Sales competition to expand to Europe
Sales competition as a learning environment in sales is now being exported to Europe. The European Sales Competition Association has now been established to promote sales competence and develop sales education. The association is managed by Dean Liisa Kairisto-Mertanen from TUAS.
In times of weak economic growth, sales skills are being put to the test. Now, of all times, Finland and the whole of Europe need good sales competence to sell the products of the export industry.
The European Sales Competition Association, established this year to promote the appreciation and competence of sales, tries to include companies in sales education and its development. The sales competition, which is used as a learning method in sales, is the focus.
“The aim is a Europe-wide concept of sales education, which includes companies at all stages of sales education, from planning to implementation and evaluation,” says Dean Liisa Kairisto-Mertanen, who is the Chairperson of the association.
Sales competition tests sales and interaction skills
The sales competition is a method of sales education with its origins in the US. The concept has been adapted for European culture. In the competition, sales skills are tested in a simulated sales situation, in which company representatives act as buyers and students as sellers.
The evaluation of the performance is based on the salesperson’s ability to follow through sales negotiations so that the offered solution fits the situation of the customer. Success in sales requires adapting to the situation of each encountered customer—in other words, the ability to listen to the customer and build the dialogue accordingly.
The Finnish part of the story began in 2008 when Kairisto-Mertanen and Head of Education and Research Marjo Kumpula took part in a sales competition in Dallas. The model was sought also in other competitions organised in the US.
The first Best Seller sales competition in Finland was organised the following year together with Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences.
The first Europe-wide pilot competition was organised last year in Gent, and now the aim is to establish and expand it to the whole of Europe. The competition and concept are constantly being developed further in cooperation with the partner universities, which include Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences, Fachhochschule Wiener Neustadt and Vlerick Business School. The work is supported by the European Union Lifelong Learning Programme.
Perspectives on sales competence
The sales event week “Sales and Purchasing Excellence Week”, which was organised for the first time on 17–20 November, offered viewpoints and experiences on sales competence. The field of sales is currently undergoing a lot of changes, from which the need to organise the event came about. In the field, understanding customers’ needs is especially important.
The majority of B2B buyers contact a sales professional only after having done research on the subject, and the majority also make the decision to buy before contacting sales personnel.
This was the statement of Professor Deva Rangarajan from the University of Vlerick. Digitalisation changes the essence of the sales event, but also opens up new opportunities for it.
100 knack, 10 snack, 1 tack
Is sales about persistence? Is the old Swedish saying of vacuum cleaner salesmen “100 knack, 10 snack, 10 tack” ("100 knocks, 100 talks, 1 thanks”) valid in the digital world of today? These were the thoughts highlighted by one of Skype’s founders, Jonas Kjellberg, who nowadays works, for example, as an entrepreneurship and sales trainer.
He also encouraged failure and to look for new business opportunities by finding new angles and doing things differently.
The basic question in sales was condensed by Kjellberg as an idea that might seem trivial: “for whom, what and why are you selling?”
Sales Excellence Center started its operations
During the event week in sales, Sales Excellence Center was also semi-officially opened. It offers sales competence and training for companies and communities. Its basic idea is to work as the shop window of TUAS’ sales competence. The center combines the competence of sales experts and students’ inventive work in companies’ development tasks.
Principal Lecturer Timo Holopainen, who was mainly responsible for the arrangements of Sales and Purchases Excellence Week, confirmed that the week will also be organised next year.