This month, we welcome Petra, a human being with two kids, a pony to look after (daughter just a little too young) and a new job as National Account Manager at Veenhuizen. She comes from a cafeteria background, so the food entrepreneur is no stranger to her. "But I am still excited about going back out into the countryside.
This has everything to do with the technical knowledge that is sometimes involved in such a sales meeting. "There is so much information out there and I know that I want to be in control of it before I give someone a run for their money. I set the bar pretty high for myself.
Of course, I don't have to be able to take a whole machine apart and put it back together again. For specialist knowledge, you take a professional with you or there is always someone you can call. So the challenge is not to demand from myself that I know everything. At the same time, I'm really looking forward to entering into those relationships with customers."
What does a day in the life of an account manager look like? "An account manager ensures that orders come in. Normally, this also involves a bit of cold acquisition, but that is not for me. I walk in with a baking oven and walk out with a baking oven and ten loaves of bread.
I am much more in favour of long-term relationships. A client tells you that he or she is thinking about expanding and you call again within a period of time to find out how things are going. Fortunately, this fits in well with Veenhuizen's vision of growing from existing clients.
For example, I was recently on location with a master baker. While he was talking to us, he was in the meantime directing his staff on the shop floor. He was absolutely devastated that his oven wasn't working properly (which we were going to solve for him as soon as possible) and he casually mentioned that he wanted to expand and therefore needed X, Y and Z immediately. That is what I like to see. This entrepreneur wants to make first-class products and knows that Veenhuizen is the right address for him.
Respecting people's dignity
According to Petra, it is important for the customer relationship that you let people feel valued. "What you definitely don't want to do is barge in somewhere and tell the customer what's what. The customer knows his/her business best and by listening well and really connecting with this person, you can strengthen each other.
In addition, a good customer relationship is mainly a question of saying what you do and doing what you say. No selling empty promises or castles in the air. I would find that extremely irritating myself. In the past, I have really pushed people who wanted to set up something new off their rocker. Don't you know how many hours you will be working and that it will be hard work in the first few years? You always have to show the full picture."
The tastiest apple cake Petra has already met a great challenge in her first days. "There's an apple cake recipe in circulation and it seems that once you've eaten that, you never want to eat another one. Bas (General Manager) has challenged me to bake this apple cake here in the MIWE oven, to see if it tastes any better. Of course, I'm happy to take on that challenge!