Our new Sales Representative tells us about the markets in which he will operate and the future perspectives
Business development in German-speaking countries has always played, for us, a fundamental role. A year ago, Solema started looking for a new commercial figure for the German, Austrian and German-speaking Swiss markets.
After a careful selection, the choice fell on Harry Marian, a 59-year-old German salesman with 25 year of international experience. Harry is collaborating with us since about a year in role of Sales Representative for the mentioned markets.
Good morning Harry. Which were your first steps in the job route? And how did you get in touch with Solema?
Good morning to you. My career started with an education as industrial bookbinder and I graduated with Bookbinding Master degree in 1993. After graduating, I started in 1996 working in the sales of bookbinding machines for Stahl VBF, a company specialized in lines for hardcover book production. It was in that years that I “met” Solema for the first time, and therefore I can say that we have known each other for a long time…
In Germany the bookbinding industry was and still remains a small world in itself, in which everyone knows each other. This allowed me, after the years spent in Stahl VBF, to have experience also at Sigloch Machinenbau, at Kolbus and then at Müller Martini, companies that kept alive my relationship with Solema, a reality that at the time already played a decisive role in the bookbinding sector.
Whether it was for a supply of belts, drying system or end-of-line machines, Solema was very often involved in many of the projects I was working on. With Solema I often met at fairs and at customers and this led to always having greatest respect one for each other.
How have you become Solema’s agent for Germany, Austria and Switzerland?
As I mentioned before, my relationship with Solema has never stopped, and thanks to this, a year ago I discovered that the Solema Management was looking for a figure who would represent them commercially in the markets of German-speaking countries. I felt ready for a new challenge and so I got in touch with Luca Parsani, CEO of Solema, proposing myself for the role of Sales Representative. His answer was: ”Ok Harry, you were basically born in this world and you have all the necessary attitudes to do a good job, you know the market and the customers know you, you are perfect for us.”.
Why did you choose the commercial sector rather than another one?
At the beginning of my career as a bookbinder, the time I spent in production areas were illuminating for me. I was fascinated to see customers visiting the company to understand the various steps of bookbinding production. We had groups of visitors from China, North America and other parts of the world, that were somehow “pampered” by skilled and perfectly prepared salespeople explaining them the operating technologies of machines and binding processes.
Listening to those Sales professionals, I realized that I wanted to reach that point, so in my free time, I began to study hard both techniques and languages, especially English, a fundamental tool that would have allowed me, within a few years, to explain better the binding processes to my customers when I was travelling international.
This phase of my professional training made me somehow “more commercial”. I could have not limit myself to be a technician who explained the technologies, my goal was to illustrate the production processes by proposing and providing at the same time the best and most innovative technical solution to customers, supporting them in order to obtain together, over time, great results. This was the driver why I chose to work in the commercial sector.
In the relationship with customers, how important is the purely technical aspect and how much is the result of emotionality and your ability to relate with them?
I would say it is the result of a mix of the two. You need to know the technologies well enough because they are closely related to the production processes. If you deeply master them, it is easier then to propose the ideal solution to customers and explain why one is better than the other, from the point of view of productivity, from the one of manpower saving and from the one of the work quality. So I would say that in my job it is necessary to have the right combination of technical knowledge and empathic openness: if well dosed, these two ingredients will produce the right formula to connect in the best way with the customer.
Every time I propose a machine to a customer, I not only enhance its technical features, but I also try to convey the trust, reliability and safety that machines will guarantee over time, explaining that even after the selling the customer can always count on the supplier company that will support him.
What advice would you give to a young man who aims to excel in the sales sector?
As I mentioned before, if you want to be successful in the sales sector, it is in my point of view essential that you have a wide knowledge of the technologies and production processes that they can generate. It is the best way to combine suitable solutions and provide customers with smart and effective proposals.
But also language skills have their importance, especially in order to get close to people and to reach their emotional chords, because only with careful and articulate exposition a Sales representative will be able to convince a customer to buy one of our machines.
A customer is never buying only a machine, he also pays you a lot of trust when he is placing an order for a machine. You can build this trust only when you can “reach” him in all the discussions and explanations before.
The right combination of technical and linguistic knowledge allows any salesperson to fully gain the customer's trust. Let's imagine what a customer may think while facing with a salesman: "He wants to help me, he doesn't just want to sell me a machine, he will certainly support me even after the sale". This is the key point. If you achieve this, you have a clear path to success.
Staying on the same theme, do you think it is important to know many languages?
Knowing more languages is always a plus. I am a German native speaker and I have studied English for many years, especially when I started working in the international sales sector and I had to travel a lot, especially in North America. Also dealing with the markets of the United Kingdom, Scandinavia, the Baltic States and parts of the Middle East, I soon learned to communicate in English and also to understand the different dialects and variations.
And how are you doing with Italian?
I would love to talk Italian, especially now that I work full time with Solema. It would be very useful for me to know your language but unfortunately, at the moment, I only know a few words, let's say the most common. My wife and I love Italy very much, for us it has always been the ideal country to spend the holidays, and also last summer we were on a fantastic place, Lake Como!
In your opinion, which are the strengths through which Solema can make a difference in the eyes of potential customers?
Solema has always been a company very attentive to innovation, offering to the customers numerous technological, intelligent and up-to-date solutions. The feedbacks I receive daily from people involved in our projects are all positive, especially those involving the technical and after-sales service departments. Nowadays it is a crucial part, dare I say essential, in our sector. I believe immediate customer support is a strength that every company should take care in the smallest detail.
Solema is a company that has a great reputation in the German-speaking markets and has earned it by proving, over the years, to be a reliable partner, and this is exactly what prompted me to join your team with the aim to sell the largest number of machines in my areas: Germany, Austria and German-speaking Switzerland. The professionalism and high regard that Solema has built up in these countries undoubtedly make it easier and more pleasant to work for this Italian company. In Germany, my country, Solema's image is remarkable, and this makes me happy!
What future prospects do you see for Solema in relation to the areas of your competence?
For Solema I see a very positive future, because in the areas of my competence, the number of companies that require automation services is constantly growing, in order to increase the production and quality level of work, and save on management costs. This means that the demand for technological solutions capable of improving and optimizing production lines is increasing, not only from the point of view of speed and performance, but above all to make the development of the lines more efficient and dynamic.
At Solema we are able to satisfy in the best way all the opportunities that the market offers us, proposing suitable solutions to improve production cycles while keeping high profits.
In addition, the advent of the pandemic has forced customers to find automated technical solutions that could replace the manpower that, for obvious reasons, has suddenly disappeared.
Moreover, it is more and more difficult to find the workers in the bookbinding sector as a lot of them are not willing to take heavy shifts or unattractive working times and low salaries, it is very difficult to find people willing to do these jobs.
Introducing a certain number of extra machines into production can solve the situation. This is what I try to explain to my potential customers who don’t know Solema and what we can do for them. I am thinking, for example, of the efficiency by using a book block feeder to feed a production system, or a Pluton palletizer at the end of the line or a boxing machine for a process where 5 or 6 people currently work. That's why I see a bright future for Solema with very positive perspectives. There are many potential customers on the horizon, and this increases my enthusiasm for joining Solema and for being here today to talk about it with you.
For more information about Solema write to firstname.lastname@example.org or call +39 035 654111.