Meet the team: Mikko Heinonen joins Midagon as Senior Managing Consultant
When I started as a summer worker in a large electronics manufacturing company to do order handling activities on the factory side, I never could have imagined that I would spend the following 20 years developing sales processes and tools in the company. I had just started my studies in Computer Science at the University of Helsinki, so all tool and IT related things were, of course, very interesting to me.
During my first summer working in the company, I very quickly drifted towards the development of a ground breaking excel tool to improve the efficiency of the sales staff. It was astonishing how just a few rows of excel macros can decrease the time spent on the activity by 90% and reduce errors by same amount. From this point onwards, I have always put quite a lot of focus on the efficiency of systems and tools.
Getting familiar with sales and product management
Later on, I tried the product management side and focused on product complexity points. R&D can make products very flexible which sometimes means that they get very complicated as well. Complicated products can be difficult to sell, so making a complex product simple (or at least simpler) was highly needed. Hiding all the complexities, like those related to production, product structure, intra company sales and so on, that were not relevant to the customer from a product sales perspective has been a very interesting journey that never seems to end.
I also got involved in the world of configuration, especially sales configurators. Understanding the inner depths of configurators and building a custom made configurator to improve efficiency for both users and those maintaining them was also an interesting journey. I have been deeply involved with configurators to this day, a period spanning almost 20 years.
Connecting the elements of the process
A little over 10 years ago, I moved to a sales development organization with an aim to improve the efficiency and integration of sales processes from the customer to the country sales unit and factory. It was incredible how much manual work, copy and pasting, and duplicate entry of the same data existed in the sales process. Improving one’s level of integration might not be easy over the years if there happens to be additional organizational and strategy changes.
Integrating sales processes from lead or opportunity all the way to the sales order and delivery stage can be tricky at times. Usually, sales require quite a lot of flexibility at the beginning of the process and only when the actual sales order is booked might there be accurate enough details for manufacturing (sometimes not even then). Building systems that support this kind of flexibility but are still precise enough without mistakes at the end has been an interesting learning process. The most challenging task in the fully integrated sales process seemed to be quotation management. During the quotation lifecycle, you have to determine the correct product, service or solution at least to a level that an order can be booked.
When working in a larger international company, you also get a front row seat to practices which get you familiar with all the different ways sales are done around the world. Working with over 50 countries in sales related topics allows you to see how local culture changes the way we interact with our customers, how we agree on different things and how much personal connections mean. Still, the underlying sales processes are very similar in every country.
Forward with continuous improvement
In recent years, most of my time outside working life seems to have been spent with family. A couple of children under 10 years old seem to have a talent for grabbing your attention and making themselves priority number one. My own recreation activities these days seem to be mainly sports activities like football, floorball, padel and so on. But in the back pocket, I have more relaxing hobbies in the form of scuba diving and golf just waiting to have time slots found for them. During the summer, many weekends easily go by just relaxing in our summer house.
I have been part of numerous sales related (and not so sales related) system and tool development projects. During the course of these projects, I have managed to get quite good at understanding what should and what should not be done for a successful project. Even though projects might sometimes be difficult, exceed target timelines and budgets, cause stress and so on, the final product still matters the most. Sometimes project target deadlines might take over from the actual target, which is a good quality product for the business. It is always the case that if the tool is not good enough, it will not be accepted, or ends up causing catastrophes for the business (like we can see on a nearly daily basis in the media these days). There are also situations where the project is given an impossible task to execute. Directions, conditions and other demands are in such contradiction that the project has already failed before it even got started. A realistic and transparent approach to dealing with all connected parties is vital in order to get to the finish line.
It has only been a few weeks since I started at Midagon, but it has already been amazing to be part of a team with such deep expertise and knowledge. I am looking forward to future projects in sales related topics and other functions. Challenges are the best award you can get because they keep work interesting and give you an opportunity to solve problems in a smart and efficient way. Seeing new ways to manage familiar processes and learning something new each day are the best drivers for me.
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