Myyjän ja asiakkaan välinen vuorovaikutus B2B-myynnissä

Tiistai 6.10.2015 - Jarkko Niemi

Menestyksekäs asiakassuhde B2B-myynnissä rakentuu monista aineksista, kuten tämän blogin aiemmissa teksteissä on todettu: siinä on kyse muun muassa ihmisten välisestä vuorovaikutuksesta, asiakkaan kuuntelemisen taidosta, yhteistyökyvystä, koko organisaation panoksesta ja toisaalta pienistä detaljeista sekä sattumista, jotka helpottavat suhteen rakentamista ‒ tai tekevät sen vaikeammaksi. Miten näin moniulotteista ilmiötä voisi tutkia? Monitieteinen Mania-projekti tarjoaa asiaan ainutlaatuisen näkökulman. Projektissa myyntityötä tutkitaan paitsi myyjä- ja asiakaspuolen haastatteluiden ja arkisen myyntityön seurannan kautta, myös työssä mukana olevien henkilöiden persoonallisuusprofiloinnin ja todellisten myyntivuorovaikutustilanteiden videoinnin ja vuorovaikutuksen analyysin avulla. Mania-projekti avaa niin kansallisesti kuin kansainvälisesti käänteentekevän perspektiivin B2B-myyntiin.

Kielen ja puhutun vuorovaikutuksen tutkijana olen kiinnostunut vuorovaikutustilanteiden osin tiedostamattomista säännönmukaisuuksista ja rutiineista, joiden avulla keskustelijat tekevät tunnistettavissa olevia sosiaalisia toimintoja. Vuorovaikutuksen analyysissa aluksi mahdollisesti mitättömiltä vaikuttavista yksityiskohdista haetaan lopulta vastauksia muun muassa siihen, miten keskustelijat voivat saavuttaa riittävän yhteisymmärryksen ja kuinka tilanteen tunnelma rakentuu. Abstrakti asia kuten tunnelma ei ole tilanteessa valmiina läsnä, vaan se rakentuu tilanteen osallisten havaittavista toiminnoista ja niihin reagoinnista. Myyntitilanteiden videot, joiden kuvauksesta olen henkilökohtaisesti ollut vastuussa, mahdollistavat yksityiskohtien tarkastelun, sillä niitä voi toistaa uudelleen ja uudelleen. ‒Tässä yhteydessä haluan kiittää kaikkia videointeihin osallistuneita henkilöitä!

Toisaalta lähtökohdaksi voidaan ottaa tietty tunnistettava keskustelujakso, kuten tuotteen tai palvelun hinnasta kysyminen ja hinnan neuvottelu.  Tämä onkin aihe, jonka parissa teen tällä hetkellä töitä. Aihe kiinnostaa minua, koska se on myyntineuvottelujen toistuva mutta ei kuitenkaan pakollinen osa, jonka keskustelijat omilla toimillaan merkitsevät sensitiiviseksi. He saattavat vetäytyä kauemmas neuvottelupöydästä, oikaista ryhtinsä ja muotoilla sanottavansa tavallista huolellisemmin. Tällaisena toistuvana osana se on kiinnostava myös siksi, että asiakkaan aloittaman hintaneuvottelun tehtävässä näyttää olevan variaatiota: yhtäältä hintaneuvottelun voi nähdä merkiksi asiakkaan kiinnostuksesta, toisaalta se voi hahmottua keinoksi ohjata tilanne kohti sen lopetusta. Tutkimuksessani tarkastelen, löytyykö ilmiöstä säännönmukaisuutta ja toistuvia piirteitä, joiden perusteella asiakkaan hintakyselyn voisi tarkemmin tulkita positiiviseksi merkiksi kiinnostuksesta tai negatiiviseksi merkiksi halusta irrottautua neuvottelutilanteesta. Yleisenä kysymyksenä on myös, millaisen myyntitilanteen osa hintakysely suhteellisen yleisenä muttei pakollisena keskustelujaksona on. Onko myyjän syytä olla tyytyväinen, jos asiakas aloittaa hintaneuvottelujakson?

Yllä kerrottu on esimerkki siitä tutkimuksesta, jota nyt käytännössä teemme. Muita esimerkkejä tutkimistamme aiheista ovat muun muassa luottamuksen rakentaminen, jonka tarkastelussa tärkeässä osassa on vuorovaikutustilanteiden ensimmäisten minuuttien tapahtumat, small talk, tietotekniikan käyttö myyntitilanteissa ja videoitujen myyntineuvottelujen jälkeisissä haastatteluissa ongelmallisiksi nimettyjen tilanteiden käsittely. Aihepiirit voivat vaikuttaa toisistaan irrallisilta, mutta niistä kutoutuu keskeinen osa myyntitilannetta ja sen rakentumista myyjän kannalta positiivisempaan tai negatiivisempaan suuntaan. Ne ovat niitä detaljeja, joiden varassa kauppa syntyy tai jää syntymättä.

Jarkko Niemi
FT, yliopistonlehtori
Suomen kielen, suomalais-ugrilaisten ja pohjoismaisten kielten ja kirjallisuuksien laitos
Helsingin yliopisto

Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: vuorovaikutus, B2B-myynti, Mania sales research

Selling belongs to everyone

Tiistai 24.2.2015 - Heidi Kock

I’ve been working in various sales management positions for over 20 years, and three years ago I decided to take a leap into the academic world. Due to my past experience, I was very familiar with the sales challenges companies were facing.  I must say, it took me a bit by surprise at how little academic research there was on some of the sales topics I found utterly critical in business life.  

As sales has become more and more demanding during the past years due to the transformation of buying and selling, I’ve witnessed how vital it is for companies to have employees who are capable of selling. I do not mean only salespeople, even though they form the backbone of a company’s sales function.  I mean all the people involved in selling including (but not limited to) technical consultants and support, customer service, and maintenance, all the people who either directly encounter customers or have a supporting role within the company.  In my mind, they are salespeople too. In our Mania research project, the importance of this area has become quite evident. My interest lies especially in how the whole organization can be active in selling, and how to aid companies to develop their sales function accordingly. That is the topic of my doctorate thesis, as well.

In sales, I think combining the practioners’ and academics’ viewpoints is a good way to provide research that makes a difference for the business world, as well as making an academic contribution. Our research team is a good example of this. Getting the best out of both worlds will definitely help create something novel and different, and, more importantly, impactful.

The companies in Finland have been very open and generous towards our project. Company representatives are willing to give interviews, and even allow video recordings on authentic sales meetings. So far, we have collected an impressive amount of data, 100+ seller and buyer interviews and 20+ video recordings on authentic sales meetings between buyers and sellers.  This makes it possible to ask and analyze matters more deeply instead of making generalizations based on quantitative (questionnaire) data collection. At this point I feel as if I were sitting on a pile of gold.

As an academic researcher, this is a learning process for me, one more reason this is even more interesting. Thanks to my highly competent academic colleagues, I have gotten the kind of coaching, mentoring and practical advice that makes me want to sell the concept of practitioner/academic collaboration to Finnish universities.

Our research project will be completed by the end of this year. We have currently started to analyze the data, and we have already written several scientific articles to be published in conferences. By the end, we will publish more findings in academic journals, as well as develop sales tools for companies.  Hopefully, one piece of that will be to spread the sales culture further throughout businesses.

Selling belongs to everyone. Spread the word.

Heidi Kock

Researcher, lecturer, sales practitioner

heidi.kock@haaga-helia.fi

Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: selling, sales research, mania research project

Visiting with MANIA Sales Research Team and Businesses

Perjantai 3.10.2014 - Ellen Pullins

Greetings from the USA! I am back at the University of Toledo, and have had some time to think about my visit in Helsinki, Week 37. I thoroughly enjoyed my time, which is good, but more importantly, it served to get me even more excited about the important work we will do with the Mania Project. There is so much potential in the project, and the team is fantastic!

Let me start by saying that I have been doing sales research for over 20 years now. Actually, I did industrial research in the sales area even before that, so my practical work experience included conducting studies about salespeople, how they use their time, how training makes them better, best practices, and so on. In addition, I was out in field sales interactions, trained salespeople and more. My academic research has focused on creativity, trust, group differences, negotiation, performance, creating value, compensation, sales technology, mentoring, culture, stereotypes and so forth.  My experience in the sales research domain has exposed me to a large body of work. There is one area, though, that I have rarely encountered much research on: the actual selling interaction.

This is what makes the Mania Sales Research Project so intriguing. In an academic world that notes our sales research is often not really practical, or at least not shared with practitioners, and where we are criticized for looking at only one side of the sales transaction, this project is sorely needed. On top of that, sales research tends to do what economics research is often accused of: assume rationality. But we all know that no sale is that easy. Sometimes our own motives, or our client motives, get in the way; sometimes they help facilitate a deal. Some selling relationships are enhanced by our emotions and moods, others are hurt by this. And yet academic research has had little to say on how a practicing salesperson, or the sales manager or director, can influence this process, capitalize on it, or mitigate negative impacts. How can we use emotions, conversational responses, motives, to our advantage to promote relationship development and the development of collaborative solutions to enhance business?

My week began when I was picked up at the airport by Timo. Can you believe that we have never actually met in person, only by skype or videoconferencing? It was great to get to know him better. The next Mania interaction I had was with the Mania academic research team. These folks are great! I really enjoyed getting to know everyone and deepening relationships. This team brings some very interesting tools and experiences to the table. There are traditional academics and practically-leaning academics. There are doctoral students and seasoned professors. There are professors of practice and business professionals. There is marketing and sales expertise, but also members with little knowledge of the context, and great knowledge of other important aspects such as organizational drivers and conversational/interactional understanding. I think the richness of the team, of the perspectives, and of the tools is one of the things is wonderful.

We spent a long afternoon exploring some of the data that has been captured and brainstorming the kinds of question we might answer. I am so intrigued by the possible answers surrounding the actual interaction, and having the data from both sides to shed light. I’m glad we are able to get latent variables, and not just to consider the obvious and the observable behaviors.

After digging deeper into the academic aspects of the project, I was really privileged to have a chance to meet the businesses that are investing in the work. Timo was gracious enough to arrange a seminar for the firms to come and participate. It was rewarding for me to see these fine minds in action. Everyone had great insight to share, and I personally found it interesting to confirm that the ideas seem to translate well despite cultural differences. These businesspeople especially impress me in their willingness to become involved in more academic work, and to really invest in new knowledge development. There are potential tools to be developed, competencies to be explored, new training to be developed. Again, my suspicions were confirmed that this project has all sorts of important contributions just waiting to be made.

Timo and I ended the week by summarizing and prioritizing. I am ready to come back to Helsinki and Haaga Helia in January and begin writing results. Since my return, I have already pulled literature on the rapport building and have begun development on a special session for the National Conference on Sales Management on rapport and relationship building in initial sales calls, which will include an opportunity to explore some of the tools that can be developed from this work to aid businesses with this part of the sales process. This is just the tip of the iceberg though!

So, to my new friends, and those of you who I have yet to meet, and to everyone that I want to get to know better, I say simply, Kiitos for the opportunities and for the future contributions we will make. I am humbled by the chance to work with all of you and to participate in the project. I look forward to seeing you in January!

Best,

Ellen    

Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: sales research, sales interaction, building rapport, building relationship, mania research team