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Freedom to develop innovative ideas

INTERVIEW WITH CLAUS SCHRÖDINGER AND MICHAEL WEBER, TECHNICAL SALES MARKETING LAST UPDATED: 2012

Claus Schrödinger and Michael Weber joined Gira as sales engineers 16 and 17 years ago, respectively. As part of their activities with planners and architects, they have, over the years, become increasingly involved in the implementation of complex functions of Gira high-tech products in calls for tender. In the process, they developed a clear idea of how traditional tender documents can be significantly improved. The promoted this idea within the company and were able to convince management. So in this way they were able to create a new, innovative field of activity at Gira.

Topics in this article


Technical sales marketing


Innovation processes


Development of new tasks

The work of sales engineers covers a very wide range of tasks. This was clearly not versatile enough for them, so they invested both time and work to optimise Gira's tender documents. What gave you the idea?

CS: It came up inevitably and was market-driven. Sales engineers use tender documents as a key tool in their work, and we noticed that they didn't address as much as they should do. We have both been in sales for a long time. For 16 years in my case, and 17 years in the case of my colleague Michael Weber. We were both involved in-house in working groups for many years and this conclusion, and our current work as a consequence developed from this.

MW: We were sales engineers. We continued to evolve from there and created a new field of activity. To now work on this fully, set up additional technical sales aids and prepare them for the market, we switched from Sales to Technical Sales Marketing.

What is special about this idea? Why is it so important for Gira?

MW: It concerns the extension of the classic Gira tender documents. Up to now, they only relate to the individual device. However, many products are very complex, in particular the KNX devices. The interaction of the devices in the system often provides many very interesting functions. It's a bit like a lego kit. I have a lot of building blocks and if I put them together correctly, then I have saleable added value. Unfortunately, you cannot assume that the current tender documents are also able to describe this in this way. These texts only describe the device, i.e. that it is 20 cm long and 10 cm high, for example, that it has five inputs and three outputs. Nothing else is described. We are working on changing this. The new, functional tender documents also describe the applications that can be achieved with these, above and beyond the devices themselves.

CS: Let me provide an example: When I enter a building, then I place my thumb on the Gira Fingerprint and then, if required, the light comes on automatically in the building and also the desired music, and the blinds are raised. These scenarios are all part of this, and should be also described in the functional tender document. This was very different in the past. If you think back to ten, fifteen years ago – there was one light switch. You switched it on or off. There was no need to say much about it. Today, we can create scenarios. These options have to be described so that the customer is made aware of all the possibilities offered by the Gira products.


Claus Schrödinger and Michael Weber welcome challenges. Here, the two of them are having a try at a climbing wall and are proving to be a well-coordinated team.


So this idea that you have developed is so important because it increases Gira's competitiveness?

MW: Yes, exactly, because no-one else has done it like this.

CS: Traditional tender documents that only outline the products don't really help the end customer; what's more, the planner doesn't necessarily understand the correlations. But if I use clear language to describe the applications, the end customer will understand this. The architect, for example, also reacts to it in a very different way. So the functional tender documents provide concrete sales assistance.

When you developed the idea a year and a half ago, you first had to elaborate and clarify the concept. How did you manage to convince others with your idea?

CS: It took a while for us to find the right ways and means to make our concept clear. This was a challenge. We had to convince both engineers and economists in the company. We made a few attempts, but then it bore fruit.

MW: The System Integrators played a key role in this, as they have a clear idea of what they want – and this is to some extent precisely what we supplied. It was a good fit. There were many mosaic pieces which made up the complete picture, and then finally the decision for made in favour of our idea. The willingness to engage in dialogue on the part of management was always there and we sensed a big leap of faith. There is always an open door at Gira for anyone with a well-justified concern. But, as often is the case in life, you have to stick at it and drive the whole thing forward until you reach your goal.



Give it your all, then you will have success. If you want to achieve something, it's good to know that you are protected and can rely on the other person.


They have both been at the company for a long time. In your opinion, what is the biggest change at Gira compared with the early years?

CS: When we started, the company had a workforce of 700. There was quite a specific spirit in the company. This still exists. But, of course, now that the company has grown something has changed. Now there are over 1,200 employees. New processes have been introduced in the departments. It's already moving in the direction of large industrial companies. But you can still tell that this is a family company.

MW: That's a good thing. It's huge advantage that Gira is a family-run company.

What constitutes this typical spirit at Gira?

CS: It's a close identification with the company and the products. Then there is the flat hierarchy we have here. It's also important that the family that owns Gira is strongly represented at management level. These are all signals that in my opinion are very important.

MW: When you are out and about as a sales rep, then Gira is written all over your face, so to speak. When I say something to a customer, it is always seen in this context. This is always apparent. And exactly at that point it's a great help if you know which basic values you can rely on.

You practically developed your new field of activity yourself.

CS: We both knew that we could develop a situation like this at Gira because the company is open to suggestions and ideas from its employees. And if the suggestions turn out to be reasonable and feasible, then you can also go down that path. In a large corporation, it is unlikely that you can achieve developments of this kind, as we are well aware. That's why Gira is so close to our heart. Taking a new direction and implementing ideas is fascinating.

PROFILE OF CLAUS SCHRÖDINGER


Born
1970

At Gira since
1997

Training
He completed his training as a power electronics technician and advanced training as a state certified engineer, specialising in energy technology.

Career at Gira
He worked at Gira for many years as a field service sales engineer. Together with his colleague Michael Weber, he changed to Technical Sales Marketing.

PROFILE OF MICHAEL WEBER


Born
1967

At Gira since
1996

Studies
He studied at the University of Applied Sciences in Mannheim and obtained his diploma there in electrical engineering, specialising in automation technology.

Career at Gira
He began his career at Gira as a sales engineer in field service. It was only recently that Weber, together with his colleague Claus Schrödinger changed to Technical Sales Marketing to implement new ideas.

[Last updated: 2012]


Further information