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Coping with the New Normal - Covid-19 and after

Creating a new brand: the Polish sales professional

By Elżbieta Pełka
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Reversing damaging stereotypes, changing attitudes towards a social group, implementing industry standards, regulating a broad spectrum of economic behaviour.

With a strong brand, anything is possible.

The strongest brands are those that answer a strong natural need, or else perfectly create a new need. Global star brands, such as iPhone or Google, conceal tools and functionalities designed to realise civilization's need for contact with technology in a way that’s pleasing and tasteful, as well as being intuitive. Consumers’ needs may be different; they may involve wearing a specific pair of trainers, or driving a car with a specific logo on the grille. Our needs may also relate to intangible things such as promoting certain values. Implementing such objectives is the responsibility of institutions, NGOs, and businesses are tending in this direction too.

Drawing on our experience from advertising, we decided that the most effective mechanism of change is to create a strong brand.

This is how the Polish National Sales Awards competition was born 12 years ago. Its task has always been to select and present to the business community – and to the general public – outstanding sales people, masters in what they do, effective and ethical sales professionals. These are people who have become ambassadors for an entire, cross-industry professional group. PNSA – the first and only such institution in Poland to celebrate sales as a profession – also promotes and implements modern standards of sales and customer service, based on the principle of identifying and sharing best practice.

The Polish National Sales Awards were created in 2008 by a team of Polish and British experts, managers, and sales practitioners with many years of experience on both markets. With the support of PwC, PNSA created a methodological process to ensure a competition that reflects the realities of the Polish market and a set of award categories that cover the key sales areas across sectors.  A.T. Kearney has been supporting us in this area for the past four years.

Changing attitudes take up most of the time and strategic work. PNSA promotes the ethos of the sales profession, it champions the highest sales standards, and facilitates the exchange of experience across the sector. This is something that had not been hitherto achieved in the context of this professional group. The pragmatic objectives of the competition have become important for managers due to the here-and-now specifics of business; it motivates employees to achieve the best possible results and helps companies to increase sales by motivating teams to work more efficiently and raising competence to the highest level.

Of course, like any brand, designed to achieve big goals, PNSA refers to different aspects and operates on many levels of meaning. Besides working for a professional group, there are also meta-objectives, acting for the common good by influencing the development of companies, the economy and society as a whole. The prizes awarded in the PNSA competition are a way of appreciating employees in a non-financial way, through recognition that situates them within a wider business environment and allows for internal appreciation, which also motivates other employees to achieve success. PNSA is not only just an annual competition and gala awards dinner. Its long-term actions consisting in promoting best sales practices, helping to create sales standards on the Polish market, motivating sales employees and, above all, broadly promoting ethical actions in business.

The Polish National Sales Awards introduced a new Polish brand on the Polish market in the B2B sector in a difficult period in which the global economy found itself, at a time of a so-called psychosis of crisis. It was established in 2008, just as the developed economies were sliding into the Great Recession.

The most important dimension of the awards is the sales dimension; taking the brand concept and selling it to the most important target group – sales departments, sales people, heads of sales – and all the people who slowly started to become promoters of the PNSA idea, people who today we can call Brand Ambassadors. We can say that the PNSA project itself has passed the most important sales test – the test of time.

We have created a brand that learns and adapts to the rapidly changing challenges of today. We do not operate in a vacuum, but in a specific social, economic, cultural and economic reality.
Just like 2008, this year is for PNSA a test of the brand's strength and its ability to adapt to the new reality. We are not hiding – yes, the coronavirus pandemic has delayed the start of the 12th edition, but we didn’t cancel it. Most of our activities were transferred online. We cannot give up just because 2020 is an uncertain time for us, and for our partners and participants. Crisis situations highlight the fact that good practices and the ethos of the sales professional are real values, not just empty phrases. That's why the PNSA couldn't be missed now, when the demand for the needs that this brand meets are growing.

In the 12th edition, in addition to changes in the functioning of the PNSA enforced by pandemics, we decided to make changes in the categories. As a national sales award, we are observing the changes on the market and our brand is evolving according to the evolutionary vector of all sales. The trends clearly indicate the dynamic development and growing importance of customer experience areas, and the growing impact of IT and e-commerce on the sales ecosystem in Poland and worldwide. Often, we appreciate sales teams, forgetting about the teams behind them, which make up the complex customer experience and success of the company. Therefore, responding to market demand and the voices of our partners, starting from this year's edition we are introducing six new categories, including Customer Experience and the use of new technologies in the area of sales and customer service.

Achieving social goals – the starting point of this article – would not be possible without cooperation with the media, as well as a community of salespeople, built up consistently over the years through various workshops, lectures, debates, knowledge exchange. Creating a new image of sales professionals and reaching out with it into the broad social consciousness has been since the outset an important and goal of the PNSA.

Over the past 12 years, the awards have managed to build a vast amount of social capital in Poland, thanks to the involvement of various social groups in the project. We will carry on.

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