Annie once recruited me as a service engineer, but was sure I could be a good sales engineer. The first thing she taught me was to do the shopping myself, and she also helped me master the right sales style. It’s because of her I became a salesman.

L is for Listening

Any sales training course worth its salt will teach you that you have to be able to really listen to make it in sales. “I never interrupt clients,” Annie told me. And she showed me how it should be done, more effectively than putting me in some role-play situation. Annie always gives clients plenty of opportunity to tell their whole story and listens to make sure she understands rather than rushing in with an answer and showing off what she knows. One day I asked whether she ever lost her patience. “You can’t do that,” she said. “The fact that a client takes the time to explain his problem should be considered a gift, never a waste of your time. Only when you understand all the ins and outs can you work on finding a solution and give the right advice.”

No vacuum cleaners

“With all due respect to the people that do it, we’re not in the business of selling vacuum cleaners,” she told me. “You can safely say that our applications are not the easiest, technically speaking. The possibilities are virtually endless: different processes, different foils, different gas mixtures, and so on. GEA invests heavily in R&D, so it’s vital to really understand what a client does and doesn’t need. The purchase of our machine is not actually the most important thing for the client.” 

We don’t push – we advise – Ludo Tuyaerts, Senior Sales Engineer GEA Belgium

Don’t push

So what is the most important thing, I asked her. “What really matters is that a client can make his dream a reality. Which is why we always have to go one step further. What have we learned over the years? What problems have we already sorted out in other projects? What innovations were explained to us during training courses? What have we seen in the GEA plants? Those are the kinds of questions we should be asking ourselves, because we’re being given the unique opportunity to put all the pieces of the puzzle together. We’re being given the unique opportunity to help the client with our knowledge and expertise.” And that means we don’t push – we advise.

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