Sales / Marketing
In touch with new reality
by Isabella Lee
Increased demand for pre- and post-sales support and quick service has prompted a shift from traditional sales models to a more customer-focused approach across major industries.
"In the past, sales people were product peddlers whose main objectives were to complete transactions, meet their targets and pocket their commissions," says Alfred Law, director, sales division, Ricoh Hong Kong Limited. A market leader in office automation, imaging and document management, Ricoh Hong Kong offers its clients a one-stop solution, which includes pre-sales consultations, recommendations for document solutions, implementation, network integration and a comprehensive range of after-sales services.
"Delivering the right products and services to customers by the right people is the only key today," says Mr Law.
Ricoh Hong Kong is currently looking for additional sales executives. Relevant work experience is not crucial, but job candidates must be professional, sincere and enthusiastic, Mr Law points out, adding that staff will be placed on a well-structured development programme starting with a month's initial training.
This will not only familiarise them with Ricoh's work processes and systems, but also provide them with the necessary product and service knowledge, as well as foster an appreciation of the company's vision, mission and values. In addition to this, they will also meet with "ambassadors" from different departments to gain practical insights into individual divisions and roles.
These ambassadors are in the best position to explain the specific functions of their departments. They will help new colleagues to understand the company's operations as a whole. Mr Law adds, "It is particularly useful for new staff to learn about the company's culture and goals first-hand from the ambassadors."
Once they have completed their initial training, the sales executives will continue to receive ongoing support from their more experienced peers. They can expect hands-on advice on anything from setting up schedules, to drawing up proposals and boosting interpersonal relationships and career advice.
"We also deem it important to reward outstanding performers in our team of nearly 200 people. In addition to a clear and fair incentive system for basic salaries and commissions, we also present a monthly Ichiban Award to motivate sales growth. Staff who meet the set target receive prizes ranging from generous cash gifts to overseas trips," Mr Law explains.
Ricoh Hong Kong nurtures career growth by encouraging ongoing development and learning. Its unique e-learning platform comprises a wide array of modules designed to equip employees across the region with the necessary know-how and skills to excel in their jobs.
"The sales profession has changed a lot over the years, but it's still a numbers game and whether we can get the figures depends on people. In the modern business world, our staff must understand our customers' needs and offer them appropriate solutions. To do so, we need to ensure that we have the right support and the right solutions in the first place," says Mr Law.
The company looks at a variety of factors when conducting performance assessments and considering promotions. Aside from sales results, team members are appraised on criteria such as attitude towards customers and ability to work as part of a team. The company also carries out staff surveys to identify employees' specific strengths and weaknesses and then design suitable training programmes for future development.
The sales executives are backed by Ricoh's leading market position, Mr Law emphasises, noting that the company is the only one in the industry to have set up its own Service Pledge, a move that has helped boost customer confidence and satisfaction. This is complemented by additional support from other teams, such as the maintenance engineers and call centre.
Mr Law stresses that Ricoh offers its sales people a great platform from which to launch their careers. "Since we're expanding, we have a number of job openings for people trying to break into the field. This, in turn, creates plenty of opportunities for promotion for existing team members. Ambitious go-getters hoping to become account managers or document consultants will find plenty of scope for growth at Ricoh," he concludes.
Taken from Career Times 9 July 2010, B3
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