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54 SMT Magazine • December 2016 of the biggest challenges when it comes to doing sales, according to our survey. That is, unless peo- ple know the product, or know the customer that they're selling the product to, or the requirements of the customers, it will not work out. Krajnc: For us, product knowledge is the ulti- mate condition for successfully selling products. I mean, you can sell it, but successfully selling is a different thing, especially because we have a platform that can be applied to so many dif- ferent things. We need to understand what the capabilities of the product are and where that platform can be applied. You can't do this with- out really understanding how the product re- ally works on a low level, as well as what the reliability is for industry-specific applications. I would say everything starts there. Then having technical knowledge in terms of understanding and knowing the environ- ment, or the industry customers, is another part of it. We tend to sell our products in a way that we can help customers to solve their problems. In order to help someone solve something, you need to understand the problem that person has. Las Marias: What advice or strategy would you give a salesperson in this market? Krajnc: One is to know what customers to tar- get. You need to give a clear direction of where to go. Then also, let's say if engineers are sell- ing to our customers, they really need to bring value to the customers. Because if they don't bring value, why would the prospect be willing to meet with them? That needs to be pretty ev- ident. Also, they need to show where we differ from others and what benefits the prospect will be getting after buying our products or our plat- form, because that drives the sales. If customers don't see that, normally they don't sell. The other part is really fine-tuning and tai- loring solutions to meet customer expectations. The expectations might change during the pro- cess, because we all understand each other now. We do this by having and developing strong re- lationships with our customers. It's establishing a partnership. If you approach from that side, you get a lot of information that helps you tai- lor the offer to your customers and increase the success for both you and the customer. Las Marias: Do you have a sales training program for your salespeople? If so, why do you think it's im- portant, and do you think it's effective? Krajnc: We do have a sales training program because, in most cases, we hire engineers. I'm an engineer as well, and I didn't get that sales training at the university. National Instruments has a well-established and developed sales train- ing program that we provide for our sales team across the globe. Initially, before someone is as- signed to be a seller, they have to go through extensive technical training, which is a part of the application engineering process. We have so many products, so many technologies, that the only way to really understand the product is to teach customers how to use LabVIEW and to take part of some prototyping in respect to proof-of-concept. Building some setups to un- derstand what the real challenges are that our customers are facing when using our product. Once that knowledge is there, the best will be selected and we teach them about how to communicate, how to manage sales meetings, for example, and how to sell. Once someone graduates from that program, we continuously improve their proficiency in sales skills with ad- ditional trainings in new sales approaches and concepts, because in sales there is always a lot of innovation happening. How we sold products 15 years back might not be the best way right now, so we always have to evolve and we need SUCCESSFUL SALES STRATEGIES

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