Agfa is best known perhaps for consumer products such as photographic films.
“Yet we are much more than that” confirms Agfa Poland’s General Manager, Marek Pultorak. “Globally we supply a wide range of high-end imaging solutions and in Poland, in particular, there are three key business groups, namely Consumer Imaging, Graphic Systems and Healthcare, employing a total of fifty-five staff”.
In reviewing the company’s sales development strategy, Marek Pultorak recognised the increasing importance of identifying the real requirements of Agfa’s customers. In order to become the ‘partner of choice’ in its chosen markets, Agfa aims to offer, “leading edge technology, new ways of working and an understanding of the business and individual needs of our customers that goes beyond that of our nearest competitor”.
However, in the Polish marketplace, this had become especially critical. “As an ‘emerging market’, for several years the key players were more concerned with gaining market share than with the level of pricing or profitability, which made Poland one of the cheapest markets in Europe”, he recalls. “Yet since then, a rapidly growing market and the impact of the global economic downturn has started to put strong pressure on costs and the price we need to achieve for our products. The result is that the quality, rather than simply the number, of our salespeople, has become of critical importance”.
At this time, the general manager became aware of Huthwaite’s SPIN® course for the first time and, “was impressed with a technique which does not allow you to describe your products without knowing the customer’s needs”. He still remembers vividly a subsequent meeting with two representatives from Huthwaite Poland, “where I laid snares but was eventually snared myself. My conclusion? If these ladies can ‘SPIN®’ me so well, what will happen when my key salespeople get the tool?”
“I was impressed with a technique which does not allow you to describe your products without knowing the customer’s needs.”
Marek Pultorak, General Manager, AGFA
Business group managers and account managers from all three sectors undertook training in SPIN® Selling, Negotiation Skills and Account Strategy for Major Sales. Recognising the importance of a company-wide understanding of this radical new approach, representatives from Agfa’s finance, marketing and service support departments also attended the SPIN® courses. The courses were well received by the participants and subsequent evaluation questionnaires highlighted lessons learned which would prove invaluable in improving future sales performance.
With the Negotiation Skills course, the ability to analyse behaviours, understanding that ‘win–win’ is possible in real situations, and demonstrating which behaviours need to be improved to achieve this, were seen as valuable aids to achieving better sales results.
For his part, one of the participants, Stefan Piotrowski, who is Deputy Director, Graphic Systems, likes the
“Learning the skill of SPIN® was not easy”, he points out. “Yet today I can see that you need an internal discipline to use it effectively, and understand the real value of doing one’s homework and being fully prepared before every meeting”.
Another benefit not anticipated by AGFA Poland was that SPIN® helped it improve its internal communications. “We learned to listen to each other, ask questions and build better internal relations,” concludes Marek Pultorak. “In short, SPIN® goes well with the culture of our company”.
“We learned to listen to each other, ask questions and build better internal relations, In short, SPIN® goes well with the culture of our company.”
Stefan Piotrowski, Deputy Director, Graphic Systems. AGFA“logical cohesion and concentration on customer needs during each stage of the Buying Cycle”.