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Have you ever pondered your next move at the chessboard and developed a strategy how to achieve high impact for the global B2B sales? Basically that’s the mission of our colleagues of the Sales Strategy and Steering team – of course with more than 16 pieces and a little bit more pressure of time. We met Sarah Busse (Director of Sales and Steering), Birte Gromotka (Manager Sales Strategy and Steering), Kevin Ma (Manager Sales Strategy and Steering), Paola Baggi (Manager Sales Steering), Nick Ni (Manager Sales Strategy and Steering), Dorothee Niebuhr (Junior Manager Sales Strategy & Steering) and Kristen Ong (Manager Sales Strategy and Steering) to find out how chess and working at the HRS Group fit together.
Working in the Sales Strategy and Steering team means to me…
Kevin: …driving the best performance and high sales results for our global and local sales teams.
Birte: … to really support our sales force in their day-to-day work, e.g. simplifying admin processes, providing tools and documents, but also keeping an eye on the central rules we have defined.
Paola: … feeling part of five international offices and having the opportunity to share best practices all around the globe.
Sarah: … coming to work with a smile every day and basically challenging and supporting the global sales organisation to achieve the highest sales results and most importantly to have a great team that is fun to work with.
As the name suggests, you are experts in steering and developing strategies. For what do you develop strategies? And who do you steer?
Birte: We are steering our worldwide Corporate Solutions Sales force. This means, on the one hand we develop strategies how to steer our sales force in the right direction and on the other hand we have to find out which products we need to sell to which customers in order to achieve our strategic goals.
Kevin: For example, the APAC region might need a completely different strategy for some certain areas. Therefore, each Sales team manager per region has to localize the fit and the needs of customers in the respective market.
Paola: And moreover, we challenge the management a little. To sum up, the strategies we develop have the goal of increasing our sales performance throughout the existing and future markets.
What are the greatest challenges in your daily work?
Sarah: There are always two sides of the coin – on the one hand, we support our colleagues by providing best practices. On the other hand, we challenge the sales team by looking at performance figures and numbers. Finding the right balance is one of the greatest challenges everyone faces in his or her region.
Birte: For me it is our business model as we have a very complex product. It’s demanding to know which products to focus on.
Kevin: Another challenge is to manage our stakeholders. In my opinion it’s key for us to remain objective when we deliver our work and to maintain the highest standard of excellence.
Birte: And also time differences are sometimes challenging for a global team because we hardly ever work at the same time.
Sarah: Yes, it’s like a long-distance relationship.
Who is part of your team and how do you divide up the responsibilities?
Sarah: Birte is taking care of the global performance and project management. Nick is responsible for indirect partnerships. We are basically divided in our four big regions: Paola (located in Milan) for South West and Eastern Europe, Dorothee (Cologne) for North and Central Europe, Kevin (Shanghai) for Asia-Pacific and Kristen (New York) for Americas.
What do you like most about your job?
Birte: That every day is different. We don’t really have a daily business routine because a lot of our work is based on projects and we always get a lot of ad-hoc requests. So, it never gets boring.
Kevin: I really like the fast pace and the dynamic of the role. We have a Chinese phrase for that: 不心累 which means that you can be physically tired, but still in high spirits.
Sarah: To me it’s also working with our top management team and that we can really make a difference and change something.
Which animal would embody your team and why?
Kevin: The donkey – for two reasons. First, we support the rest of the sales team, hence caring a lot. At the same time, we can also kick asses when we need to.
Sarah: The donkey is also our team mascot we elected four weeks ago. Kevin has bought it for all team members – so we have four donkeys which are sitting in the four different regions. (see photo)
What was the most important lesson you have learned at HRS?
Birte: To be pragmatic – sometimes things need to go fast, which means that you can’t reconsider your decisions. Moreover, I learned prioritization. Since we have so many important topics to work on, we have to see where we can deliver most benefits.
Kevin: I agree. It is the 80-to-20 rule: roughly 80 percent of the effects come from 20 percent of the causes. Thus, you should spend 80 percent of your time by delivering the maximum result.
Sarah: In general, you should always be curious and challenge the status quo. There is always something we can do better!
Which problem/topic beyond your work does need a new strategy and why?
Kevin: One of the biggest topics in China right now is getting to work. There is so much traffic and the rush hour is so crazy. There urgently needs to be a new strategy.
Paola: I think my most favorite pizza restaurant should change its delivery strategy. They are disorganized and sometimes pizza is arriving late and cold. Even though the quality of the food is really high, they will lose customers, if they don’t affiliate to a food delivery application.
Birte: To begin with: I’m from Düsseldorf. Therefore, one topic that needs a new strategy is the relationship between Cologne and Düsseldorf. Because as you can see in our team: It can work.
Ballpoint pen or fountain pen?
Birte: Ballpoint pen
Dorothee: Ballpoint pen for everyday use, yet fountain pen when time allows to write a handwritten message.
Beach or mountains?
Dorothee: Mountains – the feeling after climbing up the summit is extraordinary
Paola: Definitely beach – and long walks on the seashore