In a two-day training session organised in October last year, six Technical Sales Engineers received training to enhance their commercial skills. The training was given by Hielke Dijkstra, whose coaching agency provides communication training for company employees. Technical Sales Engineers Erwin Blauw and Marte Roorda talk about their learning objectives, experiences and lessons learned.
Need for continued personal developement
Earlier that year, we had held our annual Big Five For Life session, in which we jointly define our annual objectives and translate them into action plans. During the session, it became clear that there was a need among our Technical Sales Engineers to increase their commercial skills. Soft skills come naturally to here, says Marte. She was a student representative for her food technology study programme, regularly gave presentations and had a part-time job as a teacher. “But asking the right questions and taking the lead in a conversation to strengthen the connection with the customer – that was something I wanted to learn more about.”
The training addressed topics such as Leading by asking, role playing, and non-verbal communication. By means of the 7Ws (who, what, where, with what, which way, when and why), they delved deeper into how the right questions can be asked, and discussed different conversation techniques. “Hielke was enthusiastic and gave us a lot of practical examples and experiences,”says Erwin. He showed how even a slight difference in the approach to asking questions can make a big difference in conversations. This facilitates directing and taking charge of the conversation, while making it more valuable for both parties at the same time.
Teambuilding by role playing
Role playing was used to simulate practical situations that can occur. Each participant role played a situation they had chosen themselves and in which they responded to a partner. Erwin: “We could immediately apply in the role play what we had learned earlier during the day. And we also had the opportunity to watch a recording of our own conversation afterwards. That gives a different perspective on how it went.”
The role plays were recorded so that they could be viewed together afterwards, and the participants could give each other feedback. Some people might find an exercise like this stressful, but Marte had no problem with it at all. “It was a very educational experience that made us aware of our unconscious actions and non-verbal communication. We learned how we can use this to start up conversations with more confidence.” Sharing experiences and helping each other by giving feedback also strengthened the relationship between colleagues.
Building strong relationships
These were valuable exercises that gave participants insights and the tools to build stronger relationships with customers. The newly gained knowledge helps the Masters in Membrains recognise the needs and wishes of customers more quickly and respond to them effectively. Asking the right questions clarifies more quickly what the key factors are in the collaboration and how the relationship with the customer can be strengthened.
“Clear communication with the customer. With a specific goal in mind, so that we use our time efficiently and know what to expect from each other,” says Erwin. Marte adds: “It’s all about making a valuable connection with the customer, each in our own way.”
Would you like to know more about the sales training and how it can help your company? Don’t hesitate to contact our Masters in Membrains at firstname.lastname@example.org.