Thomas Brünner

Porträt Thomas Brünner

Account Manager

at Solutiance Services GmbH in Potsdam

 

Where do you work and what products do you sell?

I work at Solutiance Services GmbH in Potsdam, a provider of software-based services for building management. Among other things, we offer our customers complete documentation of maintenance and inspections of their properties.

 

What did you study? / What training did you do?

I have a master’s degree in history, politics and sociology.

 

How did you get into your job?

If you just look at my résumé, you might think that I am completely “technology-free”. I am a historian with heart and soul, but also a real “gearhead”. For as long as I can remember, I've been passionate about tools, motorcycles and technology in general. After my studies, I first worked as a historian in museums and that came with a lot of joy and commitment. However, I found the working conditions increasingly demotivating and therefore looked around in other professional fields. Through contacts from my stay abroad during my studies, I finally got a job in sales at a manufacturer of forged parts for the oil and gas industry in Romania. At that time the company wanted to open up the German market and I was spot on. In terms of content, for me as a humanities scholar, that wasn't as far away as you might think. I spoke 4 languages ​​there almost every day - good communication skills and the ability to quickly think about new topics were incredibly important in day-to-day business. So exactly what I did so often all the time during my studies. I learned the rest quickly. I came to sales via this detour to Romania. Back in Germany, I found the job in which I am now also active.

 

What were the last three things you did at work?

1. I had a customer appointment.

2. I was at our weekly sales meeting.

3. I have sent the customer from my earlier appointment an email to follow up on the conversation

 

Have you ever felt like a "drummer"? How do your sales pitches usually go?

Nope!

You can't compare the B2B area with B2C at all. I don't speak to people who spend their own money, but to professionals who know exactly what they want and who also have a need for our product. It's not the same as telling an unsuspecting pensioner about a financial product on the phone that he actually doesn't need. Of course, it also happens that you have a bad day, that you are rejected and that you are offended - you have to find a professional way of dealing with that. But that also happens very rarely.

 

How much time do you estimate to spend at your desk / in the car / with your customers per week?

I drive by car as little as possible. The time on the road (with the customer or on the train / in the car) and at the desk is roughly balanced.

 

Do you think that your humanities educational background is of advantage to you in everyday working life?

Absolutely! In the museum I learned to speak in front of a lot of people, to have open dialogues and to present topics to different target groups in a clear and understandable way. A comprehensive education is also very helpful in many situations in order to find a connection point with as many people as possible. It is also very important to quickly familiarize yourself with new topics, to be able to think conceptually and also to be able to classify and evaluate concepts. And of course, language skills, of course. I have always taken so many of these skills for granted and it seems to me that we humanities scholars in general are far too little proud of them. Now, after a few years on the job, I first realized how many people don't easily bring all these skills with them. Especially when it comes to foreign language skills, many people have such a distance and simply do not master it at the level that you need if you want to sell a product in this language.

 

In your opinion, what qualities does a sales professional need?

Of course, that always depends on the product - there are sales in a wide variety of areas. For products that require explanation, such as the ones we offer, communication skills are naturally at the top of the list. In general, I think it is important to be an open person who has no problems approaching people. Someone who is serious and not a loudmouth. When I think about it, I can very well imagine a “type of teacher” in sales. You have to be able to explain well and at the same time work in a planned and number-driven manner.

 

What is the ultimate sales tactic?

This is exactly the point at which it becomes dubious. Of course, there are also certain tools in sales. But as soon as manipulative tactics are consulted, it also becomes implausible. With a good product, you don't need metaphysical talk or tactics. Much more important is: Who am I addressing? How do I address them? And how do I get to the customers? If I get them on the phone, how do I get their interest? You need a good instinct for this. I have to find out who is more comfortable with closeness and who needs more distance. People are very different and depending on the situation I communicate in different ways.

In general, as a humanities scholar, I feel very well positioned because I have learned to accept complexity and not fall for 10-point plans.

 

What do you find really great about your job?

The communicative and product development. Everything is in flux and I can also participate in the further development of our products.

 

What challenges you about your job?

I sometimes lack application-related business administration skills. You have to be able to systematize situations and express them in numbers. Knowledge of Excel, understanding, interpreting and interpreting numbers - it is important to be able to do that. You also have to think economically and consider how much time you want to invest for which customer.