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Sales & Distribution

In Germany, our sizeable distribution network is unparalleled in our industry. We deliver directly to large companies in the trade as well as to wholesalers. Most of our Sales & Distribution staff are qualified interior fixtures and fittings technicians, parquet flooring fitters or flooring technicians; they are therefore able to offer our customers optimum technical advice and support. The success of both our sales representatives and their customers is based on personal contact and mutual trust.

Interviews

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Steffen Battran, Regional Sales Manager Asia

Since mid 2014 Steffen Battran has been the Regional Sales Manager Asia at our Chinese subsidiary in Shanghai. What were the first impressions of our colleague Steffen Battran?

“When you grow up around Ulm and then arrive in a global metropolis like Shanghai, one is of course overwhelmed at the outset by the very size of the city and the sheer infinite number of people and every day is like an adventure.

23 million people need their space.
This impression is reflected on the way to work on the underground every morning. There are totally overcrowded streets and underground stations everywhere you look.

Once one arrives at work the daily work routine is relatively similar to the one in Germany.

However, communicating with colleagues often turns out to be a problem.
As only a few people speak English and I still had to learn the Chinese language, at the outset there were one or two misunderstandings.
It is always important to me to put myself in the place of my Chinese colleagues and understand their way of thinking. I also try to implement this in my communications. For example, you should not ask questions that can be answered with ”yes" or “no”. If you explain something to colleagues and then ask if they have understood what you have said, they will always answer with “yes” even if they had not understood what I had been talking about.
 
Since I not only changed my working environment, but also my whole area of responsibility, I am learning new things every day and have the opportunity to constantly improve.

In Germany I worked in the central controlling department of Uzin Utz AG. Now I am mainly responsible for sales in Asia and as an interface to Germany for our Chinese subsidiary in Shanghai".

 
The interview was conducted in 2015.

Robert Weckerle, SwitchTec Area Sales Manager Bavaria; Trainer

What do you do, what are your responsibilities, and how long have you been with the company?

I joined the company at the beginning of 2005, when the Uzin Utz AG took over the Siga Floor AG. I am now the Area Sales Manager Bavaria for Uzin dry adhesives. Me and my team look after our customers directly on site. I join the training courses and visit major customers. Other than that, we all do our fair share.

What did you train as and how did you become a sales representative?

I have completed two vocational training courses, one as an telecommunication electronics technician, and one as a flooring technician. I also have a Bachelor's in Technology Management, passed an exam in area management and qualified as a certified trainer. And now I am responsible for the Bavarian sales division, as well as for switchTec training and training courses.

Have you actually worked as a flooring technician, or did you go into sales straight away?

I ran my own interior fixtures and fittings shop for many years. It is always good if you have also got hands-on experience with the products you sell.

What does your day-to-day working life look like and how many customers does a sales representative usually see in an average day?

The sales reps have got to 'get out and about', as we used to say. These days, the job also involves a lot of paper work, you work from home for around one-and-a-half days a week, apart from that you are out there with the customers. There isn't a set number of customers each sales representative looks after, it all depends. There are areas with many contractors and wholesalers and areas where there tend to be less customers, in terms of number.

What was it like for you when the Uzin Utz AG took over the Siga Floor AG, how did you feel about that?

I admit it was not easy at the beginning, it was quite a surprise for the staff to be told all of a sudden that we would transfer to another company. There were areas of conflict, just like in any merger. With regard to internal procedures, it takes a while for the different cultures to come together, although that went quite well in the end.

What do you particularly appreciate about the Uzin Utz AG as an employer?

I particularly value the fact that you are accepted as a person as well as a colleague here. When you bring in ideas you have picked up out in the field, they are listened to and you receive encouragement. And there are also excellent career prospects. Personal development is encouraged through 'Horizons' - the in-house academy for further training and qualification.

What skills does a sales representative need to have?

Above all, you have to be able to motivate yourself. There are no set working hours, that means you need to use your initiative and get up early in the morning even though you don't have to clock in and out, and decide on your route for the day. Nobody tells you what you have to do, you have to set your own priorities. You have to be reliable and well-organised as you sometimes have to drive to somewhere that is several hundred kilometres away, so you mustn't leave any important documents behind. You have to work it all out exactly beforehand, who am I talking to today, what about, what's my objective. And you also have to think about the small talk, what does this particular customer like and how do I get a foot in the door? I also have to be very target-oriented and use the time I spend with customers effectively. You only see each customer once a fortnight, meaning that I have to make a deal there and then, rather than put the negotiations off. And finally, of course you also need to have a thorough product knowledge. After all, you also advise customers and need to know what it is that you are offering them. To summarise, I'd say: every sales rep should have an aptitude for taking the initiative unsupervised; once you are out there, you are a lone warrior but you also have to contribute something to the team. 

So what is the dialogue between you and your colleagues like if you don't actually meet up that often?

That works really well. We meet up at irregular intervals; on training courses, in internal meetings and for target negotiations with major customers. And when we do meet, the dialogue is very intense.
Although you are more or less given a free reign as a sales rep, you are not alone. If there are problems, we solve them together, as a team.