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Chasing after New Challenges in B2B Sales Education in Germany
Picture a young university student, who is getting close to graduating but has no clue what he wants to do and no particular direction in life. Maybe this sounds familiar to many of you. How did this particular student end up getting extremely inspired and motivated, winning a business to business (B2B) sales competition, getting a sales job with a lot of responsibility before graduating and enrolling as the first international student ever in a German Master’s programme, all within the span of two years?
Hard work alone is not enough; what is required is challenging oneself by stepping out of one’s comfort zone.
My name is Lassi and I live in Aalen, which is a small city near Stuttgart in Southwest Germany. This city is the home for a university that offers the Master’s programme in Leadership in Industrial Sales and Technology (IST), which focuses on B2B sales and leadership. Aalen University is renowned, among other things, for its technical B2B sales training, which is also the case in my former home university, Turku University of Applied Sciences (TUAS). This is one of the main reasons why I’m in Aalen.
These two universities – Aalen and TUAS – try to create synergy through combining their sales programmes.
The way they intend to do this is by sending Finnish sale engineers with a bachelor’s degree from TUAS to further qualify themselves in Aalen University, like in the case of yours truly. This provides motivated, international students for the IST programme at Aalen, as well as qualified Master’s graduates with excellent language skills in English and German for the Finnish job markets – or highly competent Finnish professionals for global German companies.
Lassi Seppälä at Global Sales Science Institute’s conference in Vienna, June 2018 (Photo: Sini Jokiniemi).
So how did I get here in Germany in the first place? In the beginning of the last year of my bachelor’s studies I took a leap.
I decided to do something that I had dreaded before – enrol on sales courses
Why was this so intimidating? Well, I always thought that sales was a very brutal career path, where you have to fight others to get paid and even manipulate or lie to customers in the process. However, I also knew it would be a useful skill to learn, so I decided to give it a chance. And boy, was I surprised. I quickly learned that sales is actually all about helping people and bringing something of value to them. In addition, it is an extremely important profession.
Without sales there will be no revenue in any company
I became inspired during these sales courses, which was also partly due to our brilliant principal lecturer Timo Holopainen at TUAS. He continuously encouraged us to challenge ourselves and step out of our comfort zones.
After taking part and winning the Turku Sales Competition, a B2B sales competition arranged at TUAS, I realized that really challenging oneself not only provides extremely good learning opportunities but also unravels amazing new possibilities. This materialized after the competition, as the Aalen University representatives had seen my performanc and inquired if I was interested in studying in Aalen. I had wanted to get more international experience and improve my language skills anyway, and the programme sounded like a perfect match for me.
I felt that this was the next challenge for me to overcome.
Once more I stepped out of my comfort zone, this time all the way to Germany. So far, it feels like coming here was the right choice for me. I have learned a lot, improved my language skills immensely and met amazing people. Outside of school I have learned to be more organized, which was necessary in order for me to manage the courses I had in English or German. My learning has also been greatly supported by my new-found interest in reading and especially listening to audiobooks, which I recommend to everyone as it is such an easy way to learn new things.
Currently, I am getting started with my Master’s thesis and looking for job opportunities in Germany and elsewhere in Europe. The feeling of not having any idea what the future holds may be daunting for someone – but all I can say is that I am eagerly looking forward to the next challenge to tackle and lacing up my boots for the next leap out of my comfort zone.
If you want to learn more about studying in Germany, share or receive book recommendations, or discuss B2B sales or other interesting topics, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn and come say hi. I’m always happy to talk and help in any way I can.
The article was originally published in Journal of Excellence in Sales 2/2018