Atria’s ambition is to be the best partner for our customers. Once we have achieved this, Atria will be number one in its product groups and will also retain its position. This is a continuous effort in which competitors will always keep on challenging the best.
Atria’s strategy — Leading food company in Northern Europe — sets a demanding goal which drives Atria’s sales. While sales were, of course, also developed during the previous strategy period, the current strategy raises overall customer experience to the core of the strategy.
“The most important job of sales is to bring in money. When we moved on from the goal of commercial excellence to the management of customer experience, the demands on sales also rose to a new level,” says Jarmo Lindholm, EVP, Atria Sweden, and the sponsor of the Sales Excellence initiative.
The management of customer experience is a process in which the foundation is the same in all of Atria’s operating countries. The nuances are the result of differences in the sizes of the operating countries’ organisations and in their customer accounts.
Teemu Pitkänen leads the Sales Excellence initiative.
“Every point of contact between the customer and Atria has an impact on the customer experience. Sales as a job has changed, as has the role of a sales rep. Sales reps must be the experts on their own customers, and they must be able to steer Atria’s organisation so that we can operate in a way that allows us to account for a customer’s wishes and develop our shared business,” says Teemu Pitkänen, VP, Sales Development, and the leader of the Sales Excellence initiative.
A good customer experience is a strategy enabler
Customer experience refers to a customer’s comprehensive experience, both at the level of activity and impressions. It describes the entire chain’s success in meeting the customer’s expectations. Customer experience is a material part of strategic leadership—a strategy enabler.
Jarmo Lindholm sees customer experience as an important strategy enabler.
“Our customers experience us differently in different countries. So far, we haven’t described in very much detail how the sales process in different countries works. Now we intend to do so,” says Lindholm, adding that customer experience includes knowledge management and the internal sharing of knowledge. Training does indeed play an important role in raising the standard of sales skills.
Towards a common Atria Way of Sales
Sales Excellence 2.0 is Atria Group’s common training programme for the further competence development of key sales personnel. The training programme supports the formation of a common Atria Way of Sales. Sales Excellence 2.0 is a follow-up to the first part of the training, carried out in 2018. While the first part of Sales Excellence focused on retail and Foodservice customers, version 2.0 also includes exports, e-commerce and measuring.
Sales Excellence is about segmenting and prioritising based on a customer’s size and value, and ensuring that resources are used correctly.
"Sales Excellence is like a common language for account managers."
“Sales Excellence allows us to challenge each other and find new ways of working. By developing customer plans and sufficient measures, we create measures with which to engage in more profitable business operations. Sales Excellence is like a common language for account managers. If an account manager leaves Atria or moves from one account to another, for example, we have an up-to-date customer plan which the successor can implement according to the plan,” says Wiveca Andreasson, Operational & Sales Manager of Atria Sweden’s Foodservice organisation, describing the programme’s benefits in concrete terms.
Wiveca Andreasson has seen the benefits of Sales Excellence initiative in her work.
“As an account manager, you may easily think that you should solve all situations yourself. Sales Excellence has now introduced a model for this which you can follow. For example, ensuring that we have the right people at meetings with customers, so that we can demonstrate that Atria is a credible supplier partner.”
Atria aims to be the most preferred partner in its product groups.
How do we ultimately measure whether we have managed to be the best partner for our customers?
“Partnerships with customers are the most important measure of this. We have to be pretty good to even be able to offer partnerships or for major operators to even consider us as partners. I think the Atria Way of Sales has developed a great deal in recent years. The sales work has become more systematic,” says Pitkänen.
Within Atria Group, Atria Finland has been measuring its NPS (net promoted sales) score for the longest time. Atria Finland’s NPS score in the retail and Foodservice channels has been steadily above 80, which is already excellent. Customers are willing to recommend Atria.
“We cannot have any other goal than to be number one in all areas. It requires us to continue the same good work. My boss says that the best train the most, and that’s indeed the truth,” adds Pitkänen.
What is Sales Excellence?
- Sales Excellence 2.0 was implemented from start to finish by Atria’s professionals.
- Sales Excellence is a tool customised for Atria Group. It’s used in all our operating countries and business units for customer account management.
- Training is offered to all key account managers and sales personnel.
- Sales teams are trained by ten local in-house trainers in all business areas.