My first mobile phone
I will always remember the very first mobile phone I purchased, this was back at the end of the 80’s and I was director of a company in a completely different industry.
Being director of the company meant of course that I had responsibility for the company and our customers, I travelled a fair amount in Denmark and Scandinavia and spent a good deal of time keeping my sales team busy and personally looking after our largest customers that included banks and insurance companies.
At that time, the only mobile phone available was the analogue NMT mobile system that was being offered in Denmark by the former monopoly Tele Danmark. GSM was on the drawing board as a project and on September 7th. 1987, the GSM vision was created when a whole group of operators from thirteen countries signed a MOU in Copenhagen. There were 15 signatures in total: France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, Ireland and, from the UK, two independent operators – Cellnet and Racal-Vodafone. Back then I knew absolutely nothing about GSM or the role I was to have in the future mobile market.
I was contacted by a salesman from the company that had chosen to enter the mobile market and had started selling mobile telephones. This company did not have any special reason to enter this market – in fact they made a living of renting and selling scaffolding for building sites! The company’s director had purchased a mobile telephone himself and thought it was really cool and therefore – with the way telephones were developing – thought it would be a good idea to start selling the good solid analogue Ericsson NMT phones.
The salesman who contacted me offered to visit my company, which I agreed to. Just a few days later we met and he told me about mobile phones, how they work and what possibilities I would have in my work, if my employees and customers could contact me directly regardless of where I was – he told me about the advantages of being mobile.
The salesman’s work was a good example of a classic sell, the sales process was project sales and he started by discovering my needs, asking me how many hours a day I was in my car, how many employees I had working for me, how many customers I was responsible for, the size of my average order – this was classical project sales, not just to discover my needs, but also to visualise the advantages I as a customer would have – if I acquired a mobile phone.
Today many of these issues seem trivial and we can only smile at the memory of a sale of one single mobile telephone and a subscription back then could justify the expense of a salesman taking the time to have a meeting at the customer’s company! The mobile telephone has changed a great deal since then and the way that phones were sold and distributed at that time.
Yes, a great deal has happened since the end of the 80’s. On the other hand, how does one sell mobile solutions to companies that want to mobilise their salesmen with hand-held terminal nowadays? A lot has happened, but selling is and will always be selling and even though all the products and technology develop, it does give food for thought that the sales and buying processes really do not change much – even with the latest products that we regard as being extremely advanced….