The secret to success lies in sales
Patience, persistence, creativity and care are all part of a day's work for Hong Kong's professionals
When you walk into a shop, how do you decide whether or not you like the company?
It all depends on the sales staff, according to Daryl Lai, executive director of LifeZtore.
'Salespeople represent the company. People form an image of the company by interacting with the sales representatives,' he said.
LifeZtore is a lifestyle concept store that was started last year. Its chairman, Bankee Kwan Pak-ho, said: 'Everyone spends over half of their time at home, therefore home should be the focus of their investment.'
As a winner of the HKMA Outstanding Young Salesperson Award (OYSA), LifeZtore's senior customer service representative Jarvis Law, cannot agree more.
Sita Liu, customer service supervisor and winner of the Distinguished Salesperson Award (DSA), said many customers had become her friends. 'I enjoy helping my customers very much, especially when they get exactly what they want and leave the shop happy.'
Ms Liu's passion for furniture helps her keep customers happy. In fact, she was a furniture designer before becoming a salesperson. She said her interest in the field stemmed from the fact that her father was a carpenter who made wooden furniture.
Creativity is also an important feature of a successful salesperson, according to another OYSA winner, Yeung Wai-yip, who is a senior sales consultant at Pricerite in Soho.
'It is like my childhood favourite cartoon Doraemon. We help people to solve problems in magical ways.
'People are often willing to pay not only for companies' products, but also for the service and solutions the salespeople provide,' he said.
A good salesperson should be willing to serve their customers, even if it was hard work, said Leung Chi-shing, senior sales consultant of Pricerite. Mr Leung once carried two chairs from his store in Mongkok to a client's restaurant in Jordan on a hot, rainy summer's day. In the end the customer bought 40 chairs and sent him a thank-you letter.
According to Wong Fu-yau, the postmaster of Yuen Long Post Office who also won a DSA, work can sometimes be merged with daily life. Mr Wong recounted how he was having yam cha with his family one weekend when he got chatting with the restaurant manager about how the postal service could promote the restaurant through mass mail for a good price. The manager came to the post office the next day and bought their service.
Government departments like Hongkong Post, which have many branches serving people in a district, can also have intimate relationships with customers, as they often visit the same post office several times a week.
DSA winner Chan Chun-wai, postal officer of Wah Fu Post Office, recalled: 'An old woman had to send something very urgently to her daughter in New Zealand but she had no idea how to do it. We consoled her and helped her to pack her stuff in a box and even gave her a discount. She then burst into tears and said even her kids didn't treat her that well.
'After her daughter received the parcel she came to thank us. She still comes to visit, sometimes to send parcels and sometimes just to chat,' he said.
For companies such as UPS Parcel Delivery Services, which have to deal with corporate clients, relationships with customers are just as important but require a very different approach.
'We work as a consultant and a partner to the customers,' said Sandy Ho, major account manager of Business Development in UPS.
'We help them save most money not only by providing cheaper services, but sometimes more expensive but better services that help them save even more money in other ways.'
Robert Tang, key account executive of Janssen Pharmaceutica and DSA winner, sells drugs to private doctors. He said a win-win-win relationship could be achieved between their company, the doctors and the patients.
Thoughtfulness is an important quality for a salesperson, Mr Tang said.
'Our company sells medicine for fungal nail infections,' he said.
'I talked to companies and suggested we give their patients a free nail check. Many patients did not know they were infected. They were cured, the clinics had more patients, the patients visited more, plus we sold our products.'
Janssen Pharmaceutica product specialist Cheryl Ng, also a DSA winner, said medical sales representatives had no time to waste.
'They have to try to sell to as many doctors as possible so that more people can be helped. After all, time is life,' she said.