Conducting customer meetings is an art in itself. “You have to act very intuitively,” Matthias Hoppe explains. “Every customer is different. You need empathy for the situation at hand and a good knowledge of human nature to be able to assess the situation, the mood the customer is in, and their needs.” Rather than putting pressure on customers with crude sales offers, create customer desire by giving them good advice – then they will buy on their own accord. “The feeling of success after a successful meeting,” says Hoppe, “is as fresh as it was on my first day.”
The 49-year-old has been manager of the sales branch in Berlin since 2014. He has 19 people working for him. He can identify strongly with the company: “In the capital, I’m Viessmann!” He was born in Halberstadt and graduated from high school the year the Berlin Wall fell, in 1989, at the same time as completing a certificate of apprenticeship as a plumber. Linking the school leaving certificate with vocational training was a particular feature of the GDR school system. He worked as a customer service assistant in the building materials trade and passed a state examination as a technician while working. He then managed the Dresden branch of a heating wholesaler for 17 years.
Like a family
There, a headhunter tracked him down and offered him a position with Viessmann. “Of course, I accepted right away. I was attracted to Viessmann for its reputation, its size, and the new challenge in general.” Hoppe regards the move as a stroke of luck. “I felt at home here from day one. It is extremely varied, and I was given all the help I needed. It’s like a family.” After all, his wife also works for a subsidiary of the Group.
I felt at home here from day one.
The digital change at Viessmann is inspiring Hoppe. “No stone is left unturned, everything is currently under review,” he explains. There is an optimistic mood in the air. “In the past, critically examining our product range was not a matter of course. Now, nothing is taken for granted.” End customers are now looked at closely. “Every product means customer contact. Our products and services must therefore inspire confidence for the long term, so that the customer will still buy from us in 20 years’ time.”
Heat as a service
Part of the new strategy of thinking more from the customer’s point of view is that Viessmann sells heat as a service. “Up to now, our systems have counted as added value,” explains Hoppe. In the future, instead of an appliance, customers will buy a certain amount of heat output supplied by Viessmann with a heating system. The hardware is still owned by the company, the customer only pays for the service used. In this way, Viessmann remains in constant contact with its customers.
Quality offensives in all areas of the company
“We are currently experiencing quality offensives in all areas of the company,” says Hoppe. “The important thing is that we get the employees on board and allay their fears of being made redundant.” The quality offensive also includes a motivation offensive – for example, ensuring that employees participate in the change through the ideas app Vi2Go. “Here they can submit innovative proposals online, which will be judged independently by supervisors. The app has really taken off.” Viessmann even gives out bonuses for particularly good ideas from employees.