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Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Are Finnish companies with international targets often afraid of investing on sales?

Are Finnish companies with international targets often afraid of investing on sales?

I have been growth hacking globally for over ten years, and I know that it requires a holistic approach to the marketing, sales and business practices of a company.

I’m always looking for new insights, so I am pleased when I encounter professionals like Tomi Toikka, a sales director from Finland.

My recent interview of him began with a single challenging question: Are Finnish companies with international targets often afraid of investing on sales?

-- Christian Dillstrom

Tomi, you have told me that the Finnish companies with international targets are often afraid of investing on sales.

Could you please tell me more about it?
Lately I've had discussions with employees who are working for Finnish companies which are exporting their offering services and/or products to international customers.

Many of them are suffering from the lack of sales resources just because the company is not willing to take any economical risks by hiring professional salesmen and sales directors to ramp up their sales.

OK, how do they handle their sales process then?
Well, someone is trying to handle the sales along his/her other duties which will prevent them to ramp up their sales and increase their turnover.

In my opinion that's the bottleneck of their businesses.

Should they hire professional salesmen ja sales directories, they'd get their investments back very easily.

Could you please tell me about the benefits of investing on professional salesmen and sales directors?
A professional salesman/sales director can concentrate solely to increase his/her network, taking care of feeds on social media, new customer acquisition, finding new business possibilities, taking care of already existing customers and negotiating possible frame agreements which will bring continuence to the business and increase volumes & turnover of the company.

What's your opinion about the freedom sales department should have in their everyday's work?
The sales department should have independence to do their work without being constantly controlled by the management.

As long the sales department is delivering and
won't throw any money in the wind, they're doing fine.

What do you think about requirements listed in usual job-ads such as business branch spesific experience and knowledge?
I don't care if the salesmen are not the experts of their business segment when they're starting. I'd rather prefer that their motivation is up to par, they possess the knowledge of international business, they're hungry for sales and willing to learn new things very quickly.

Could you please tell me more about it?
Those Finnish export companies are usually from various business segments, for example IT, mechanical industry, healthcare and so on.

In my opinion it's not so important to know all tidbits of a certain
business segment because they can be learned during one's career.

What would you consider to be the most valuable assets then?The most important is to know how to handle everyday's international business life, be familiar with different kind of working cultures and how to take advantage of that knowledge.

How would you keep skillful sales experts motivated and in the company?
That's a very good question. Good modern management without any micromanagement, fair compensation with attractive incentive policy which will encourage salesmen to surpass themselves over and over again without any direct competition between them.

Why do you consider internal competition to be such a bad thing?
Should there be any direct competition between salesmen, that will jeopardize their team work and co-operation with each other which is needed every once in a while.

What if the incentive policy seems to be too generous after a while?
Even though the incentive policy should be attractive, one should be really careful when creating such a policy.

If the sales will ramp up very rapidly, a company might consider cutting off some of the incentives of salesmen by adjusting the sales targets which will probably lead skillful salesmen to leave the company.

And you don't want that to happen, do you?
No, skillful salesmen are one of the most valuable assests of the company so no one wants that to happen, right?

So take your time when you're creating an attractive incentive policy.

Could you please summarize what we've been discussing here?
So Finnish companies with international targets, remember these things:
  • invest boldly on sales. That'll pay off after a while
  • let sales department take care of sales quite freely as long as they'll bring in the money and increase the turnover
  • when recruiting sales people, don't pay attention to their business segment specific knowledge. Pay attention they have a right kind of attitude, knowledge of international business and different working cultures. Business segment specific knowledge can be taught and learned.
  • keep sales people movivated with good modern management, fair compensation and attractive incentive policy.

Good luck with your future sales endeavours!


About Tomi Toikka:
Tomi is an experienced sales professional who has worked as a Sales Director/Manager & Key Account Manager in international & national business.

During the last 20 years Tomi has worked for Finnish, Swiss, Danish and Latvian companies and gathered knowledge about international sales, organization and business development.

He has demonstrated skills in developing and executing policies and procedures that increase revenues.