I have worked as a Customer Relationship Manager in TAMK’s TREE Education Export office for three years. In my job, I am responsible for our projects to the African and Arabic countries, meaning that a large part of my job is tailoring services for the needs of different cultures and contexts. The needs and environments in let’s say Kenya and Egypt are completely different.
In my job, it is important that I am able to react quickly the inquiries of a potential customer and in some cases, this means being able to quickly say “yes” or “no” to a question. Because my team and management is so supporting and we feel trusted, it is possible to take calculated risks and thus open up new opportunities on the customer’s terms. The time for letting customers wait and wait on decisions from educational players has long passed. In today’s global business environment, it is simply not possible to survive as a rigid organization that has to go through many layers of management to responds to inquiries. As an example, I was presenting TAMKs programs and a client asked me if he could buy a complete Bachelor degree programme group. I had no experience on selling complete degree but could with great confidence; respond in a positive manner since I knew we would find a way to deliver this.
I have also learnt that my management is always willing to test out new ideas that my colleagues and me bring forward based on what we see in the customer field. As the latest example, we have now made a smooth proposal and contract process regarding the sales of complete degree programs. This gives TAMK a massive competitive advantage since I have often heard that Finnish educational institutes are almost impossible to convince into sending a proposal. This culture of listening, trust and responsibility makes TAMK into a truly entrepreneurial organization. When we feel safe to suggest even the strangest ideas, we can be truly flexible and offer solutions that win us deal.
Even though TAMK is a big organization, I work mostly in contact within our Global Team as an effective and agile unit. We have a culture of help where in urgent matters; I can contact a colleague or manager in the evenings, weekends and otherwise outside of “office hours.” Because I have many Arabic, clients that work on Sundays, it might be crucial to be able to get an answer for a difficult question on a Sunday. As salespeople, we must be able to adjust our timetables to ones that our clients prefer; this can only be done by working in an entrepreneurial way.
Text: Peter Perttula, Key Account Manager, Continuous education, TAMK
Picture: Minttu Rantanen