As winner of the prestigious Rand-Air Salesperson of the Year award, seasoned sales representative at the company’s Mpumalanga branch Chantal Bekker believes that one has to be willing to change the way one has ‘always’ approached and managed customer relationships and sales.
The past year was punctuated by fluctuating lockdown restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic in South Africa and worldwide. The sales team of Rand-Air – leader in the field of portable air, power, flow and lighting solutions, and part of the global Atlas Copco Specialty Rental division – had to quickly adapt and evolve their sales and communication strategy to meet the needs of customers remotely during this time.
“Using technology has definitely been part of the answer,” says Bekker, noting that despite being used to spending a lot of her time ‘on the road’, she quickly adapted her sales style and focused on establishing and maintaining contact with customers through Microsoft Teams, WhatsApp messages, email and phone calls.
In line with Rand-Air’s corporate ethos of making agility count for its customers, the sales team were also given access to some of the best technology tools available, among others.
“This allows us to have professional product information, calculation tools, references, application videos and case studies, readily available to share with customers in their industries,” Bekker points out.
She also credits the virtual business card application, which she believes is key to establishing successful contact.
“By sending out virtual business cards after conversations it meant customers had our information and could log into our website directly on their phones or email by clicking on the professionally designed business card,” she says.
Further adapting to the changing communication needs of customers, Rand-Air also sent out technology-based, customer- and industry-specific designed campaigns to target certain market segments and inform customers in those sectors about how Rand-Air’s technology solutions can address their industry-specific challenges, such as in the mining and power industries. These were very well received.
However, Bekker believes not only in using technology, but also adding the personal touch, such as phone calls. “People still need to hear each other’s voices and to feel connected,” she emphasises.
“It took hard work and determination to make changes in the way I used to do my job, and to ensure we still secured the business. However, I was very determined to make it work,” Bekker points out, adding that her consistent imperative is to be “pro-active, positive, energetic and to care for customers by taking their call day or night !”
She furthermore emphasises her dedication to her customers, noting that even if a call comes in after office hours, she provides accessibility and assistance with product specifications or quotations.
“I work because I care, because I want to be here – and because I am part of a great team – and every link in that team needs to be strong to ensure that we and our customers can not only survive but thrive.
As a sales representative, I need to feel good about myself, and I need to practice habits of courtesy, use positive communication, listen, question and perform professionally at all times,” she maintains, adding: “Very importantly, I also need to know my products’ technical specifications and believe in that product being the best possible solution for the customer.”
She highlights a key accomplishment for Rand-Air in 2020, which was the participation in business strategy and upliftment of B-BBEE Level 1 companies.
“We accomplished this in Mpumalanga in 2020. As these companies hired Rand-Air’s specialised product oil-free compressors and dryers, we have enabled them to increase their air volumes by 100 percent. We also guaranteed the provision of our Class Zero oil-free compressors,” Bekker says.
She further believes that her determination, organisational skills, discipline and – notably – her focused attention to customers gave her the competitive edge over the past year. “Every single customer is important, I listen carefully to their needs and ensure I do follow up calls,” she points out.
In addition, “a continuous hunt” for new business and new customers is critically important to Bekker, who says that asking customers for referrals boosts this endeavour.
Bekker, a multi-award winner at Rand-Air since 2002 – including achieving the highest annual revenue, service excellence, best internal and external sales awards during that time – is “humbled and honoured by the 2020 Salesperson of the Year award!”
She furthermore acknowledges the efforts from other representatives who also worked hard in 2020, while various departments – such as the service department, internal sales, credit control, and the management team – enabled and contributed to her achievement.
In a further reflection of the above team work, Bekker also assists fellow colleagues by sharing leads and project information she hears of in their relevant areas.
“Without everyone’s support I would not have been able to reach my goals – and I would not have won Salesperson of the Year. I would like to thank my colleagues and management very sincerely. Teamwork and the ability to adapt quickly to change is all part of our recipe for success at Rand-Air!” she concludes.