How important are sales and marketing for your company? The answer may seem obvious. But actually, for many companies, especially in some sectors like IT or logistics, is not.
Harry Clarijs is a trainer and coach at Value Add, a commercial marketing and business coaching and training company in the Netherlands. During an interview with us, Harry explained how in many cases companies are too focused on technical things and on the quality of their technology products and lose the focus on sales and marketing, losing also many business opportunities. We talked about many things: how during his training he manages to change the behaviour of his customers towards marketing and sales, the barriers to change and he tries to overcome those.
Q: Can you tell me something about yourself and your career?
A: I have an IT background. But since the beginning of my career, I was interested in technology and in people. I then shifted to the sales part of IT, becoming a sales manager and then sales director. Then in 2010, I decided that I wanted to go further for myself and so I started my own company, Value Add. I chose to follow my passion for sales and in helping other people to become more successful in sales, a very important area of the business. The main reason is that in IT most people are technical, and do not really care or are not interested in sales and marketing for the products. They are only worried that the products and software are working, and the processes are followed. But sales are fundamental for a business. So, knowing how things work in It, I decided to especially focus on helping IT customers to reach more success in sales and marketing for their companies. A very small example: customers of an IT company, they don’t buy SharePoint, the technical solution itself. Instead, they buy collaboration and what collaboration means to them, also using SharePoint as their means and tool to be collaborative in the digital workplace of today. So, if you focus on collaboration, you can sell more than focusing only on the technical aspects of SharePoint!
Q: And what do you specifically do to spread this message around IT companies? A: Well, first, I organize these power sessions that are a sort of short workshop in which I motivate the customers and make them understand why it is important to focus on sales and marketing for their business. During these sessions, I address common topics like “how to get more customers and how to grow existing customers”. Besides that, I also do coaching, like 1:1 session with the customers. Then I do also training and business cases.
Q: And does it feel to be a trainer nowadays with an IT background? A: It’s s a very nice feeling! I shifted from a desk job to an office job and now I am always surrounded by people and giving workshops and training. I like to be open and help people with the right training they need, inspire them to achieve more. I enjoy very much when people are growing also thanks to me and my work. This gives me energy!
Q: What is the main challenge of being a trainer in this field? A: I would say the main challenge is to deal with an audience that is always very different and with different requests, needs and goals. It is important to adjust to them but sometimes it is also hard to speak their own language and to meet their expectations. Also, sometimes it is difficult to make people understand some concepts and above all make them actually implement into their business what I taught to them. Many times, they are very enthusiastic during the sessions, but then they do not act concretely.
Q: So, part of your job is also to make people change their behaviour and ways of working? A: Oh yes, definitely! That is one of the most important parts because if you are not acting, everything you learned remains useless for your business. Q: Yes indeed… A: And you know, change is always difficult. But change is vital for your business. You have to push people to change, otherwise, it’s a waste of time, money and above all opportunities for you and your business. You need to have the right attitude to change.
Q: What is your strategy to make people change? A: Reluctance is something concrete. Many people are reluctant, they are not convinced that the right thing is to change their behaviour and ways of working. But you know, with these people, it doesn’t work to convince them. That is the wrong strategy. Instead, you have to let them practice, see the benefits and the concrete outcomes. Only in that way you are going to succeed with them.
Q: I think that experience is really the best strategy. A: Yes, and it is fundamental to also count the different communication styles of your audience or your customers and use the most appropriate for them.
Q: And in your daily practice, which kind of barriers do you experience the mist in your audience towards change? A: Well some people say that they can do it themselves and they have no need of help from external people since they consider themselves very experiences and thus they think they can do it. But eventually they don’t do it, they don’t even try, and they go on postponing. Some other people do not accept the fact that someone else knows more than they know, and that person can teach them a better way of doing things. But then when they are experiencing the difficulties, then they ask for help and then I help them. So, these are the most frequent obstacles.
Q: And how do you overcome these obstacles? A: What I do is to be patient, helpful and work on making them experience the difficulties and how they can solve them in an easy way. And focus on the results, because everybody, in the end, wants to see the results.
Changing the ways of working of people is always challenging. This is a universally valid concept, applicable to every sector and toe very change, learn how to use new technology, a new way of working or a new marketing and sales strategy. However, as Harry tells us, with the right attitude and the appropriate strategy, nothing is impossible. Learn more on our PACE change management strategy and download our PACE whitepaper.