Anneli Janssen has worked in sales since 2001 and in her words, she never wanted to do anything else. She chose Strypes because it’s a young company that’s also established and has room for creative thinking.
“The most important thing in sales is to have empathy. Try to understand what kind of sales and deals your company needs. On the other hand, you have your customer and you have to have a deep understanding of what they need. And you have to try to match those together.”
Anneli shares that empathy is very difficult to master as a skill. To make sure that she understands the client’s needs, she takes inventory of their issue and then recaps the conversation.
“I’m a year and a half with Strypes now. It feels like a day on one end, and ten years on the other end. The biggest thing I learned at the company is to be adaptable. It’s a young company and so the processes change. You have to be very flexible and not let that get to you. I have worked for established companies that do everything in the same way for 10 years, that is why I like Strypes so much”
Not being able to meet with her clients in person is the main challenge Anneli is having at the moment. This is where being flexible and adaptable is essential and she is doing that by creating a new way of connecting through video prospecting, instead of cold calling. It’s still a work in progress and Anneli is working on the process and making sure it’s GDPR compliant.
Her main personal challenge at the moment is to make time for everything she wants to do like reading, journaling, spending time with friends and family, and making music. “I bought a guitar, a piano, and some courses on Udemy.”
Before her sales career, Anneli was a ballroom dance teacher for 5 years and also used to compete for many years. She describes dancing as her first and last love, she misses it every day but has moved on from this career path.
She describes dancing as extremely competitive, a sport where she had to train every day. “You have to train for sales too. You have to keep your knowledge up to date, inside the company but sales knowledge as well. You have to invest a lot in training. If you compete in a dance competition, you have to be there every day, keep your body in shape, diet. With sales, it’s a real commitment too. You’re not at home at 5 pm and you can forget about the standard thing, willing to do more than that. You have to have the urge to win.”
The urge to win is something Anneli has always had since her childhood. She describes it as something that you either have or you don’t.
What is the main lesson you’ve learned from your career so far?
The main one that keeps hitting me every day is to not make assumptions on situations and people. We all judge fast, you do it with customers as well but people can really surprise you. When I was younger, I made a lot of assumptions and my sales manager grabbed me and said that it’s forbidden in sales to make assumptions. It’s dangerous as well because you can disqualify an opportunity or a company. If you’re paying attention, you’ll be surprised how fast you’re doing it. And it’s still an everyday lesson for me. You just don’t know until you know for sure.
What are the other hard rules of sales?
Always be on time––that’s a hard rule of sales. It tells if you’re reliable or not. If you’re late for a meeting with a customer, it could mean you’re out. Do your homework before visiting a customer and research them, making sure that you can show that you care during the meeting. Don’t make them a number. The customer is special and they made time for you, you have to respect them by doing your homework. And of course, listen more than you talk. Most of the time in sales conversations with my customers I’m not saying anything for the first 45 minutes. I just ask questions, like in an interview. I only start talking until I feel I can add some value to the conversation.
What is your favourite book?
Of course, I like reading sales books. I also love to read the biographies of my business heroes, like Steve Jobs. But my favourite book is a sales book in Dutch called The Success is in You. It’s about how to influence people, it’s about human behaviour. This is the basis of my sales knowledge. There was a short story in it about a guy who worked for a transport company. Instead of calling the customer that his package was delayed, he went to the airport himself to pick it up and went to the customer to deliver it on time. That kind of examples inspire me, when people stretch their efforts further and do a little bit more to impress people.
What do you dream of at the moment?
I would like to have a family. I also dream to travel to New Zealand, alone or hopefully for my honeymoon. This has been my dream since I was 21 years old.
How many coffees do you drink per day?
In my first hour, I have three. In the afternoon, I have tea. After dinner, I have my last cup of coffee. It’s like 3-6 per day. I really like coffee.
If you could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who would that be?
My father. He passed away when I was 25, a great salesman as well. He was a car salesman, I think that’s where my sales interest came from.