Manuel Näther is Head of Business Development for Central Europe at the Cloud Communications division of NTT (formerly known as Arkadin). His philosophy is a simple one, but it’s what makes him so good at his job: “Companies should focus on their key competencies. But because everyone needs unified communications tools to work effectively today, my job is to offer them our rich portfolio and help them find tailor-made solutions.”
Based in Frankfurt, Manuel specialises not only in selling our solutions, but in deploying them and driving their adoption within organisations across Central Europe. His typical day begins with calls to prospects in all industries, with the goal of helping them in their digital transformation.
We asked Manuel to tell us more about himself and his career. Here are his responses.
Q. You say you help find “the right solutions for organisations.” What is your process?
I simply try to understand the customer and his needs. I ask the right questions and of course I listen! Nearly all organisations have similar issues. We’re helping so many different organisations to transform and become modern, flexible and agile. They’re all looking for the same things. The way they’re going to achieve them is different and we need to tailor our offering for each organisation individually. That means our offer needs to fit 100%, and in order to achieve that, we need to understand how they work and what challenges they’re facing.
Q. In your video, you say your job has changed from product selling to solution selling. How is this different?
When you sell a product, you find out what the needs of the business are and pitch the features of the product. To sell a solution, you need to understand the customer’s organisation, their environment, their challenges, etc. It’s a longer process and much more complex. A solution combines products, services, and add-ons. Solutions are complex and, as I already mentioned, solutions need to be tailored to fit the customer’s organisation.
Q. Speaking of selling, you’re very good at it: Target Achiever in 2016 and 2017 and Sales Presidents’ Club this year. What do you think it takes to be a great salesperson?
If you want someone to buy from you, you need the person to trust you. Listening to what they are saying and being a reliable person is essential. You have to be completely committed and engaged, even if things get difficult, even after the contract’s been signed.
Q. We saw this post on your LinkedIn page. Can you tell us more about it?
My team had a special training session at Cisco. We’re creating our solutions based on products from leading technology vendors Cisco and Microsoft. From time to time, we have dedicated training sessions to become familiar with the full range of capabilities of our partners’ products.
Q. We also noticed that you do lots of online courses. Are you a big believer in continuing education?
Yes, absolutely! It’s essential to continuously improve and learn. Everything is changing and evolving so fast that if you’re not improving yourself and increasing your knowledge, you’ll lose your competitive edge. I read lots of books and listen to eBooks. These online courses are fantastic and much more interactive than just reading or listening to a book.
Q. In your video, we saw you were near a pool and a golf course. Nice! Are you a golfer? A swimmer? What do you do to relax?
No, I’m not a golfer – yet. But I run quite regularly and try to run a marathon once a year. After a busy day, I really enjoy going out and running 10km and getting my head free. It helps me to re-think my day and round it off completely.
Q. One last question: What advice do you have for someone just starting out in business development, especially in the world of communications?
Communications is a fast-moving industry. My advice is to try to be on top of everything and never stop improving and learning. The beginning can be really tough, don’t expect to be successful right from the start. You need to have endurance and always stay focused! Don’t have too many things going on at once. Try to give each client the feeling he’s the most important one. Sales is not a career for lazy people. You need to do a lot, even cold calling or social selling! There are many salespeople out there, trying to sell their products and solutions, so try to be surprisingly different – and always friendly.