When you step in through the front doors of the connector factory of Ouneva, you are often greeted by relaxed chatting coming from one of the offices. Usually, the source of the sound is Esa, who works as an Account Manager at Ouneva. Esa has had a great time working with us for 17 years already. He has probably the most colourful story of the Group about how he came to work with us, and we discussed that with him for a good while!
The year was 2004, when Esa met and old acquaintance in a hospital, after a snowmobile accident. The riding day didn’t go exactly as planned; the snowmobile went literally to the trees. While Esa was laying in the hospital bed, he heard a familiar voice. Someone was doing proper business in the bed next to his! The familiar voice belonged to the president of the Group, Mikko, who Esa had known from the 80’s. They both had driven their snowmobiles to a tree, and that’s how the story started. About a year after the accident, Ouneva was looking for a sales engineer and Esa took the opportunity! Esa advised Mikko to think it through if the job could be done with only one functioning arm, to which Mikko answered that no arms were needed, as long as the head works fine! And so, Esa started to work as a sales engineer, and the journey of change began.
Esa had substantial experience from sales, that helped him to start the new job, but all of the products were new to him. The excitement to learn new things, and Esa’s low threshold for asking for advice turned the work into a great learning opportunity. The training was executed by the founder of Ouneva, Heikki, and as Esa told us “We were looking at AMKA-connectors up there in the top of an electrical pole, and I was told that with those we have to make money”. And even though Esa felt like he didn’t know anything at times, he was already getting lots of positive feedback about his technical expertise.
As Ouneva Group grew larger, so did the array of products. Esa has been involved in the sales of sheet metal products, die-casted products, and plastic products in addition to his main responsibility of electrical connectors. The ability to adapt quickly is one of the most important abilities of a good salesperson, according to Esa. He praises the atmosphere and communal spirit at work. We have always adapted to situations and challenges have been overcome together. For example, during the recession in 2008, the turnover declined rapidly, but the reaction was swift. The management was awake, and a long-term solution was being looked for immediately. Esa has also been influencing company matters with developing solutions within the sales department. Based on the in-house quality system, a process description was developed from design to post-purchase marketing and Esa was strongly involved in the development process. Esa has also been constantly involved in developing systems for tracking sales. Those systems are still in place today, and they are always improved in collaboration with our customers. For Esa, it is a matter of the heart to know where we are and where we are going next.
Esa misses being on the road, where he feels at home and at his best. He says that when you throw your bag in a car and hit the road to go visit customers, you get to know their needs in a completely different way than on Teams meetings. Esa’s advice with being on the road and meeting customers is to sell your personal brand first, then comes the company and after that the products can be discussed. This is how long and productive customer relationships are built.
To finish off our conversation, we asked Esa for greetings that he would send to people dreaming about working in sales, or to people who just started. Esa highlights that you can always start off with digital tools and means, but the most important thing is to get to know your buyer carefully! Quoting his words, “Go play golf together of see a hockey match, spend time together. Get familiar with the manufacturer’s production, facilities and people. And always listen carefully, the sales will come on the side”.