sami Lahtinen

organizations. It’s almost ironic but goes to show that life rarely goes the way you plan it.

“I have worked at construction sites, in convenience stores and for a brewery selling beer to supermarkets.”

Fast forward nine years and here I am, sitting in a comfortable office chair with the goal of selling Enterprise Resource Management systems, the very core of the IT architecture in most medium and large


I have worked at construction sites, in convenience stores and for a brewery selling beer to supermarkets. I studied International Business in a university of applied sciences where I specialized in Human Resources Management for Global Business. So how does someone who sells beer and studies HR end up selling ERPs to the biggest companies in Finland? Sir Richard Branson has said, “If you don’t know how to do something, say yes and learn how to do it later”. That’s how.

Journal of Excellence in Sales


As a part of my degree programme, we were supposed to work for six months in a job related to our HR specialization studies. Finding a position was more than difficult, as the economy was regressing and no company was looking for HR people. Eventually, however, I managed to find a job with no pay in one of the biggest logistics providers in the world. During that time, a position opened within the company in their production team, which is responsible for organizing the whole shipping process from pickups to deliveries. I, not knowing anything about logistics, applied for the job. In the interview I asked which one they would prefer: a logistics expert who has lost all enthusiasm and motivation but knows the job well, or someone who knows little but is willing to give his all to learn and succeed? Needless to say, after the period in the HR department ended, I started working as a traffic co-operator. In that job I was in a close relationship with many customers, and I started to notice that I did really well with them. As my expertise grew, I began to create more value for our customers by suggesting and providing them services they did not even know existed. Some might call this selling and I realized I loved it, even so much that I wanted to make it my job. So, when a competitor called me and offered me a position as a Field Account Executive, I seized the opportunity and took it.

“It felt like home right from the start.” A few years in the old-fashioned and stiff logistics industry will do miracles to an agile and fast-moving person like me. The IT systems the industry uses date back to the 80s, which means that data is entered manually in multiple places and you really have no clue what happens and where because information is not easily available. When you’re used to Google,

Facebook and user interfaces that look like candy, a green-on-black IBM AS400 is kind of off-putting. So I wanted to change that and the best way do so is by working in a field that provides help. That field is IT. I applied and was accepted for a sales position in a small software company providing software for the health care industry. It felt like home right from the start. The software actually had a big impact on our customers’ everyday life, and we managed to create value by streamlining our customers’ processes. I did really well there and exceeded all revenue and closing rate goals despite having no experience in IT or health care industry. Attitude matters, and your willingness to go an extra mile for your customers.

“Good things come from hard work, dedication and the ability to step out of your comfort zone.” After a while I was approached by a sales director of our sister company who had secretly been listening to me making cold calls. He directly asked if I had any interest working for them selling ERP & CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software targeted at medium and large organizations. I had no clue what was even the purpose of an ERP, not to mention how to sell them. Naturally, I said yes. I started soon after, and so far I have had the time of my working life. Selling complex business platforms is extremely difficult but also highly rewarding. Good things come from hard work, dedication and the ability to step out of your comfort zone. My career journey so far has been amazing and I wouldn’t do anything differently. However, it has been challenging and stressful at the same time, but if I didn’t want it that way I wouldn’t be in sales.

Journal of Excellence in Sales



Why Sales Is the Best Possible Place to Work, Learn and Develop? Petri Maliranta Head of Sales Performance Consulting, Mercuri International Without a doubt, sales is the best possible place to work, learn and develop oneself. This I have learned through my own, 20+ years spent with sales and sales management. In addition, I have been able to meet hundreds, if not thousands, of sales professionals and the feelings, experience and energy I sense from them assure me every day of this occupation. My own background is in B2B selling, which is also the perspective applied in this article.

What is Selling? First of all, it is good to define what selling is. Selling can be defined in various ways. It refers to, for example, helping customers succeed in their business, understanding the customer, helping them find the right solution and pointing out the benefits. Sales is also about interaction, communication and influencing. If selling embraces all these activities, who is the seller in a company? In practice, everyone is a seller, even though it is not printed on one’s business card. Every representative of a company can someway enable the sales-related activities and in sum this will have a cumulative effect on the resulting customer experience.

Sales Is a Critical Function in a Company Sales is a pivotal – even critical – function in every company, because it brings the money to the company. Sales also takes money, so it is the responsibility of the sales function to organize the sales activities in the most cost-effective way. The value of a company is also affected by sales. A company’s worth is formed by its ability to do profitable business and to grow on a long-term basis. Of course profitable growth does not come


Petri Maliranta

without products, production, product development etc., but without a solid selling competence the long-term growth targets will be hard to achieve. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why it is so exciting to work in sales: you get to influence significant issues!

What Kind of Competences Do You Need and Learn in Sales? The ability to understand customers’ business and to generate more value to the business by offering new solutions is particularly highlighted in B2B selling. This notion was demonstrated in a concrete way when a CEO posed a question to a salesperson who represented a company with whom the CEO had had a long-term customer relationship. The CEO asked the salesperson: “You have been a significant service provider for us for several years. I am not actively involved in the daily communication, so kindly tell me how cooperation with your company has helped my company to reach our targets and implement our strategy better?” That was quite a talk, the salesperson told me when reflecting back to the situation. But luckily, the salesperson had been prepared and was able to answer the CEO’s question.

Journal of Excellence in Sales


“On that note, it is no wonder that the customer relationships of the best salespeople may last for decades.” This real-life case is a brilliant example of the influence of a professional salesperson. The salesperson knows the customer’s board of directors and other decision makers, understands their short and long-term goals, is familiar with their strategy and knows which issues matter the most to the customer. Based on this knowledge the salesperson can offer and produce just the right kind of solutions to the customer in a way that truly generates benefits and value for the customer’s business. On that note, it is no wonder that the customer relationships of the best salespeople may last for decades. These kind of salespeople can open up new accounts successfully and often the customer’s business directors want to spar perspectives with talented salespeople. This is also one clear trend in modern selling: a salesperson needs to be able to offer perspectives to customers on matters that are valuable in the customer’s business. A board member of a listed company told a salesperson who was asking for a meeting: “I am fed up with explaining my needs to the salespeople – I can meet with you but I want to hear your viewpoints.” This is once again a good example of sales as an awesome position to work. You get to help customers in their business!

How Is Sales and Marketing Done Nowadays? Sales and sales activities have changed dramatically during the past few years and the changes will continue. And that is great! When working with sales, there are no worries of getting stuck with the same old ways of doing things as long as you yourself are willing to develop. The modern sales and marketing channels offer new ways for customer communication, technology brings new opportunities, and artificial intelligence and data utilization add a scientific note to selling, which has traditionally been considered as an artistic form of work. Good salespeople are able to profile

themselves as gurus in their own fields of speciality and to build a personal brand via social selling activities. When working with sales, you are among of the ones who lead the way in technological development.

Sales Management When working with sales, you are naturally in a position to take in a managerial responsibility. In that role you will get to work with energetic people and you have the opportunity to develop a company’s most important function that is in the core of business. When working with sales, you can feel the vigour. Whether you work as a supervisor or as a salesperson, not everything is about flying high with clear blue skies. There will always be hardships, and sometimes in sales you feel that you are the first one to struggle with them and that there are more than enough of challenges. Customers give direct and instant feedback both on your successes and your failures. Being able to stay strong and cope with negative feedback is one of the crucial competences in working life. The better able you are to handle the negative feedback, the stronger you will be as a professional.

Final Words I have now gone through some of the key experiences and competences related to selling. I can warmly recommend working with sales to everyone. Even if you did not work in sales for your whole career, first-hand experience in sales and sales management gives you a superb starting point for any other kind of position. And as a last bonus: if you really push hard and proceed in your career, you may gain the opportunity to work as a consultant developing the sales function, like I have!

Journal of Excellence in Sales



Why Is Sales the Best Place to Work in a Company? 1. In terms of the value of the company, you work in a critical function. 2. You will learn important influencing skills. 3. You get to help customers succeed in their daily work and business. 4. You get to utilize new technologies in sales and interaction. 5. You will learn a lot about various businesses and companies. 6. You can build a personal profile as a top expert. 7. You will learn self-management skills and the ability to learn from obstacles. 8. Sales management is an interesting and versatile job where you get to take an overall look at the business. 9. Selling is about cooperating with great people. 10. Sales and sales management experience give a great boost for your whole career.

Mercuri International is an international consulting and training company focusing on sales, customer service and related management. Mercuri International is your partner, when you want to test the power of your sales engine, sharpen your sales strategy, streamline your sales organization’s processes, improve sales management efforts, implement new procedures or develop competences and skills. We operate in over 70 countries, in over 30 languages. Learn more at www.mercuri.fi.


Journal of Excellence in Sales


Business in Japan

Japan is a fascinating East-Asian country with 128 million inhabitants (to compare: the surface areas of Finland and Japan are roughly equal, however the population of Finland is only 5.5 million). Japan offers an exciting hybrid of modern technologies and ancient traditions. Next you will learn more about shonindo (ethics and soul of business) and omotenashi (Japanese hospitality) as well as about value-based service logics and the experiences of a Japanese student living in Finland.

Shonindo – The Soul of Japanese Sales and Marketing Shinji Honge PhD, Kwansei Gakuin University Osaka, Japan

Shinji Honge

In Japan, the business philosophy shonindo was born during the Edo era (1600–1867). Shonindo is the foundation of Japanese sales and marketing. I discuss the renaissance of shonindo in today’s sales education.

Introduction Inazo Nitobe (1900) wrote and published “Bushido: The Soul of Japan” in English. It became a bestseller all over the world and was translated into 17 languages. He described the Japanese merchant’s moral as follows: “Our merchants of the feudal period had one distinguishing feature among themselves, without which they could never have developed, as they did in embryo, such fundamental mercantile institutions as the guild, the bank, the bourse, insurance, checks, bills of exchange, etc.; but in their relations with people outside their

vocation, the tradesman lived too true to the reputation of their order.” Merchants have a long history and it is interesting to study how the history is reflected on the Japanese business life of today.

Background As long as there have been people, goods and services have been sold and bought in different marketing environments. Originally, a salesperson was called

Journal of Excellence in Sales



“peddler”. In Japan, there is an activity record of peddlers in the Emperor Suiko’s reign (592–628), and the number of merchants continued to increase in the Nara era (710–794). There were almost no cases that a medieval merchant settles at any fixed place. All merchants belonged to a specific guild (za). The guild held the monopoly of fixed goods and was also limited to its business area at the same time. There was often trouble between the merchants, but they did not encroach each other. It is the Edo era (1600–1867) during which merchants played an active part in particular. After the Edo era, industrial capitalism enters economic thinking and this changes the setting for the economic actors in Japan. The status of merchants declined because the industrial capital did not require merchant’s agency. An industrial company managed their sales through an agency of the direct management held for each place. And then, marketing was introduced by the United States after the Second World War.

“As water runs naturally, also the person should live naturally. While a person’s life is repeated, the way the person should live his life is fixed. Shonindo reflects how the merchant should live his life in the role of a merchant in an ideal manner.”

Merchants received education and often resorted to a seminal book called “Shobai Ourai”. The idea of the book was to offer “food for thought” – one should study it independently and to reflect and ponder over the ideas. The book was widely used in merchants’ education for over 200 years. The book offered three main chapters, covering topics such as commercial terminology, general terminology (product names) and terminology for living a morally ideal life of a merchant. When a merchant read and learned this book, it was possible to acquire the minimum knowledge necessary for a business. Unfortunately, no such textbooks are available for Japanese business people nowadays. REFERENCES Mikami, T., (1979). Sales Management. SENBUNDO. (In Japanese) Miyamoto, M., (1954). Japanese commercial history outline. PHP Institute. (In Japanese) Miyamoto, M., (1982). Study of Japanese merchant’s way. Sekaishisosha. (In Japanese) Matsuo, T., (2009). Recommendation of the SHONINDO. fujiwara-shoten. (In Japanese) Nitobe, N., (1905). BUSHIDO: The soul of Japan. G.P. Putman’s Sons.

Historical Review Shonindo is the system of ethics which was advocated by Baigan Ishida and others in the middle of the Edo era. Shonindo embraces equality of work and the value of the merchants. The term shonindo ends with the syllable “do”, which is often used in Japan in relation to various ways of doing different activities (e.g. kendou = (doing) Japanese martial art; shodou = (doing) Japanese calligraphy). These activities are among the so called Japanese dou culture. Japanese business history scholar Miyamoto (1982) describes dou in the life of a merchant as follows: “As water runs naturally, also the person should live naturally. While a person’s life is repeated, the way the person should live his life is fixed. Shonindo reflects how the merchant should live his life in the role of a merchant in an ideal manner.”


Journal of Excellence in Sales


The Roots of Omotenashi Reflected on Contemporary Japanese Service Culture Toshimi Aishima PhD Candidate at Kwansei Gakuin University, Osaka, Japan

Toshimi Aishima

Omotenashi has now become a buzzword in Japan. It seems that people came to understand the unique value of the behaviors and attitudes which they repeat unconsciously in their daily lives and business scenes. Many talk about omotenashi provided at Japanese ryokan (traditional hotel) or ryotei (high-grade Japanese restaurant), focusing on the uniqueness, or “Japanese-ness.” They tend to leave behind the question: what is the definition of omotenashi? To solve the question, it is essential to determine the origin of the concept and define how people have inherited it through the turbulent times, which will give us a hint for the reason why they are able to do omotenashi as they do, especially in business scenes. In this paper, the author focuses on the omotenashi customer service provided at a department store in Tokyo and in karaoke party where Japanese people follow a pattern, or a rule. Then, the author explains how the omotenashi seen in contemporary Japan has roots in the banquet held in the 7th century, and shows briefly how it changed, with a viewpoint of comparative cultural history associated with service marketing. In the discussion, the difference from Western hospitality also becomes clear.

Omotenashi Customer Service Provided at Mitsukoshi Department Store The Mitsukoshi department store, the patriarch of a modern department store in Japan, has been

promoting various initiatives as the addresser of “Omotenashi of Japan” since 2014. It is because they regard the customer satisfaction with their own customer service as the key for survival in such hard times. They have succeeded in raising their customer service to omotenashi level. The characteristics of Mitsukoshi’s omotenashi customer service are as follows: (1) Always prioritize the customers, (2) Never say NO, (3) Treat customers with teamwork, (4) Be a professional in sales and customer service, (5) Be close to the customer’s feelings, (6) Do not cling to the manual, (7) Do more than expected if necessary for customers, and (8) Smile. They are the realization of the ideal set both by the founder of the department store in the Edo period and the first manager in the Meiji era. The author has clarified the essence of the omotenashi customer service of Mitsukoshi by analyzing the appreciation letters from customers available in booklets named “Gifts from Customers” published annually by Mitsukoshi exclusively to its employees. Here, the Modified Grounded Theory Approach (M-GTA) was selected as a research method to put a focus on the contexts of the examples and to discuss what kind of behavior from the salesperson’s part led to customer satisfaction and/or delight (in another paper).

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It is necessary to point out that almost all customers whose opinions were quoted in the booklets were impressed by casual and modest treatment, not by distinct gimmicks. For example, a customer who dropped in at a shoe shop at Mitsukoshi to buy shoe insoles just before closing time on 31 December described his gratitude as follows: “I was going to choose one in a hurry. But the salesperson kindly gave me some suggestions after checking my foot carefully. She even recommended I should try some on. I was very much moved by how they did not care about that it was New Year’s Eve, undoubtedly the busiest day for them. And the goods I was buying were too inexpensive for their efforts!” This is a case where kindness, suggesting skills and professionalism are shown at the same time. The customer also said he was satisfied with the goods, which made walking easy. Here he gave an evaluation of the salesperson’s professional work, but in this context, he did not use the word “moved.” It is for her kindness that he was deeply impressed or moved.

Service staff welcoming customers at Mitsukoshi. Photo: Toshimi Aishima.

Then, what is the mechanism of success in customer service and sales at Mitsukoshi? First, salespersons welcome a customer with understanding consideration, and trying to read the customer’s background in their place. Instead of trying to solve the problem of the customer quickly or propose something to sell, they take time to sympathize with them. (Therefore, it will not directly lead to the sales.) At the same time, the salespersons have high consciousness as professional and make proposals that exceed customers’ expectations in terms of knowledge and skills. These skills are to be acquired by training programs provided by the company. On the other


hand, the reading comprehension for the customers’ backgrounds with understanding and consideration, a core of omotenashi, could not be acquired without voluntary training and personal teaching from senior salespeople. Moreover, the casual and modest behaviors of omotenashi by the employees towards others were also seen outside the store; at the airport, in the subway and on the street, even when they could look the other way, since they did not wear the uniform or the company emblem. The key to solving the question why these people are ready to help others even outside the department store context lies in the phrase that frequently appears in “Gifts from Customers.” They often said, “as I am a person of Mitsukoshi.” The phrase demonstrates their commitment to Mitsukoshi. It is worth emphasizing that the omotenashi customer service at Mitsukoshi raises the value of the ba (place and atmosphere) of Mitsukoshi rather than just leads to sales. Those who are on the ba could feel “Mitsukoshi is nice.” In this point, salespersons, other staff and customers succeed in co-creating value. It is the same as the realization of a sense of unity, the ideal of chanoyu. In Mitsukoshi, both the salespersons, who prepare wholeheartedly, understand and sympathize with customers, and the customers, who appreciate the consideration, contribute to the co-creation of the value of Mitsukoshi. The customer satisfaction leads to the improvement of employee engagement as the “person of Mitsukoshi.” Staff members with high employee engagement attempt to act for customers more than expected, which enhances customer engagement in its turn. Hence, the omotenashi customer service at Mitsukoshi leads to customer satisfaction and delight, which leads to the improvement of the value of Mitsukoshi. By encouraging the co-creation of the value of the department store rather than emphasizing short-term sales, Mitsukoshi succeeded in raising their long-term customer engagement, engaging salespeople and increasing the quality of sales.

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The Dynamic Change of Omotenashi in Japanese History As shown above, there are voluntary acts for cocreation of values of the ba, to which the participants give explicit priority, both at the department store and at the karaoke party. The core of the acts, the spirit of omotenashi, seen in contemporary Japanese sales and lives has much in common with the banquets held in the court in the 7th century, which are described in the poems in Manyoshu, one of the oldest anthologies in the world.

Mrs Kondo, “okami” of Mitsukoshi, who voluntarily guides the store tour with affluent knowledge of history. Photo: Toshimi Aishima.

Karaoke Party Karaoke party is extremely Japanese in several respects, emphasizing the essence of omotenashi. It is an unavoidable “feast” for Japanese salaried workers, both young and old. Although it seems that participants enjoy singing without thinking, there is an implicit rule that everyone should follow (even an executive). Karaoke rules are indicated on a website and include items “NEVER sing a mellow song in the earlier stage,” “Junior should take care of others’ choosing their songs,” “NEVER show off your talent,” and “Read the air.” Respectable grownups are expected to learn these rules in advance. A karaoke party has a pattern of process, according to which the participants are assigned with certain roles to enliven the atmosphere and to increase the collective and personal value. In order to enliven the atmosphere, participants are supposed to sing proper songs, clap their hands with the correct timing, and encourage others to sing in the suitable way. In a karaoke party, it is necessary to read (the change of) the air before doing anything. The participants are required to contribute to the success of the party without being conspicuous or pursuing the personal value of self-manifestation. In order to realize the collective value, they should refine their singing skills as well as reading skills of the air of the place, which derive from the spirit of omotenashi. It is important to point out that they feel satisfied by contributing to the success of the karaoke party, even if they could not show their own singing skills.

At the banquet, according to what was described in Manyoshu, the ceremony, the attire, the seat and the order of greeting, addressing and utterance, were all strictly prescribed. Poems were important as tools to display political hierarchy. The participants were required not to express their personal feelings in poems but to play their own parts as official, public existence. In other words, they should make poems appropriate considering the mood of the place, caring about the purpose of the banquet and relationships among the members. However, they had no documented rules for such complicated situations. It was crucial that the participants knew the implicit rules, that is, the cultural standard which each member was supposed to share. Assessment of the situation preceded the artistic talent, though the skillful poems spread among the court to become required knowledge for those attending a banquet. The author regards the banquets described in Manyoshu as a prototype of omotenashi, because the characteristics of Manyoshu are reflected in omotenashi provided today: the participants are expected to make the place better, to follow the rules or kata intended for that purpose, to have common (high) education, and to increase their efforts to play their roles better and more perfectly. This leads to another question: how did the essence of omotenashi found in Manyoshu, the Manyo’s banquet, reach the present style? In the Heian period, which follows the Manyo period, the extreme of omotenashi was to be seen where they shared the sensibility based on high education, though the details are not discussed here. At the banquet, both the hosts and guests were deeply impressed by following the kata (the routine).

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In the Muromachi period, there were renga gatherings, where people enjoyed making a long poem collaboratively. Basically, renga means chains of short poems (waka). It consists of two or more phases made by several people collaboratively in turns. First, one person begins a poem with 5-7-5 syllables (a), responded by one with 7-7 syllables (b) made by the next person. The third person adds 5-7-5 syllables (a’) to the 7-7 syllables (b), followed by the fourth making 7-7 syllables (b’) to add the previous one. Participants were supposed to contribute in reciprocal cooperation a complete long poem with a degree of coherence, following the complicated and rigid rules of renga. Renga is a peculiar form of enjoyment in several aspects: first, it has complicated rules, which regulate the styles of adding phrases according to the order of the participant; secondly, it requires a shared culture to create good phrases; and thirdly, the whole quality of renga precedes any individual phrases. The participants follow the complicated rules of making poems in order to realize cocreation of value. The preparation skills and required knowledge were easy to master with professional renga teachers, who shared the outline of The Tale of Genji, and other classic literature. Thanks to the guidebooks, common people were able to participate the gatherings. It is noteworthy that the well-known Japanese tea ceremony (chanoyu) originates from renga gatherings. Both the tea ceremony and renga gatherings have much in common, including the concept of co-creation of value realized among the host and guest(s), who are evenly responsible for the success of the gathering.

Conclusion According to Edward Hall (1976), omotenashi is a form of co-creation of value in the high-context culture. The participants read the air, see the other’s point of view, and give priority to increasing the value of the place rather than their own interests. They avoid pretentious performances to show off or surprise others (even if those are from kindness). In other words, subtlety is respected. The characteristics of omotenashi contrast sharply with the Western idea of hospitality.


For the realization of omotenashi, a recipient (guest or customer) is required to understand the subtle consideration of the other party (host). Japanese people implicitly absorb omotenashi as a natural part of their daily culture rather than acquire it by explicit learning. In their daily lives, they improve the ability; at home, at school, and in the local community. However, in this global society, it is necessary to explore how people with different backgrounds share the ability, how people learn the reading ability of such subtle consideration and appreciate it, and how the Japanese should make their own omotenashi understood by those from other cultural settings. Although omotenashi is a culture-bound phenomenon, it may be applied in other cultures as well in an adapted manner. REFERENCES Aishima, T. & Yoshinobu, S. (2015). “The Origin of Japanese Omotenashi in Man-yo-shu.” Business & Accounting Review (Kwansei Gakuin University), Vol. 16. Aishima, T. & Sato, Y. (2015). “Characteristics of Omotenashi in Renga Gatherings in Comparison with Banquets in the Man-yo-shu.” Kwansei Gakuin University Social Science Review, Vol. 20, pp. 63–78. Aishima, T. & Sato, Y. (2016). “The Origin of Japanese Omotenashi.” Proceedings of the Japan Society of Marketing and Distribution. DeMente, Boye Lafayette (2003). Kata: the Key to Understanding and Dealing with the Japanese, Tuttle. Hall, E. (1976). Beyond Culture. Doubleday, New York. Hibi, O. (1912). The Secrets for Success in Business, Daigaku Kan. (in Japanese) Hiroki, K. (2006). The Spirit and Place of Renga. Kazama Shobo. (in Japanese) Hofstede, G., Hofstede, G.J. & Minkov, M. (2010). Cultures and Organizations, 3rd ed. Mitsui Bunko, ed. (2015). The History of Mitsui. Yoshikawa Kobunkan (in Japanese). Mitsukoshi Isetan Human Solutions (2017). Lessons for Consideration. Kadokawa Shoten (in Japanese) Sato, Y. & Al-Alsheikh, A. (2014). “Comparative Analysis of the Western Hospitality and the Japanese Omotenashi: Case Research of the Hotel Industry,” Business and Accounting Review, 14 (December), pp. 1–15. Sato, Y. & Aishima, T. (2016). Characteristics of Japanesestyle karaoke banquet in comparison with the banquet of Man-yo-shu and renga gathering. Proceedings of the Japan Society of Marketing and Distribution. Ueno, M. (2014). Banquets in Man-yo-shu. Kodansha. (in Japanese)

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Can a Cup of Coffee Create Worker’s Satisfaction? Ask Nestlé Japan Kazuko Deno Ph.D., Researcher at Kwansei Gakuin University, Japan The Nescafe Ambassador Program, Nestlé Japan’s new business model for developing the office coffee market, won the Japan Marketing Award in May 2014 for its excellent marketing activities. Nestlé Japan Ltd. is a leader in domestic instant coffee market and they are also an active player in the production and sales of food and beverages. Nestlé Japan has been operating a large scale promotion named “Nescafe Ambassadors” since 2012 by which it provides a coffee machine for free to individuals who take part in the program. This program is available only in Japan even though Nestlé operates worldwide in approximately 200 countries.

Nescafé Ambassadors The so-called Nescafé Ambassadors place the coffee machine at their workplaces and make it possible for colleagues to enjoy cups of coffee with a little money. Ambassadors are not given monetary compensation from Nestlé. Instead, they get a coffee machine free of charge. Usually the ambassadors place a piggy bank next to the coffee machine and ask people to pay a correct amount of money each time they have coffee. The ambassadors are required to purchase coffee on a regular basis. They are office workers and not associated with Nestlé Japan; however, they are expected to report their problems or opinions to the company. Planning to build a relationship of trust with them, President of Nestlé Japan Takaoka organized a team of 50 sales reps dedicated to dealing exclusively with ambassadors. This team communicated with them personally to explain their role as Nescafé Ambassadors.

Kazuko Deno receiving her PhD Diploma at the graduation ceremony.

Developing the Program Nestlé Japan and the ambassadors have discussed the following issues and solved them through trial and error: How to have their coffee machines placed in offices, how to convince more people to drink coffee at workplaces, what kind of drinking experiences they can deliver, and how they can best receive payments. In 2014, Nestlé Japan asked the ambassadors: “What was your main reason for becoming an ambassador?” Their answers were: “To be able to have good coffee.” (46%) “To be able to make my co-workers feel happy.” (35%) The president realized that this program contributes to “self-realization” of the ambassadors. In Japan, people traditionally have the mind of omotenashi, which focuses on the people in their organization as a whole instead of pursuing self-interests of individuals. Nescafé’s business model evolved from simply selling coffee into providing a way of encouraging

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further communication. The coffee has made workers feel more relaxed, facilitated communication and rebuilt the social interaction and a sense of community at work. This motivates ambassadors and leads to their self-actualization.

Co-creation of Value Nestlé Japan has been developing the Nescafé Ambassador program on the basis of the belief that innovation comes from the insight of consumers. At first, Nestlé Japan found business opportunities in targeting small offices which did not have any vending machines or coffee machines. After this, the target was expanded to mid-sized offices, community centers and public facilities. Solving the problems of clients as well as expanding sales channels has enabled Nescafé to increase the number of its business partners. As a result, the value created between the company, ambassadors and customers have changed from basic value to social value. President Takaoka mentions that in developed countries it is essential to search for potential value and create business models which can provide that value to customers. The Nescafé Ambassador program is a successful example of such model.

Could Nescafé Ambassador Model Work in Any Country? The author believes that this program worked successfully because of the Japanese culture. Since Japanese have a collectivistic culture, we prioritize the organizational interests over the individual’s interests. The author asked Dr. Sini Jokiniemi, Principal Lecturer in Sales at TUAS, to gather opinions about this program in Finland. The following questions were asked: • What do you think about selling or promoting some products or services at your workplace to your colleagues? • Why do you think some people do that? • What are your first thoughts of the Nescafé Ambassador concept? • Would you like to do something like that? • Why do you think some people are interested in becoming Nescafé Ambassadors? A preliminary summary of answers follows: • The workplace is meant to be a place for working, no extra disruptions are needed. • People would not do this kind of thing without earning money. • It is a kind of a coffee club. • You get the machine for yourself – that would at least be the main motivator. Most of the answers are negative. From this result, the Nescafé Ambassadors program seems to require customization from country to country. It shows clearly the importance of considering the cultural differences when adopting the business model to other country. The aim of the author’s further research is to make clear what kind of an ambassador concept Finnish people would prefer and why. The author believes that by understanding the difference and respecting other cultures, we can innovate relationship marketing. This article is based on a presentation held at the International Conference on Business, Economics, Management and Marketing (ICBEMM) in Oxford, August 2018.


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Photo: Kazuko Deno.

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Visualizing the Value Produced by Sales Activity Kotaro Mukai Senior Lecturer (M.B.A.) at Soai University, Osaka, Japan

Sales activity with personal interactive contact as the core performance to produce customer value often needs advantage to get sales transaction agreement. This advantage will be piled up by contact with the key person to add strong influence toward the customer’s crucial decision on the transaction. I will now focus on the essential connection for developing sales activity, the new systematization of value through a value exchange process and the visualization of the value exchange performance.

Value Creation by Sales Activity The customer value produced by sales activity was systematized into six values: 1) Information Value, 2) Advice Value, 3) Operation Cost Reduction Value, 4) Labor Offer Value, 5) Development Support Value and 6) Other Value (Nakanishi, 2002; Nakanishi & Noborisaka et al., 2010). Information Value refers to appropriate information provided by the salesperson and it reduces the customer’s risk in decision-making and leads to a better decision. Advice Value refers to the salesperson leading the customer in right direction regarding the purchase by providing advice even when the customer does not have a clear intention to purchase. Operation Cost Reduction Value means the salesperson’s activity in the cooperation of the seller and purchaser as supply and demand joint activity by reducing the ratio of the customer’s business burden. Labor Offer Value refers to the salesperson occasionally offering service not related to selling products. Development Support Value involves the salesperson coordinating negotiation 24

with the development or manufacturing sector in order to promote product development from the customer’s standpoint in situations in which the salesperson knows that the current product cannot meet the customer’s needs. Other Value refers to the various matters unrelated to the purchaser’s needs and their solutions.

Value Exchange by Sales Activity I have included more two value factors in the definition of the above-mentioned six values, namely Motivation Value and Learning Value (Mukai, 2018). Motivation Value is the value that brings motivation to the salesperson in terms of their job or mission through the communication between the salesperson and the customer. Learning Value, in its turn, is the value that enhances the salesperson’s or seller company’s knowledge through guidance, advice, rebuke and education regarding the salesperson’s job or mission through communication between the salesperson and the customer. These eight values can be divided into two categories: the value provided for the customer and the value received from the customer. The five values to be provided for the customer include Information Value, Advice Value, Operation Cost Reduction Value, Labor Offer Value and Other Value. The three values to be received from the customer include Development Support Value, Learning Value and Motivation Value. Through this systematization and division into two ways of value logistics, I defined that sales activity is directed to produce and complete the value exchange process through

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direct human contact between the customer and the seller company.

Connection Use for Sales Activity Under the Workshop Sales Activity Style situation (Shimaguchi, 1997), the salesperson supports their customer for solution by close communication in the same place with the customer. By this activity style, Development Support Value will be produced (Nakanishi, 2002). The salesperson should possess director-ship and producer-ship in order to plan the strategy and tactics with a bird’s eye view on the progress of their all business transactions. Kunio Kuroda, the Sales Develop Division Leader of Kokuyo Co. Ltd in the 1990s, introduced the tactics map for business cases among his members. Each member of this division must bring their own map on the member meeting or in communication with leader and manager. This map is useful for the visualization of the advantage towards getting a purchase order from customer, for sharing connection information and for forecasting the next strategy or potential sales and profit volume. By communicating with the tactics map, contact with the key person of transaction and connection becomes increasingly deeper for a more precise transaction strategy design.

By identifying the key person in the project and keeping in contact with them by utilizing the above-mentioned tactics map, the use of personal connection in the sales activity is essential for high performance and in order for the process to result in receiving an order. This connection may take multiple patterns, such as Top Down, Bottom Up, Outside and Private between the seller and customer.

Link between Value and Connection The salesperson pursues to produce and complete the value exchange process through direct human contact between customer and seller company (Mukai, 2017) and carries out sales activity by coordinated use of various patterns of human connection. To increase the volume of transaction, the salesperson should use connections outside the seller company to produce Information Value, Advice Value and Operation Cost Reduction Value by exploiting external connections. This coordinated use of connection will also contribute to adding the volume of Motivation Value and Learning Value. Interpersonal connections affect business in a positive way, leading more easily to next deals. The expanding volume and the chance of new business do not necessarily contribute to real sales performance, but such activity should be counted as precious and important value to build a strong relationship with the customer which is visualized between giving and receiving factors as value exchange. I have re-systemized the value produced by sales activity into those provided for the customer and those received from the customer through altogether ten values. Personal connection can be defined as value to be visualized between the providing and receiving factors as value exchange.

Figure 1. Tactics Map Sample (Abbreviated version).

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Carrying Out


Business Contents

Business Chance


Business Execution


Business Volume


Figure 2. Connection Factors.

Connection Value and Advantage Value Connection involves four factors: carrying out, person, business contents and business chance. These factors can be defined as Connection Value. The process of carrying out refers to tactical business execution with useful information or good support by connection. The person factor means a new connective person to expand the network and deepen the relationship by interactive communication. Business contents will bring new volume of sales and profit into real business transaction and potential business cases. By introducing new products or services, sales activity can extend and cooperation can become closer. Business chance brings the total performance of sales activity with real connection and links to a new relationship and connection. The by-product of business chance with real connection is circulation of connection effect by potential relationship and connection. These very beneficial outputs are facilitated by connection and can be defined as Advantage Value.

productive value management with visualization of the value exchange system as sales activity through converting value to evaluate salesperson’s visible and invisible performance. Thus, these values can contribute to the evaluation of the salesperson’s performance in parallel with sales volume and revenue volume on sales management. I would like to research the development of concrete methods of linking the exchanged values to performance evaluation of salespeople and sales organizations.

Mukai Kotaro (on the right) enjoying dinner gala at the GSSI 2018 conference.

Figure 3. New Systematization of Value Produced by Sales Activity.

Value Visualization and Sales Management

REFERENCES Shimaguchi, M. (1997), The Logic of Flexible Marketing, Diamond Publishing Inc. Nakanishi, M. (2002), The Job of Eigyo, Journal of Business Administration, Kwansei Gakuin University. Nakanishi, M., Noborisaka, N., Kawashima, T., Takigawa, T., Shimizu, Y., Honge, S., Kuwawa, M., Hamada, K., Funakoshi, T., Ueda, T. & Mukai, K. (2010), The Evolution of Customer Value Creation Sales, JTB Human Resources Solutions. Mukai, K. (2018), The Exchange of Value Produced by Sales Activity, Global Sales Science Institute 12th Annual Conference Proceedings, pp. 2–4.

By adding two new values to the existing eight values, the seller company can equip the positive and 26

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Being an International Student in Turku, Finland Makoto Chiba Bachelor of International Business Online, TUAS Student ambassador of Southwest Finland

Who Am I? What will you do after graduating from university in Japan? This is what many of my Japanese friends and teachers asked me. I always answered that my dream was to become an international student in Turku. My name is Makoto Chiba and I am from Japan. It has been a year since I started studying International Business at Turku University of Applied Sciences. During the past year, I have learned and experienced many things through different activities and events and by meeting new people. The main reason why I decided to study at TUAS as an international student is strongly related to my student exchange period in Finland back in 2013. During my student exchange, I was impressed by how diverse people are here and astonished by how different the studying methods and the student culture at TUAS is, especially compared to the technical school in Japan where I used to study. From my point of view, students in Finland are very self-independent and open-minded to new challenges such as taking part in different activities as well as participating in different projects and events to brush up their skills. Additionally, most of my fellow students work full-time while studying, which is completely exceptional in Japan.

My Life in Finland While doing my student exchange in Finland was a precious experience for me, moving and living abroad is not as easy as it sounds. There are many things one needs to get used to, such as understanding a different culture and learning a new language.

Makoto Chiba

Since I started my studies at TUAS, I have tried to incorporate myself into the Finnish society by learning the Finnish language and culture. I cannot deny it has been a long journey to make it to the point where I am now. However, I am satisfied with the current situation and I am enjoying my life in Turku.

Learn by Doing During the spring semester 2018, I had the possibility to take part in a hackathon event held in Sendai, Japan. In this event, there were more than 30 international students tackling the problem cases provided by six different Finnish companies. I worked as a facilitator in the event and boosted the communication between Japanese and international students. This event also gave me the opportunity to learn how to better work with international students and guests.

Student Ambassador As a member of the Student Ambassador Network of South-West Finland, I have given presentations about the Turku region as a business, tourism and study destination in front of a large audience several times. The audience usually finds these topics engaging, and their image of Finland becomes clearer when it comes to the business opportunities the city of Turku offers, and the characteristics of the Finnish culture and what they can experience from it. When the audience is satisfied and impressed with the content I present, it motivates me towards even better performances in future and inspires me to continue promoting Southwest Finland and especially the wonderful city of Turku.

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International Sales Perspectives

There is a reason why young talents are encouraged to network on a local and global scale. All the articles in this section showcase what can be achieved based on longterm networking between universities and professionals worldwide.

HAN – High-ranking Dutch University with Sales in Its DNA Stefan Renkema Senior Lecturer of Sales & Marketing at HAN University of Applied Sciences, the Netherlands When you are interested in becoming a sales professional, HAN University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands is a place worth considering! Almost ten years ago, HAN decided to make excellent sales education one of its top priorities. This has resulted in one of the most challenging sales-oriented bachelor’s programmes in Europe. The programme offers students the possibility to develop both their skills and knowledge. For instance, students start the first year of their studies with training both inbound and outbound calling skills. The second-year courses focusing on business development and account management offer them the opportunity to experience the difference between hunting and farming. During year three, there are courses on sales management and international negotiations. The Bachelor’s degree programme in sales was developed in close cooperation with companies and during every course, students have the opportunity to work with or for companies.

Executive Sales Programme In September 2016, HAN launched its executive sales programme. In this 5-month programme students get the opportunity to experience the


sales profession in real life. They work for three days (Monday–Wednesday) per week for a company as account managers, with their own customers and prospects as well as targets. Each Thursday, students train their selling skills coached by trainers of Mercuri International. On Fridays, they work on expanding their more indepth knowledge on a broad range of topics, such as neuromarketing, blockchain and salesforce dynamics. At the end of this programme, students organize an event called “We read for you” (WR4U) in which they arrange workshops to companies, demonstrating what they have learned during the programme. The programme is kicked off by a 48-hour sailing trip on the North Sea. During this trip, students have to manage all aspects of the sailing vessel.

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Doing Business Abroad

HAN style student–company workshops at North Sea. Photo: Stefan Renkema.

Events and Competitions Each year, our students participate in the Dutch Sales challenge. In the two-day challenge, students are trained by sales experts. They also participate in a team selling competition. In recent years, however, the sales profession has become increasingly international, especially for a country as small as the Netherlands. We are therefore happy to be part of the growing community of “sales-minded” universities across Europe. Taking part in events such as the European Sales Competition and the International Sales Week gives our students a real boost in developing not only their sales skills but also their awareness of doing business in different cultures.

Making education more international means a step by step approach to teach the global context. At the beginning of the curriculum, students are taught the theory of sales (and marketing), languages and intercultural awareness. After this, they will experience differences in language and culture through virtual projects, for instance, by attending an online negotiation with students from another country or by participating in a global virtual team for an international assignment. At the end, selected students are able to travel abroad and compete in various sales competitions. An internship abroad in sales is open for all students.

Crossing the Atlantic In 2017, HAN successfully applied for a membership of the University Sales Center Alliance (USCA). The USCA is a consortium of international sales centers connecting university faculty members with many different backgrounds and areas of expertise through teaching, research and outreach. One of the results of this membership is close cooperation with the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in the area of international negotiations. Another result is that in October 2018, a team of HAN students participated in an American sales competition for the first time.

Research Center In 2017, HAN took an important step in advocating the advancement of the sales profession by launching its sales research center. This center is headed by Dr Debra Trampe and its research activities are focused around topics such as the evolution of the seller’s role in the customer journey and the advancement of sales education. Relevance and quality are the foundations of our research efforts. All of our research is conducted in collaboration with various national and international partners. Our findings are distributed among professionals, published in academic journals and shared with students during our courses. In doing so, we aim to contribute to the continuous advancement of the sales profession.

HAN students participating in the European Sales Competition in June 2018. Photo: Stefan Renkema.

Journal of Excellence in Sales



HAN University of Applied Sciences was founded in 1996 as the result of a merger between 3 universities. Since then, the university has developed into one of the larger universities, hosting approximately 30,000 students. Its ranking as the second best large university in the Netherlands underlines its ambition to provide both students and employees an attractive, professional and challenging environment in which to study and work. At HAN, we take sales seriously. We are very happy to see that the community of sales-minded universities is growing. It underlines the fact that sales is not just a job but a challenging profession. In a global world that is becoming increasingly more digital, we see it as our mission to educate sales professionals who are able to add real value to their customers.

Development of New Master’s Programme in Marketing Intelligence and International Sales Strategy at IAE Montpellier Malvina Cieslak, Léa Martin-Chantereau, Nisrin Ziani, Kerim Karatas, Antoine Vertuaux, Arthur de Montessuy, Benjamin Givry & Gaetan Coatleven Students in MIISS (Marketing Intelligence and International Sales Strategy), IAE Montpellier School of Management of Montpellier University, France A new master’s degree programme in the area of sales combined with issues regarding digitalization and globalization is launched this year at the IAE Montpellier School of Management of Montpellier University, in France. Recently, thanks to globalization and the emergence of social media, new jobs such as business developers and social sellers were created to adjust to customers’ evolving needs. In the marketing context, the term “social selling” can take different approaches depending on the context and users of the term, while the general meaning would be “selling by using social media or networks”. The objective of this master’s programme is to train and 30

adapt students to the new distribution context of products and services. In this context, one of the key skills will be to know how to use the mass of information available (also known as “big data”) to optimize the targeting and segmentation of customers, and to create optimized presentations with the help of digitalized media. The idea is to control the image prospects or customers will have of the product, to set up an optimal pricing structure and, of course, to develop creative solutions and make interesting offers to the current or future clients. As soon as students have graduated, they will be able to act in a globalized context. Students will

Journal of Excellence in Sales


know how to process and analyse the information on the market through the different platforms available. They will be responsible for different projects in their respective workplaces and will have the means to target different actions by mobilizing all digital communication vectors (including social media, which is an important business tool nowadays) in order to create content and target the demand in a precise market.

in practice the knowledge and skills they have acquired regarding digital business tools.

One of the positive sides of the MIISS programme is that it’s aptly named; students get to experiment an educational and international business environment during the two years of studies. During the second semester of the first year, they will be given the opportunity to participate in an exchange programme “Students get to experiment an To prepare the students abroad with one of the educational and international business for this international partner universities of environment during the two years of IAE Montpellier. During business context, studies.” the second year, they Christophe Fournier, the creator and director will venture into an of this master’s programme, made sure to cover international internship abroad in a company of subjects such as digital marketing strategy, in which their choice, as long as their tasks are based on the students discover and learn to master pillars of context of international trade. This will help them marketing tools to use in a digitalized business apply in practice the knowledge they have acquired context, all while having the opportunity to apply in the course of the two years of academic lessons what they learned in a professional environment in France and abroad. This way, they will get to through the option of an apprenticeship contract. have a real international vision of how things work, Those who so desire may also carry out a simple how the programme is taught in other universities internship or work on different projects with local and which are the different approaches to digital companies. This helps students to start applying knowledge and its use in different contexts.

University School of Management (IAE) of Montpellier University.

Journal of Excellence in Sales



International Master’s Studies in Germany – Chasing after New Challenges and Further Education in B2B Sales Lassi Seppälä Master of Engineering student (Industrial Engineering) at Aalen University, Germany Turku University of Applied Sciences alumnus Picture a young university student, who is getting close to graduating but has no clue what he wants to do and no particular direction in life. Maybe this sounds familiar to many of you. How did this particular student end up getting extremely inspired and motivated, winning a business to business (B2B) sales competition, getting a sales job with a lot of responsibility before graduating and enrolling as the first international student ever in a German Master’s programme, all within the span of two years? Hard work alone is not enough; what is required is challenging oneself by stepping out of one’s comfort zone. My name is Lassi and I live in Aalen, which is a small city near Stuttgart in Southwest Germany. This city is the home for a university that offers the Master’s programme in Leadership in Industrial Sales and Technology (IST), which focuses on B2B sales and leadership. Aalen University is renowned, among other things, for its technical B2B sales training, which is also the case in my former home university, Turku University of Applied Sciences (TUAS). This is one of the main reasons why I’m in Aalen, as these two universities try to create synergy through combining their sales programmes. The way they intend to do this is by sending Finnish sales engineers with a bachelor’s degree from TUAS to further qualify themselves in Aalen University, like in the case of yours truly. This provides motivated, international students for the IST programme at Aalen, as well as qualified Master’s graduates with


Lassi Seppälä at Global Sales Science Institute’s conference in Vienna, June 2018.

excellent language skills in English and German for the Finnish job markets – or highly competent Finnish professionals for global German companies. So how did I get here in Germany in the first place? In the beginning of the last year of my bachelor’s studies, I decided to do something that I had

Journal of Excellence in Sales


dreaded before – enrol on sales courses. Why was this so intimidating? Well, I always thought that sales was a very brutal career path, where you have to fight others to get paid and even manipulate or lie to customers in the process. However, I also knew it would be a useful skill to learn, so I decided to give it a chance. And boy, was I surprised. I quickly learned that sales is actually all about helping people and bringing something of value to them. In addition, it is an extremely important profession, as without sales there will be no revenue in any company. I became inspired during these sales courses, which was also partly due to our brilliant professor Timo Holopainen. He continuously encouraged us to challenge ourselves and step out of our comfort zones. After taking part and winning the Turku Sales Competition, a B2B sales competition arranged at TUAS, I realized that really challenging oneself not only provides extremely good learning opportunities but also unravels amazing new possibilities. This materialized after the competition, as the Aalen University representatives had seen my performance and inquired if I was interested in studying in Aalen. I had wanted to get more international experience and improve my language skills anyway, and the programme sounded like a perfect match for me.

I felt that this was the next challenge for me to overcome. Once more I stepped out of my comfort zone, this time all the way to Germany. So far, it feels like coming here was the right choice for me. I have learned a lot, improved my language skills immensely and met amazing people. Outside of school I have learned to be more organized, which was necessary in order for me to manage the courses I had in English or German. My learning has also been greatly supported by my new-found interest in reading and especially listening to audiobooks, which I recommend to everyone as it is such an easy way to learn new things. Currently, I am getting started with my Master’s thesis and looking for job opportunities in Germany and elsewhere in Europe. The feeling of not having any idea what the future holds may be daunting for someone – but all I can say is that I am eagerly looking forward to the next challenge to tackle and lacing up my boots for the next leap out of my comfort zone. If you want to learn more about studying in Germany, share or receive book recommendations, or discuss B2B sales or other interesting topics, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn and come say hi. I’m always happy to talk and help in any way I can.

Join an Inspiring Sales Conference in Panama City, June 2019 Pia Hautamäki Principal Lecturer at Tampere University of Applied Sciences; Co-Chair of GSSI Conference 2019 at Global Sales Science Institute (GSSI) The annually held GSSI conference gathers sales researchers from all around the world to collaborate and share results of the latest sales research and sales education. In addition to arranging the conference, GSSI tries to influence the appreciation of sales work and to increase the sales education worldwide. In 2019, Tampere University of Applied Sciences (Tampere, Finland) is co-hosting the GSSI conference

with Little Rock University from Arkansas, US. The conference will be held on 5–8 June 2019 in Panama City, Panama, and you are also invited! Next year is going to be special because we want to invite more company representatives to attend and share their thoughts on the topic of the conference. There are many opportunities to contribute to, for example, the ways of teaching sales in universities.

Journal of Excellence in Sales



As every year, we invite academics to send papers and papers from sales students are particularly welcome. We also offer you a possibility to publish your work in the conference proceedings, referring to the contributions from company side but also from academic side. If you became interested, please read more below about the most relevant conference around sales topics in the world and send your contribution to us co-hosts no later than 9 January 2019. I am honoured to be able to act as a co-host of the GSSI conference and at the same time represent our Finnish universities, which strongly affect the future careers of their young talents by teaching sales in sales degree programmes. If you want to meet sales professors, sales researchers and sales-oriented practitioners from all around the world at the same time, read more below and take this change! CALL FOR PAPERS / Global Sales Science Institute (GSSI) Conference 2019 Sales Ecosystem – Defining and Exploring how Various Levels of Connection and Interaction Affect the Sales and the Selling process Using ecological systems (Bronfenbrenner 1979) as a metaphor, there are five systems of interaction and connection that influence and create sales experiences: Microsystems – The interaction of direct contact or bi-directional relationships i.e. the interaction between the sales representatives and their customers

Chronosystems – The pattern or the history of interactions over the life course of the relationship The GSSI conference of 2019 encourages researchers to develop a theory concerning the interaction and connection that occurs at any of these levels. More specifically, the theory shall examine how the level and the characteristics of interactions in the “sales ecosystem” transform buying, create global business opportunities, affect the adoption and application of technical innovation, and facilitate/ hamper collaboration between marketing and selling operations within a global organization.

Deadlines • Papers and Round Table Submission Deadline: 9 January 2019 • Co-Chairs’ Decision to Authors: 14 February 2019 • Final Formatted Paper Version Deadline: 27 February 2019 For more information about the GSSI Conference, please contact the Conference Co-Chairs: Dr. Lenita Davis University of Arkansas Little Rock, Arkansas, USA lmdavis@ualr.edu Dr. Pia Hautamäki Tampere University of Applied Sciences, Tampere, Finland pia.hautamaki@tamk.fi

Mesosystems – The interaction between microsystems or multidirectional relationships i.e. the interaction between the customer and other people in the sales representative’s organization Exosystems – The indirect connection with individuals and organizations that affect relationships within the microsystem i.e. the customer of your customer Macrosystems – The connection with macro environmental elements that affect sales; this would include the government, the economy, culture etc.


Panama City. Photo: Shutterstock.

Journal of Excellence in Sales


Intercontinental Boost for B2B Sales Education Harri Lappalainen Senior Advisor at TUAS Turku University of Applied Sciences (TUAS) is managing a new three-year B2B sales project targeted to Southeast Asia. The core idea of the new South-East Asian Sales Competition (SEASAC) project is built on the successful and ever evolvingconcept of European Sales Competition (ESC), which will now be localized in Southeast Asia. (More information about the original ESC is available at www. europeansalescompetition.com.) The SEASAC project is supported by the European Commission Erasmus+ Capacity Building programme. In addition to the planned capacity building effects in the selected target market, this kind of knowledge transfer from Europe to Southeast Asia also brings great added value to European partners. Thanks to the active engagement of European B2B sales lecturers and students, deep learning will take place at European partners in a way that would not be possible without the financial support of one-million euro and the authentic Asian context provided by the SEASAC project.

great societal backbone on its impressive associated partners, namely the European Sales Competition Association (ESCA), the Indonesian Ministry for Research, Technology and Higher Education, as well as the Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture.

Liisa Kairisto-Mertanen, Harri Lappalainen and Timo Holopainen. Photo: Martti Komulainen.

The SEASAC consortium consists of four higher education organizations from Europe, five from Indonesia and two from Thailand. This intercontinental cocktail of higher education partners is enriched with the SEAMEO Regional Open Learning Centre SEAMOLEC, which represents all 11 Ministries of Education of Southeast Asian countries. Additionally, the SEASAC project has a

Overall, the SEASAC project may be a minor step for the society but it is a major leap for the higher education in B2B sales and for the recognition of B2B sales as a university level field of know-how. More information: Senior Advisor Harri Lappalainen, TUAS, harri.lappalainen@turkuamk.fi Principal Lecturer Timo Holopainen, TUAS, timo.holopainen@turkuamk.fi

Journal of Excellence in Sales



A Story of How Sales Semester Changed My Life Joonas Koivuniemi Industrial Management and Engineering student at TUAS I will start my story by telling about the Sales Semester module, which is a 15-ECTS credit module offered by Turku University of Applied Sciences. I know it sounds cheesy but I can say this module changed my life. My attitude and mindset towards life and studies as well as my skillset changed during this semester, and it’s thanks to the Sales Semester and the teacher Timo Holopainen. Before attending the Sales Semester during my 3rd year of studying Industrial Management and Engineering at TUAS, I had no previous knowledge or experience in sales. My studies had been going well, but I still hadn’t found the right path of what I want to do with my life and studies. I didn’t have the motivation to focus my time and energy on things that would take me in the right direction. I attended the Sales Semester in spring 2018 at TUAS Sepänkatu campus. Honestly, it’s hard to find words for the thoughts and feelings I have been going through after taking part in the Sales Semester. This module, which consists of courses in Technical Sales, Sales Workshop, Sales Management and Sales Methods and Tools, was something I had never experienced during my 2.5 years of studies. These courses did not involve the usual “listen for two hours and take notes” kind of lectures. Instead, the Sales Semester modules kept me on the edge of my seat for four hours straight. The classes are arranged in the way that one has to, and wants to, be present all the time. These classes were always the highlight of my week. If someone told me before the start of my studies at TUAS how great an impact one module can have – and how different my attitude, mindset and skillset would be afterwards – I would not have believed them. 36

Coach Timo Holopainen, co-competitor Tuuli Elomaa and Joonas Koivuniemi.

Turku Sales Competition at the End of Sales Semester The Sales Workshop course is concluded with Turku Sales Competition (TSC), for which I trained all winter, learning about sales theory and skills as part of the course. I don't know if I should be honest about how and how much I trained for the competition; I spent the last day before the competition getting to know the product that I'm selling and the company whose product I would be selling. I didn’t practise my sales speech and I didn’t have anything written down, except for a few pictures of the products printed out on a piece of paper. Before the start of the competition, early in the morning, I learned from my classmates how everyone else had practised and trained for the competition. Hearing this, I thought that my own training and preparation were quite minimal. I heard people saying they had trained for days, polishing their sales speeches and product presentations. At this point, I was sure I had no chance against

Journal of Excellence in Sales


the other competitors and I felt that I didn’t even consider it as a competition. Despite this, and I still don’t know how, I felt confident about myself and I remember saying to myself that regardless of how good everyone else is or how much they have trained, I just want to be my best and try to overcome my fears. Turku Sales Competition of spring 2018 was divided into three parts. In the qualification round, there were 42 competitors, from whom the eight highest performers continued to semi-finals. The semi-final qualifiers are judged by independent judges, whom the competitors do not know before. The judging is done by an evaluation sheet.

I felt so overwhelmingly good because I knew I had given everything I got and been the best I could.

Before stepping into the sales negotiation room during the qualification round, I remember my heart almost punching a hole through my chest. I stepped into the room and got seated opposite to the buyer. After 30 seconds of small talk, everything started to proceed in a “flow” state; I didn’t need to think what I was going to say or ask next. I had full focus on the buyer and almost everything that I said or responded was purely impulsive. The pre-set time limit of 20 minutes, which before the competition had seemed like forever, was over in an instant. Somehow I managed to close the deal and I left the room with the best feeling ever. I felt so overwhelmingly good because I knew I had given everything I got and been the best I could. From the semi-finals, four competitors made it to the final round. I was extremely surprised to find out to be one of them. I have to say, leaving the

negotiation room after closing the deal – it must be one of the best if not the single best feeling this year. I was so happy and proud of myself and couldn’t believe how I managed to close a deal after a 20-minute sales negotiation in front of cameras, judges and a hundred spectators. Also, only after the final round did I really realize that it was a competition and that I might have a chance to win the whole thing. I think this maybe benefited me, as I didn’t stress about winning anyone else except myself in the competition.

Attending the European Sales Competition After the Turku Sales Competition, I and another TSC finalist Tuuli Elomaa were given the opportunity to take part in the European Sales Competition (ESC). In 2018, ESC was held in Paris, France, in the end of May. We trained for the competition almost weekly together with our sales coach Timo Holopainen and got great feedback, advice and help for the upcoming competition. The training was very encouraging and comforting. At no point did I feel like there was any pressure for succeeding or winning the competition. The trip to Paris and the competition was an awesome experience. Neither Tuuli nor I won, but we learned a lot during the training and in the competition. We got to meet a number of people from all over Europe and, of course, enjoy the beautiful spring of Paris. For me, both TSC and ESC and the entire Sales Semester have been one of the best experiences of my life. The way I look at myself and my future changed drastically, and I couldn’t be more pleased about it. When you are willing to leave your comfort zone and try new, exciting and even uncomfortable things, the range of things you can learn about yourself is endless.

Journal of Excellence in Sales



Sales and Purchasing Excellence Week 27–29 November 2018 at Turku University of Applied Sciences Tuesday 27 November Turku Sales Competition qualifying round

Wednesday 28 November Turku Sales Competition finals

Thursday 29 November The latest trends in Sales and Purchasing as keynotes from experts around Europe More information: timo.holopainen@turkuamk.fi | aino-lindroos@turkuamk.fi 38

Journal of Excellence in Sales


Learning with Companies

Studying at TUAS is strongly working life oriented. At TUAS, learning is based on innovations pedagogy, which links together professional know-how and theoretical research. Learning revolves extensively around project and teamwork. This offers students – as well as companies – unique opportunities to work in real need-based projects assigned either by companies or TUAS R&D operations.

Dragon’s Den at Raisio Group Sini Jokiniemi Principal Lecturer at TUAS, Sales Excellence Center Raisio Group gave an interesting assignment to three student teams in the middle of September 2018. The assignment is related to Raisio Group’s mission: Our food is good for Health, Heart and

Earth. Turku University of Applied Sciences (TUAS) has borrowed the idea of the Dragon’s Den in the execution of the project, as the winning student team of the project assignment will be determined

Photo: Sini Jokiniemi.

Journal of Excellence in Sales



in front of a live audience and jury at the end of the project in early December. After the project briefing in September, each of the student teams has started working independently with the guidance of their responsible teacher. Let’s meet five professionals from Raisio Group, who also act as contact persons for the three student teams. Antti Hyttinen works as a Field Sales Manager. His responsibilities include managing and developing operations for sales representatives in Finland, managing an outsourced sales field and category management for Raisio Plc products. According to Antti, leading or managing people is always interesting because each day is in some way different than the other. For Antti, sales is rewarding because you can measure the effort you put to your everyday work. Johanna Jalava works as an HR Manager and acts as a cooperating partner in various human resource and development issues and projects. “We recruit talents to both commercial and technical positions and work in close cooperation with various networks, universities and schools. HR work is exciting because at the same time it is very independent and yet you get to cooperate with people who work in versatile positions”, she says. A Senior Purchaser gets to work with a large range of issues. Kristiina Leino’s work includes both operative and strategic purchasing tasks and she is also responsible for two subcontractors and their orders, pricing and contract negotiations. Kristiina is also involved in new product development projects and brings the viewpoint of a purchasing specialist to the projects. Janna Oksanen works as a Junior NPD (New Product Development) Manager. She offers the following examples of her daily work: “As a member of the NPD Team, I actively lead mainly EDP projects (Existing Product Development, which means new taste variants to the products we already have on the market) and participate in the planning and execution of a competitive and profitable pipeline that corresponds to current consumer needs. On a daily basis, I track food trends and develop ideas for our future products and packages (mainly claims, not artwork). As a leader of


an EDP project, I coordinate the whole project from the ideation to the launch approval. I cooperate closely with product developers and purchasers but also with sales and marketing.” As a Product Development Specialist, Tiina Pasma works closely with, for example, the development of new flake products. She follows consumer trends and aims to create novel products that interest consumers. In Tiina’s opinion, her position allows her to challenge herself in addition to creating new ideas and things. Tiina considers food as a major part of every person’s life and finds it exciting to be able to have an effect on the food products people choose to buy and eat. She is especially interested in food trends and cultures, the level of healthiness in food as well as the ethical perspectives in food production. Even though only Antti has the term “sales” in his title, everybody needs to have selling skills to work effectively. Kristiina points out that in fact, you need to be able to sell your competences to the potential employer already in the job interview and if you are successful, that is (only) the start for more selling. Tiina continues that one needs to be able to convincingly argue for one’s ideas from several perspectives. In Janna’s view, you have to sell your ideas to your co-workers all the time if you want them to listen to you: “Selling is the most needed and valued skill in every job in the world! For example, doctors have to sell their idea about the best cure to a sick person.” “Sales is everywhere. You constantly have to sell your vision or idea to other people in everyday working life, without even realizing it. And it’s the same at home. It’s good to practise sales because you never know when you need to have a discussion with your wife or girlfriend of whether you want to spend your winter holiday by the beach or by the mountains”, adds Antti. Cooperation between universities and companies in the form of student projects is an effective way to test and find one’s own thing in working life. “We have been able to recruit several new employees via job training and summer jobs. I recommend that everyone tries out various jobs with an open mind, seek experiences from various fields of business and contact all kinds of companies”, suggests Johanna.

Journal of Excellence in Sales


Johanna, Antti, Kristiina, Janna and Tiina offer the following tips for students who work in company projects, search for a job and develop their careers: • Be active, persistent and willing to learn and develop yourself (for the rest of your life).

can say that if you do your best and express your interest, the company will definitely remember you and, in the best scenario, hire you immediately as a trainee or for an open position”, Tiina summarizes based on her own experience.

• Be curious, trust your competences and do not be afraid to challenge yourself. • Choose the sort of company or companies in which you really are interested and learn to know them. All this should show in your application and help you in the potential job interview. • It’s good to start from trainee positions. If you work hard enough, people will see it and it will get you forward in life. • Do your best with all the ambition you have! Be curious and ask a lot, from your team members and from the company’s employees. If you really are interested in the company, say it aloud. Be active and express your interests. Try to leave a good impression about yourself and send an open application soon after the project. • When working in a company project as a student: be brave and be yourself! Companies expect to hear fresh and innovative thoughts from students. • Remember to enjoy your time as a student – you have time (the rest of your life) to work. “I ended up working for Raisio from the project between the University of Turku and Raisio, so I

Raisio site and rapeseed field.

Raisio is an international company specialized in healthy, responsibly produced food and fish feeds. Our well-known brands include, for example, Benecol, Elovena, Sunnuntai, Torino and Benella. In Raisio’s products, the focus is on well-being, health, good taste and sustainable development. Profitable growth is ensured through our strong expertise and passion for creating new. Raisio’s shares are listed on Nasdaq Helsinki Ltd. In 2017, the Group’s net sales for continuing operations totalled EUR 307 million and comparable EBIT was EUR 38 million. Our food is good for Health, Heart and Earth.

Journal of Excellence in Sales



Career at Osuuspankki – UAS Studies Built Strong Foundation for Working Life Maria Koponen Communications and Marketing Specialist at OP Turun Seutu Susanna Alhonkoski is currently employed in a managerial role at OP Turun Seutu where she leads a customer care team of ten. Alhonkoski graduated

from the business programme at Satakunta University of Applied Sciences in 2004. During her studies, she spent the summers working at Osuuspankki.

Susanna Alhonkoski. Photo: Peter Nuutinen.


Journal of Excellence in Sales


“After upper secondary school I was interested in communications and marketing, and I wanted to combine studies in this area with business theory. I never did end up in marketing and communications, but in hindsight my UAS studies provided me with excellent general knowledge of how companies operate and of the mechanisms of business.”

management today is primarily about leading and inspiring people. A good employee experience and good flow is also reflected in customer experience and customer satisfaction.”

Alhonkoski tells us about what motivated her to apply to study at a university of applied sciences. Practically oriented studies and cooperation projects with different partners and companies were, according to Alhonkoski, the best part of her studies. Getting to know how different companies operate through working in them provided another type of learning environment and brought a different kind of energy to work.

Sales orientation is part of day-to-day work, and Alhonkoski emphasizes that sales work is above all systematics. “I could actually say need-based solution selling. You must have the ability to identify and confidently solve customers’ needs. With regards to systemics, the task of a sales director and coach is to set goals, find ways of achieving those goals with the team members and monitor the results. But perhaps the most important thing is to help your own team members to find their own strengths. The best results do not emerge by force but through joy”, Alhonkoski says.

“During your studies, you learn a lot about both team and project work, and I apply what I learned even today in my own job. In teamwork you learn to make use of the strengths of different team members, to share and take responsibility and to set clear objectives and schedules.”

Alhonkoski considers OP Turun Seutu’s cooperation with students as one of her most important areas of responsibility. This entails maintaining contact with student organizations and bodies. The best way to achieve this is through joint planning focusing on how OP can be visible in the daily life of students.

In her day-to-day work, Alhonkoski acts as a sales coach and helps team members succeed in their work. “My team includes professionals in financing, investment and insurance, and our mission is to find for customers comprehensive financial solutions suited to their life situation. I personally feel that

“I would like to, in some way, highlight even stronger the message that we want to be an easily approachable financial partner for young people as well as for all customers. A partner to whom they can turn in issues relating to their personal finances”, Alhonkoski sums up.

Op Turun Seutu is part of the national OP Financial Group. Our area of operation covers the areas of Turku, Kaarina, Parainen, Naantali, Raisio, Rusko and Vehmaa creating a customer base of 166,073, of which 87,022 are owner-customers. Strong capital adequacy and operational efficiency create sustainable financial success, security and wellbeing in the operating environment. Being a Finnish financial services provider, the most extensive nationwide service network and genuine focus on customers make us a unique player in many respects.

Journal of Excellence in Sales



For Better Sales Anniina Hellman CEO at Helsinki Sales Academy The roots of Helsinki Sales Academy (HSA) reach back over a decade. At that time, Olli Syvänen came up with an idea of founding a sales academy. The mission of the academy has not changed over the years; it aims for a societal impact by providing even better salespeople for Finland and for upgrading the reputation of sales as a profession. Many people have a negative connotation of sales due to the hard-selling tactics applied in consumer sales. However, a company sells to another company (B2B selling) does not resemble forceful selling in any way. HSA offers a larger variety of services as well as positions for sales-minded marketers. Over the years, HSA has developed but what has remained the same is the core idea of the academy as a developer of young salespeople. The academy offers a way to reach out for the first real job to any young talent interested in a career in sales. A secondary or bachelor’s level degree in the field is beneficial for the candidate although some of the talents at the academy come from thoroughly different backgrounds. It is a bold decision to combine life and work experience and bring something fresh to sales. The most essential competence is the willingness to learn and to understand the challenges and pressures of selling as a profession. During the years, around 150 people have graduated from the academy. The years have witnessed all kinds of growth stories. “Nowadays technology allows us to track where the academy alumni are positioned. For example, LinkedIn immediately tells you the updated working title of a person. We keep in touch with our alumni and it has been great to notice how far many have gone – all the way to management positions”, explains Olli Syvänen, the founder and owner of HSA.


The academy period lasts for four months and the development curves are impressive. Even a shy person can find more self-confidence and become a profit-generating star salesperson. HSA’s weekly coaching sessions help the academy students to get a proper understanding of the different stages of the sales process. At the same time, they are able to apply everything they have learned in their daily work. Working at the academy is not about making coffee, it is a about doing serious business in sales and marketing activities.

Looking for Future Salespeople HSA wants to encourage people to do all kinds of sales work. Salespeople are typically seen in two categories: hunters and farmers. A hunter enjoys being in the front line and opening new doors. A hunter just loves prospecting. On the other hand, farmers are drawn to taking care of customer relationships and to maintaining and developing relationships. Both types of salespeople are needed – and also their combinations. In a digitalized world, salespeople will need new kinds of competences. First, a salesperson must create value for the customer. Second, homework needs to be done thoroughly and a salesperson needs to be genuinely interested in the customer’s present situation. Digital sales tools and technologies are now seemingly intertwined with more traditional ways of selling. Social competences in particular, as well as emotional intelligence, will be highlighted. “Hardworking, goal-oriented and energetic people perform the best in the academy. This holds true also for the sales work after the apprenticeship in the academy. If you give up easily when facing challenges, sales work may not be your thing. Sales work involves pressure due to personal sales targets. You need to be mentally strong and hold yourself

Journal of Excellence in Sales


together but when you have faith in yourself and believe in what you are doing, you will do great! You should make a maximum effort with a good vibe”, observes CEO of HSA Anniina Hellman.

and new client acquisition. This is why practical training at HSA was a great match. Her training period at the academy started in January 2018. “The spring team was awesome! Even though we were a bunch of different personalities, we shared a good spirit of working together. I believe that we have also formed lasting friendships”, Jenna says. For Jenna, the spring entailed various projects. Particularly one of them felt special: “I executed a new client acquisition project for an educational institution. During the project, I booked meetings with potential cooperating partners. The project exceeded all expectations and I booked a record high number of meetings. My self-confidence definitely grew stronger. I also remember HSA’s Sales Morning event. It was great to be part of organizing a big business event”, summarizes Jenna. Jenna had set a goal for herself to do so well during the practical training that she would afterwards find herself in a job that matches her education. By the end of her practical training, she had several job interviews booked. Eventually, the next challenge came from Wunder Finland.

Jenna Lassila and Anniina Hellman.

A Career Story of an HSA Alumna When 2017 was coming to an end, Jenna Lassila was looking for a company where to carry out her practical training during final phase of bachelor studies. She had previously worked in various Business to Consumer roles but at that time she wanted to learn more about Business to Business selling. Jenna is a typical hunter, motivated by goals

Jenna’s career at Wunder has started well and she was offered a permanent employment relationship already before the end of the trial period. Jenna felt immediately at home when her new job at Wunder started: “Wunder is everything I wanted of my future job. I am constantly encouraged to develop and challenge myself. The people and culture at Wunder are awesome. ICT is a new business field for me and therefore I can learn new things every day. It is important to be able to do things at your own pace but I can ask for help whenever I need it. Without HAS, I would not have this dream job and I especially want to thank Anniina Hellman for it.”

The mission of Helsinki Sales Academy is to help clients to build winning sales teams. We are the client’s partner in analysing sales team competences, adding skills and helping clients with recruiting and lead generation. We operate in the greater Helsinki area, Turku and Tampere. For more information: www.helsinkisalesacademy.fi

Journal of Excellence in Sales



Sales Alumni

Sales-related studies at TUAS last for about 3 years. However, after reaching the bachelor’s degree, our talents head off to conquer real world and start a life-lasting journey. Next, you will meet our alumni Johanna, Essi, Miikka and Matti and learn more about various sales jobs in a recruitment company, in an award-winning sales organization and with service productization.

From Bachelor Students to Colleagues at Work Johanna Heikkilä and Essi Martikainen Recruitment Coordinators at Medikumppanit

A long and hot summer is behind us now and it is time to welcome the autumn. For the past three years, autumn has marked the beginning of a new semester at Turku University of Applied Sciences (TUAS). Therefore, there was some confusion in the air as instead of sales and marketing lessons we needed to go to an actual workplace and to start applying in practice the things we had learnt at TUAS. The first autumn season as TUAS alumni had begun! Our friendship started long before our bachelor studies while working in the same cafeteria. For a couple of years we prepared cappuccinos together until we both began our bachelor studies at TUAS – one with the sales programme on Sepänkatu campus and the other with the Business Academy on Salo campus.


Essi Martikainen and Johanna Heikkilä.

Our roads met again in spring 2017 in Medikumppanit (“Medical Partners”), a company we both worked for. It is an HR service company that focuses on recruiting doctors. Johanna had started working at Medikumppanit already in late 2016 and when their Recruiting Manager asked if Johanna knew another energetic worker, Johanna did not have to think long whom to recommend for the position. Essi quickly absorbed a new line of business and became a member of the team. During our studies, we were both involved in various projects. In a parallel fashion one can consider our current positions as part of a long and neverending project: everybody has a different role

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but works for the same goal, which is to recruit doctors. We are humbled to have gained positive feedback on our friendly and customer-oriented style when contacting people. We have had good practice for that during our sales training courses with simulated role plays and discussions, for instance. Perseverance is something we should both pay attention to, especially as doctor recruiting processes may easily take for longer than a year. Based on our great cooperation at work, we thought it was quite logical to combine forces and to write our bachelor’s thesis together. At first, our classmates and some teachers wondered whether it is possible for students from different degree programmes to carry out a joint thesis. Or would our friendship survive the process? For this reason, we made a non-verbal deal at the beginning that no matter what comes in our way, we will push through it together. Both of us had the permission to express one’s opinion and to say if things were going astray. We both had learnt various perspectives and models

during our studies; this background helped us construct a successful thesis on doctors’ perceptions of staff-hiring companies. In May 2018, we were happy to enjoy a glass of bubbly with other students graduating from TUAS. The atmosphere was happy but also excited – graduation is the last step before entering working life for real. For us this meant that we could continue working at Medikumppanit together as an energetic duo and to apply in practice everything we had learnt at TUAS. Would we recommend carrying out your thesis together with a friend? Absolutely yes. Just make sure before you start that the both of you are ready to put in a similar amount of work and that you might be talking about the objectivity of the quantitative research approach more than you would like to. Good luck to all bachelor students, especially the ones working on their theses.

My First Months at Award Winning Sales Organization Miikka Nurmi Business Development Manager at Vainu.io Vainu was chosen by a jury of experts as the sales organization of the year in 2017 and a few months ago I was honoured to join the crowd of happy colleagues. I packed my sofa in the car and moved to Helsinki. The aim of this text is to open the curtains and to demonstrate with examples what selling looks and feels like at an award winning sales organization. My intention is to openly share how we do sales at Vainu. This will allow you as a reader to gain some insights on contemporary ways of selling. Miikka Nurmi

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The Sales Playbook Here at Vainu, everything we do is based on the so-called Sales Playbook. It covers everything sales-related and makes visible how we do sales. As hungry new sales talents join Vainu, the Sales Playbook is the basis for the whole orientation process. The playbook consists of six main elements:

1. Background: why we do sales 2. Outbound selling process 3. Sales Key Performance Indicators 4. Best practices 5. Inbound sales process 6. CRM instructions

The Sales Playbook offers a salesperson all the relevant information that also helps the management steer the ship towards the same destination. The Sales Playbook helps us sell systematically – that is something every salesperson needs. You can download your own playbook at https:// resources.vainu.io/ebook/sales-playbook-template/.

Technologies Modern sales tools are a natural part of a modern sales organization. Here at Vainu, we have several sales tools that help the salesperson succeed, e.g. a CRM, zoom.us, Vainu.io and Slack. About 70% of our meetings with customers are organized online and 30% on a face-to-face basis. This may sound surprising and would be out of the question in certain industries. However, our customers really enjoy online meetings, because a) timewise, they are extremely efficient, and b) you can handle exactly the same issues online as you can in face-to-face meetings. From a salesperson’s point of view, online meetings are unfortunately declined or cancelled more often than face-to-face meetings and have a higher rate of no show. An effective salesperson can, however, safeguard the meetings in several ways. Perhaps the most used technique is to call the customer the day before the meeting to check the schedules.


As a sales tool, Slack is the business-context equivalent to WhatsApp. Slack is integratable, for instance, to the Get Accept application. When a customer signs a deal, it generates a notice of a new deal. The “deal gong” sings and colleagues start congratulating. In this context, it would have been unreasonable not to mention our own sales software. Vainu.io is an intelligent company database offered to B2B companies. The mission of Vainu.io is to find the most potential customers and the right time to contact them. With the software, we combine the traditional company data with public and open data available on the internet and by doing so we help B2B salespeople to sell more, better and at the correct time.

A New Way of Selling The autumn of 2018 has been a time of big changes at Vainu. During the past years, we have gathered a massive amount of information in our own software, PipeDrive (CRM) and HubSpot (marketing automation software). Therefore, we decided that artificial intelligence can take care of prospecting for the salespeople. And as we – the salespeople – do no longer do the time-consuming prospecting anymore, it means in practice that we can spend the saved time with our customers. Excellent! All in all, many companies still use static company lists for prospecting. We have taken sales to a new level and I have not yet come across a company in Finland that would take more advantage of using the data than we do. We have also established a Real Time Sales unit that literally operates in the interface of marketing and sales. With the help of the new unit we can assure that hot leads are contacted as early as possible. If this article has stirred your thinking and given you fresh ideas about the ongoing transformation in selling, I am more than happy. In my own bachelor’s thesis I discussed the transformation in buying but I was not able to even start thinking about how great the transformation in selling actually is.

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Service Productization Matti Nikander Project Coordinator at TUAS The author is a recent B.B.A. graduate (International Business) from TUAS. He is currently working with internal service development as a project coordinator. Recently, he has been working on a service productization project for TUAS Faculty of Engineering and Business.

The differences between products and services are well known. Services are abstract and can be consumed only once, whereas products are tangible and can be used many times. When talking about service productization, the point is to develop services by adding product characteristics to the service offering. Saleswise, the problem of selling services is in how to make the customers understand what the service is and what they can expect of the service. Hence, service productization is vital.

“Productization can be divided into three Matti Nikander. Photo: Aino Lindroos. stages: defining service offering and standardization, concretizing the service the last stage of structuring and standardizing offering, and structuring and standardizing processes helps the managers obtain data and ensure the service quality in doing so. (Jaakkola, of processes.� 2011.)

Productization can be divided into three stages: defining service offering and standardization, concretizing the service offering, and structuring and standardizing of processes. In the process of defining the service offering and standardization, the goal is to reduce the existing variation and ambiguity within the service. This can be achieved, for instance, by slicing the service into smaller parts or stages. This action can help the companies better communicate the service offering to their customers. The service concretizing is an important factor for the customer to obtain a feeling that they know what they are buying. Implementing concrete elements into a service can be achieved, for example, by having a named service module with a specific service description linked to it. Where the first two stages are customer-oriented stages,

Of course, business leaders have to know which services are suitable for productization. The process of finding the correct services should start from acquiring basic information of the service portfolio. The goal of this stage is to find out the ones that are the most suitable for productization. Based on the results, the services which are the most suitable should involve a need from customers, have repetitive sections within the service, be in line with company image and strategy, and there should be the right people to implement changes. Only after the initial stage can the actual service productization start. (Tuominen et al., 2015.) In other words, one can see productization as the evolution of a service where a product characteristic is included in the service, whether a service module

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with clear pricing methods or other product-related elements. This helps customers better understand what the company is selling and thus, eventually, make purchase decisions. In summary, when the service productization process is initialized, one must find the correct services. Moreover, a productized service enables the company to follow the service processes better by providing data for management to use. This obviously helps the managers make better reports, which can then be monitored by the directors. Consequently, this allows companies to manage their service quality while improving customeroriented selling.


REFERENCES Jaakkola, E., 2011. Unraveling the practices of “productization” in professional service firms. Scandinavian Journal of Management, 27(2), pp. 221–230. Available at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scaman.2011.03.001 Tuominen, T. et al., 2015. Palvelujen tuotteistamisen käsikirja. Osallistavia menetelmiä palvelujen tuotteistamiseen. Aalto University. Available at https:// aaltodoc.aalto.fi/bitstream/handle/123456789/16523/ isbn9789526062181.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y Accessed 27 September 2018.

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Research and Development Projects

Successful long-term projects and development initiatives bring together actors from companies, universities and governmental organizations. When young and eager minds are combined with seasoned experts and best practices, new innovations will emerge. Or what do you think about job seeking and circular economy after reading the following articles?

How to Sell Circular Economy Knowhow? Piia Nurmi Leader of Education and Research at TUAS in the research group of Resource-efficient Business

Circular Economy, What Is It? Circular economy is a new economic model in which consumption is based on using services (e.g. sharing, renting and recycling) instead of owning them. Thus, the model does not focus on producing more goods and the used materials are not destroyed in the end like they are in linear economy but are used to make new products over and over again. Additionally, the model takes social justice into account along with natural and technical circulations. Circular economy will not work until social sustainability is raised to the level of the ecologic and economic angles.

How to Sell Intangibles? Environmental benefits, the need for circular economy and the advantages circular economy can offer are often hard to see and even harder to clarify for many of the stakeholders. The best sales proposition, of course, is the challenges we are facing in terms of our planet. David Brower from Patagonia, a global, well-performing company, has

stated this very clearly: “There is no business to be done on a dead planet.” (eGreenNet 2012) However, as we do not yet live on a dead planet, there must to be other sales propositions available. Terry-Cobo (2009) has listed the following four:

1. Help your customers connect the dots. 2. Encourage change by showing success stories. 3. Illustrate that green is a spectrum. 4. Talk to the right person.

At Turku University of Applied Sciences (TUAS), we have experienced this with the companies we cooperate with. These companies are wise and future oriented – they usually know where they are aiming for regarding circular economy. However, they do need a little help with connecting the dots in the middle of today’s hectic business life. In addition, we have noticed (Suominen et al. 2015; eGreenNet 2012) that examples by other companies are the best way to convince new companies of

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the importance of circular economy and other environmental business practices. When it comes to point 3 in the above list, green really is a spectrum: there is so much to do, the little steps as well as major systemic chances. All steps are good. And as for point 4, it does pay off at companies to look for the right person to talk to, as usually there is a person or a group of people who are motivated by knowing they can help the environment through practical work that also benefits the company.

What Are We Selling at TUAS? At TUAS, we do a lot of R&D in circular economy with companies. We have plenty of ongoing projects in, for example, textile recycling, circular economy innovations and circular economy hubs. Our operating method is strong enterprise–student cooperation, which is also in accordance with the principles of innovation pedagogy, an approach to learning and teaching developed at TUAS. The operations of our research group offer an interface for the needs of the enterprises operating in our region and for the process of training students into professionals. This way, we are constantly selling our circular economy knowhow and cooperation possibilities to companies.

The Future of Circular Economy? Circular economy is both a challenge and an enormous opportunity. Achieving long-term sustainable growth can only happen through partnership and cooperation. We need cooperation among suppliers, retailers, startups, governments, cities, universities, NGOs and consumers. (Suominen et al. 2015; Helias 2018) REFERENCES eGreenNet (2012). Environmental Business Can Thrive in All Sectors. Available at https://egreennet.turkuamk. fi/in-english/. Helias, V. (2018). Why the Future of Consumption Is Circular. Available at https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/01/ future-consumption-circular-economy-sustainable/. Terry-Cobo, S. (2009). Selling Intangibles: How to Sell What the Customer Can’t See. Available at https://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2009/08/24/sellingintangibles-how-sell-what-customer-cant-see. Suominen, J., Hillgren, E. & Nurmi, P. (2015). eGreenNet – ympäristöliiketoimintaa pk-yritysten kanssa. Available at http://julkaisut.turkuamk.fi/isbn9789522165664.pdf.

Enterprise–student cooperation is one way to achieve long-term sustainable growth. Photo: Sara Malve-Ahlroth.


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SMErec Brings Companies and Students Together Aino Lindroos Project Coordinator at TUAS The aim of the SMErec project is to offer instruments and tools for helping the recruiting process in small and medium size companies. Turku University of Applies Sciences (TUAS) and Karelia University of Applied Sciences are the university partners of this project. Anu Lehtinen from TUAS offers training to students regarding the best practices in job hunting and CV writing. She also arranges a “CV Clinic” where students get concrete help to write their own CV’s.

“Students should contact companies even when they do not have open positions. Sometimes they might have a hidden position available”, Anu hints. You can find out the next events at http://smerec. karelia.fi.

“It is important to be active in job hunting and to prepare a tailored CV and application for each work position”, Anu emphasizes. The target of SMErec is to help companies find new employees from universities for the jobs they have. The project aims to create a platform where employers can find new talents from higher education institutions and the other way round. The project arranges events for companies and university students with the intention to find out what companies really need in their field but also to have the employers and potential employees in the same time and place to facilitate networking.

“Students should contact companies even when they do not have open positions. Sometimes they might have a hidden position available.”

Anu Lehtinen. Photo: Aino Lindroos.

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Panel Discussions and Job Seeker Experiences Sanni Intonen Bachelor Student in Sales at TUAS In April 2018, the SMErec project organized an event for students, universities and companies. The programme of the event included keynotes on recruiting, the results of a survey distributed for all the universities in the region as well as a panel discussion. I participated in the panel discussion on stage in the role of a jobseeking student.

My Thoughts before the Panel One of the topics of the event was job-hunting and recruitment trends through job seeker experience. I participated in the panel discussion because I wanted to know more about the recruitment trends and the new phenomena in the field. I like the idea of a panel discussion as an interactive situation and I was motivated by the idea of writing an article after the panel. I was particularly interested in how the participants define the concept of “job seeker experience”. Personally, I see the job seekers’ experience as a complex entity, in which the quality of communication between the job seeker and the organization is central. Before the panel discussion, I thought that job seeker experience covers far more than the job searching process. In my opinion, job seeker’s experience begins long before the first contact with the company. It is influenced by the job advertisement, the quality and clarity of the content on the company’s recruitment website as well as the types of encounters between the job seeker and the recruiter in various social media channels. I think that the job seeker experience embodies the human dimension of recruitment and contains a wide range of visions and preferences that the job applicant has of the company. Depending on the overall experience, job seekers are able to compare the organization’s written values with the actual recruitment policy. 54

Sanni Intonen.

My Thoughts during the Panel The panel discussed to which extent artificial intelligence (AI) may be able to replace the recruiting professionals. The general opinion was that some of the functions in recruiting can be and already are automated through AI. As a result, today’s recruitment is, in fact, more productive. To my mind, however, even if companies learned to get the best out of artificial intelligence, it is more of a working tool in recruitment than something to replace the stages that lead to decision making. To be honest, I was slightly confused by AI being such a huge trend these days; perhaps this was due to my educational background in sales and to the fact that I approached the topic from a job seeker’s point of view. Some of the panellists mentioned that they simply lack resources to go through the tremendous number of applications and therefore consider the use of AI essential. I believe that AI is beneficial for today’s recruitment. For instance, it is perfectly suitable for sending out automatic responses. However, it is unable to interpret the small nuances and important details in job applications. I do not believe that technology

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alone can ever successfully replace all stages in the processing of applications. During the panel discussion, I highlighted the importance of communication. It is very important for every applicant to receive a message about the progress of the process and its outcome. Anyone who has gone beyond the early stages of the process should receive either written or oral feedback about whether or not they have been selected. From a job seeker’s point of view, getting motivational but honest feedback is highly essential for self-development and learning. The applicants should always be informed about why they were not chosen.

My Thoughts after the Panel The best part of the event was the panel discussion itself. Different perspectives were expressed during the discussion, as the participants were not only representatives of universities and recruiters but also students and local employers. The conversation was open and everyone could express their opinions, which is something I truly liked. I found the speeches of recruitment specialists the most interesting and it was fascinating to get to hear about the recruitment practices of different companies. The SMErec project, which aims at developing the competitiveness of recruitment in the Turku area in Southwest Finland, was also introduced during the event. The presentation on the project was, however, slightly disconnected from the panel discussion. I would have liked to hear more argumentation about how projects such as SMErec can have a positive effect on the recruitment communication.

Job Seeker Experience as a Selling Point in Recruitment After finishing my second year of Professional Sales studies, I have come across a number of internship announcements. My goal is to graduate in spring 2019 and finding a relevant practical trainee placement is definitely on my list. I have been a job seeker multiple times and have often found myself in a situation where the job seeking process has not been that pleasant from my point of view. For example, I remember sending out job applications into a number of companies. Very often I received no response or I received an automatic message which simply stated that I had not been chosen for the position. The worst case was when I did not receive any confirmation that I had even applied for the job in the first place. Through disappointing experiences such as these, I have always been interested to know what successful recruiting means, especially from a job seeker’s perspective. As I said earlier, I believe that job seeker experience covers more than any individual recruitment process. Job seeker experience consists of the actual job seekers with their feelings and experiences. It is important that a company´s recruiters ensure the success of the recruitment process in order to support the company’s image. The recruiter must always make sure that the process runs smoothly with active communication and feedback. Job seekers must receive information about the process regularly. Feedback plays a key role especially when a job applicant is able to make it further in the process but does not, for instance, become invited to an interview. Not getting any feedback about the result surely does not have a positive effect on the overall feeling about the employer.

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An attractive job advertisement is both informative and visual and it aims at grabbing one’s attention. In addition, it has to clearly show what is required, in other words, what kind of a person and talent the company is searching for. It is the job seekers’ responsibility to read the announcement carefully and, at the same time, estimate whether they might be suitable for the job. In this, self-knowledge is essential, such as knowing your strengths. Job seekers should remember that employers are simply trying to find the most qualified talents to join their team. My advice for other students who are looking for a job is: remember to stay realistic. I have seen many of my friends devastated after learning that they did not get the job they had applied for. Usually, they were reaching out for the most ambitious and desirable job available. Moreover, for many this has not occurred only once but instead many times in a row. It is crucial to have a realistic understanding of your skills even as a beginner. The higher your expectations are, the bigger the disappointment. In order to stay competitive among other employers, a company must take good care of its job seeker experience. Bad experience is not far from bad reputation. In the era of social media, negative experiences turn into rumours that spread quickly. Firstly, communication is the number one thing the company needs to succeed in. Secondly, recruiters must keep in mind that they can have a significant positive impact on the company’s image by being committed to their job, which covers far more than discovering skilled individuals. Every job interview is a sales situation where the recruiter can affect the job seeker’s understanding on the company as an employer. The interviewee has probably had the first impression in advance through social media, friends and family, but it is the face-to-face interactions that count. Lately, artificial intelligence has become one of the biggest trends in recruitment. AI is making recruitment more efficient by automating low level tasks, which enables recruiting professionals to focus on making decisions. In my opinion, AI is a great way of compensating some of the easier tasks in the process and making the recruitment process smoother by providing job applicants with information about the progress of the process. AI is definitely changing recruitment and it is at its best when it helps HR professionals find new ways to process data more effectively. According to the panellists in the April 2018 event organized by the SMErec project, AI is definitely a part of today’s recruitment. It is a working tool for recruiters with a help of which they are able to get 56

acquainted with their applicants well before the actual interview takes place. It is never easy to make the final decision of who gets the job. With more resources to do the research on their applicants, recruiters are more likely to make better decisions. Companies can make themselves more desirable as employers by comprehending job seeker experience is, in fact, a competitive factor. Nowadays, building networks has become more and more important in business. The power of networks can help in a situation where an applicant has failed to get the job despite being a suitable candidate. In such cases, recruiters can not only recommend the applicant to participate in the company’s next recruiting process but also mention that their partner organization may have interesting jobs available. In this way, the recruiters promote an optimistic atmosphere on both sides. All in all, recruiting cannot be professional unless it has enough resources to work with, because the nature of recruitment is so multi-dimensional. In addition to effective and transparent recruiting capabilities, recruiters need to constantly develop their selling and communication skills. And, as mentioned before, AI is only a part of the puzzle – it is the people who make the decisions. 5 tips for job seekers 1. Know your strengths. That guides you towards jobs that fit you. 2. Do your research properly. It makes you well prepared. 3. List your complete work history on your CV. It gives a better impression to employers. 4. Focus on expressing what kind of value you bring to the organization. 5. Remember that being late is not an option. 5 tips for recruiters 1. Make sure that potential applicants find your job advertisement. 2. Create a job advertisement that gets the attention. 3. Utilize data and social media effectively. 4. Treat your applicants as customers by keeping them updated and staying truthful to them during the complete process. 5. Explain as systematically as you can why someone is not suitable for the position. In this way you highlight the whole process as a learning experience and, at the same time, support your company’s image in a positive way.

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The Zigzag of Recruitment Processes Heidi Oksanen Sales Bachelor Student at TUAS I participated in the panel discussion organized by the SMErec project with open and curious mind. I had a lot of positive but also many negative thoughts about job hunting. During the panel discussion, it became clear that many young job seekers feel that job hunting is stressing and even frustrating, mainly because of bad experiences relating to unanswered applications. ’’Thank you for your interest. However, this time you have not been elected’’ is another sentence that is surely familiar for many young job seekers who have applied for a job. In the panel discussion, it was both a relief and worrying to hear that I am not alone with these thoughts and experiences. Many companies have the potential to improve their recruitment processes. Especially young job seekers of today hope to get feedback on their applications or interviews so they can do better in future. After the panel discussion, I still had still same thoughts about job hunting. How can I succeed in job hunting? How can I stay positive despite the negative experiences? Because of this, I have written this piece on the challenges in job hunting and how to survive them. For a job seeker, one of the most important things is a good curriculum vitae and an application that stands out. Personally, I find writing applications the most challenging job. How to phrase interesting sentences? How to show my personality in writing? For me, it takes several days to come up with a good application. Mostly, I try to play with words and use authentic examples of my own life. When writing an application, it is important to remember that the purpose of the application is to sell your skills but also your personality to the company. So listen to your inner selling person.

Heidi Oksanen.

After the application is ready, you have to start thinking about your curriculum vitae. Should it be humorous and striking or smart and official? I used to have an official Word document as my CV, but later on I have noticed that after starting to use a different curriculum vitae template, I also started receiving more answers to my applications. A simple answer is: a good curriculum vitae stands out but is official, as well. Ask someone to read your application and curriculum vitae so they can point out if there are, for example, grammar errors. You cannot always recognize your own errors. Remember to also update your curriculum vitae for every job you apply by emphasizing details required in the job you are applying for. The nervousness begins after the arrival of the interview call. The recruiter has become interested in me. How can I make it last when we are face to face? How do I dress for the interview? What are they going to ask? There is a simple answer to all these mind-puzzling questions: Be yourself. Wear the clothes that you feel comfortable and selfconfident wearing. Good preparation releases the tension significantly. This is why it is very important to search the internet for potential interview questions and consider your possible answers. It takes a lot of self-examination to prepare for an

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interview. What are my strengths? What are my weaknesses? It is also good to remember that in the interview situation, your answers should not sound too memorized and unnaturally polished. It is also advisable to study the company beforehand. Which are the values of the company? What more do I want to know about the company? Many recruiters wish the interviewee to ask some questions at the end of the interview, so it is advisable to come up with relevant questions beforehand in order to show your interest towards the company and stand out from the other applicants. The most important advice is to be confidently yourself during the interview. However, please do not forget about good manners. The interview may be your only opportunity to make an impression. If you pretend to be someone else, you cannot give the right picture of yourself and this can cause harm later. Be genuinely interested and try to build a connection with the interviewer. Good manners, authenticity and being relaxed to an appropriate extent provide a good starting point for a successful interview.

The nervousness, however, may continue after the interview. Did I forget to say something important? Did I say something foolish? What are the other applicants like? At this point, it is good to remember that you cannot influence what already happened. If the interview did not go as you planned, you should not be discouraged and let an unsuccessful interview ruin your future opportunities. Even if you were not chosen this time, it is good to remember to deal with the after interview contacts with respect, because the company might remember a good applicant in the next recruitment. Sometimes the only contact after the interview is a mass message without any personal contact. This is something the recruiters should pay attention to: Handle the recruitment until the end thinking that the applicant is also your potential client. A poorly


managed recruitment can change the applicant’s opinion about the company. Whatever happens, handle the recruitment to the very end with respect. It is always exciting to start in a new job. Even though I am a very social person, the first workday may frighten me. How will I dress? Do I fit in? Do I learn the new tasks quickly enough? If you are like me and feel nervous about new situations, I recommend learning a few relaxation exercises. These exercises help you also later in your work, for example in stressful situations. It is also good to remember that even if you feel tense and worried, you will surely be fine. Your competence will surely be enough, because after all, you have been chosen for the job. The rest depends on how much you will work for your learning and adapting. It is unfortunately common in some companies that the initiation is weak, or so I have noticed from my own experiences and those of others. Because of this, it is extremely important to show initiative and ask questions. It is good to be brave and demand a thorough initiation for yourself, because it will help you succeed in the job. It is also advisable to use the expertise of the senior employees. This is also a good way to get to know your co-workers while working. Especially in my current job, I have experienced that the most valuable teaching came exactly from my co-workers. On the other hand, even though they do say that there are no dumb questions, I suggest that you first try to find out yourself and only after that ask if you still need help. This is how you most likely learn better and save the nerves of your co-workers. Especially in smaller companies where the number of staff is already small, people do not necessarily have enough time to advise you during busy hours, so it is exactly places like these where self-initiative and reasoning skills are hoped for. Therefore, it is good to remember what you have promised in your application and in the interview. From this, we get back to honesty, a topic already discussed. It is important to be honest already in your application about your strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, for example, if you have told self-management to be your strength, you actually need to show your own initiative. “You are exactly like the image I got from you and why I hired you� is the finest sentence I have received at work and when I heard this, I knew I was successful.

Journal of Excellence in Sales


’’Listen, ask, be self-driven, study, get to know’’ are good pieces of advice for the first day at a new job but also for your whole career. I think if you follow these tips, you will succeed in your new job. Below are some tips for job hunting and for a job interview. Some of them I have learned from employers. This is how you will succeed in job hunting: • Update your curriculum vitae. • Add a photo in your application. Don´t take a selfie – instead, ask your friend to take a clear and high- quality photo of you. You can let your personality show in the photo but remember to keep it official. • Be quick, because many jobs are being filled already during the application period. • Believe in yourself and don´t ever think that you cannot be chosen. • Get to know the company so you can ask appropriate questions in the interview. Come up with some questions in advance. This helps you if you are nervous in the interview. • Print your curriculum vitae and application and bring them to the job interview.

• Practise the most common questions in advance. You can find plenty of common interview questions on the internet. • Think which your strengths and weaknesses are. These are likely to be asked. • Be in time so that you have time to relax before the interview. • Be honest about your skills. • If the job requires language skills, be prepared that the interviewer may change the language. • Remember good manners. Shake hands, sit back only when you get permission, look in the eye when someone is talking to you and sit upright. • Remember, never say a bad word about your previous employer. • Practise introducing yourself in brief but in an interesting way. • After all, be yourself and don’t be nervous. • If you don´t get the job, don´t be discouraged, somewhere there is the right job for you. You just have to keep looking for it.

Journal of Excellence in Sales



Towards next issue The next issue of Journal of Excellence in Sales will be published in May 2019.

Enjoy selling!

Journal of Excellence in Sales


Profile for Turun AMK, TUAS

Journal of Excellence in Sales, 2/2018  

Journal of Excellence in Sales, published biannually by Turku University of Applied Sciences (TUAS), offers topical insights and views from...

Journal of Excellence in Sales, 2/2018  

Journal of Excellence in Sales, published biannually by Turku University of Applied Sciences (TUAS), offers topical insights and views from...

Profile for turunamk