Monday, 6 February 2012

Selling Around the World - Spotlight on Germany where Business is " Rock 'n Roll"

Spotlight on Germany

 In this series of posts ( FOSWH) interviews sales trainers and businesspeople across the world. Their ‘on-the-spot’ experience and insight into selling in the countries they work in , is interesting and authoritative.

This post focuses on the state of Selling in Germany.

Udo Keller is a TACK colleague and experienced trainer (and biker) with whom I worked on a joint international conference in Spain  with a leading pharmaceutical company a few weeks ago.

Since my spoken German is limited to tourist survival German, buying 'laugenbrotchen' in Lubeck and singing choral and opera choruses by Wagner, Brahms , Mozart ,Mahler ,Beethoven  etc. Udo kindly conducted our interview in English !!!

Our Interview

FOSWH:            Germany has a worldwide reputation for nurturing young talent through a rigorous apprenticeship system in areas such as engineering but how is Professional Selling regarded in Germany?

Udo:                   Professional selling of products or services, like anywhere else in the world where free market economy is possible, is the key to the market. Germany is no exception. We have excellent professionals in research and development. We also have an excellent apprenticeship system. From a purely technical view Germany is already one of the leading nations, but in sales I see a strong development potential, which should be exploited. In technical apprenticeship professions this issue, if ever, is being discussed only in passing. Technicians still have the problem to argue customer-oriented and benefit-oriented. But even here you can notice a change.

FOSWH:             What do you see as the top three challenges for salespeople in Germany throughout the rest of 2012?

Udo:                    The challenges are to be able to turn out well the USP and the corporate culture, not only to sell goods or services, but also to win and keep target groups, and

...  a lived CRM including the professional and elegant use of social media.

FOSWH :            To what extant have Linked In, You tube, Twitter and Blogs ( Social media) been taken up by the B2B market in Germany? ( Please quote any application pertinent to Germany)

Udo:                     Linked In isn´t used as strong in Germany, except by persons and companies who are also more active internationally. The largest business social media platform in Germany is XING Twitter and Facebook follow. And of course there are many bloggers. In my opinion there's much more possible - especially for small and medium-sized companies.

FOSWH:             What if any are the current effects of the Euro to Sales within Germany?

Udo:                    This is almost a political question. Germany is export champion. But one reason for this is, unfortunately, that this is partly based on the costs of other countries which lack in turn their own export surpluses. If the Euro rises, the export is at risk. If it falls, revenues are missing.

These effects are felt by the distribution directly. I personally advocate for a strong Euro and a strong Euro-zone, which is reliable, fair and capable of action. Three terms that form the basis of sales.

FOSWH:              As a Sales Trainer within Germany what training methods go down particularly well in Germany?

Udo:                    Workshops work best. Here, participants can help shape and develop actively. And they do want it. Coaching sessions respond to special situations and they get more and more attention. Mere presentations or speeches are completely out. Interaction is absolutely essential.

FOSWH:             In your view over the last ten years what has been happening with regard to field coaching by Sales Managers in Germany?

Udo:                    Definitely more! Customers aren´t only interested any more in goods or services. They want to know who is behind it and with whom they are dealing with. The personality of a company plays a much larger role than it did 10 years ago. The same applies also for the sales manager. We focus our activities exactly on that.

FOSWH:             Over the last 10 years what changes in business dress and appearance have you noticed in Germany?

Udo:                        I n some areas it has become more casual. I think, the Germans are better than their reputation. They aren´t the stiff technocrats, but very modern and cosmopolitan. You are interested in intercultural and very focused in business.

 Nevertheless the dress code plays an important role. If we face our business partners in a suit, so we see this as a kind of reverence. We love good quality and show that, too. But today I can also ride with my motor-bike to trainings. 10 years ago that would have been almost unthinkable.

Business is Rock'n Roll!

FOSWH:                What is your favourite sales tip you like to share with delegates?

Udo:                       Lateral thinking. personality and authenticity.

Udo can be contacted through 


  1. Thank you for this good interview idea, Hugh!

    You´re very active in blogging topics of interest, really. I wish you succes. Oh sorry, you are the inventor of the fruits of success! :-)

    C U - somewhere, sometime, somehow...

    Best wishes from the sunny and spring-like Northern Germany!

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