A happy coincidence, as Anja Hagemann will later discover, gave her the opportunity to get to know the commercial side of a branch.
A woman in a male domain
Sales Manager in the “Premium Class”
This article was originally published in the Daimler blog.
Anja Hagemann discovered her love for sales early on: An internship at Mercedes-Benz Hannover during her studies in business administration opened her eyes. Her career in the commercial vehicles industry and her career as a truck sales manager began in the year 2006. Actually hired as a junior Vans salesperson, she unexpectedly landed in Vans Materials Planning.
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The way to truck sales
There she learned a lot more: Understanding relationships across different branches from the ground up, observing from different perspectives and working hard to establish her own position and recognition. After a year and a half in disposition, she was able to start training as a junior Vans salesperson – almost, as later turned out: The supervisors first sent her to the workshop as a blue-collar worker for three months.
For Anja Hagemann this was an opportunity for further development. For instance, she acquired the basics of her technical know-how and the feel for the vehicles during this time. Also the background knowledge about the work in service and then the realization, how important those topics are for the sales, come from back then.
Once she had completed her training, she passed through other stations in the company-owned sales and service outlet in Berlin. After that, Hagemann spent four years in her former sales and service outlet in Langenhagen as a Vans store salesperson.
”I have always set myself the goal of learning the job from scratch. Therefore, starting directly as a manager without the knowledge in sales would have been rather incomplete for me.”
Then it was time for the next step. Hagemann became “Assistant of the Commercial Vehicles Sales Management,” or rather: Woman for everything. In this position she coordinated four departments, two joint projects as well as the normal daily business of the truck sales staff. At the same time, she also completed various trainings and courses. This meant 12-14 hours of work – every day. Today, Hagemann herself says: “That was a bit much.”
After that, she took the step into the unknown. She moved from Langenhagen to the beautiful state of Swabia in southern Germany and took on the job of “Truck Sales Manager.”
A woman in a male domain
Today, Hagemann describes her start as a “Sales Manager” in her new home state as exciting – after all, her customers had to get used to a woman in sales for the first time. With her dependability, ability to listen and always being there to lend a hand, Hagemann gradually built up her reputation among customers. Of course this was not so easy for her as a woman:
”You have to be tough in this business. Because, let’s be honest: With a woman in the boss’s chair, skeptical glances are inevitable. However, if you acquire the necessary know-how, are a respectful team player and let words follow with actions, then you also convince.”
Anja Hagemann has made the leap into the management level. But sitting back and relaxing is something she doesn’t even consider for herself. Her team currently consists of 14 employees. Her sales territory extends from Balingen down to Überlingen and to Leutkirch. Because she cares about being close to her employees and customers, she spends quite some time on the road. She can rarely make phone calls since her route takes her across the Swabian Alb, where mobile phone reception can definitely be described as a total disaster. She likes to use this time to think about her day, her employees, her customers and about herself.
Anja Hagemann is convinced: The most important characteristic of a manager should be the ability to honest and critical self-reflection. She describes her leadership style as operative and cooperative. The most important thing for her is collaboration at eye level. She believes that women in leadership positions have an advantage, primarily in their dealings with employees.
For her, women often show a pronounced sensitivity, for example, when it comes to noticing and interpreting facial expressions or moods of others. Her work style is characterized by trust and individual discussions with employees. She focuses on clear communication and tries to convey to her employees as precisely as possible what she expects from them as a manager. You can clearly feel that the team spirit is something she really lives for.
”We all function like a chain. In other words, if service does not work, we don’t sell any more trucks, and if the technology does not work or the parts can’t be delivered, we don’t sell any trucks. To think only in one’s own area, without a broad view of other topics, doesn’t work in our industry.”
Working in a team means proximity. In truck sales, this proximity is something essential. In addition, trust plays a big role in sales because the investment sum for a truck is not exactly small. Thus, her biggest sense of achievement is, if she and her team manage to keep a customer or win a new customer, despite problems that are not always quick and easy to solve – especially when the competitor has almost set foot in the door. In her eyes, being able to convince the customer of our product through a combination of better service, reliability and consistency is a true sense of achievement. The numbers speak for themselves: Her team sells about 160 vehicles per year in each of the two sales groups.
When asked how she will go on professionally, Anja Hagemann smiles. She is unable to answer that precisely at the moment, which is rather atypical for her, she says. At the moment she is focusing on her great team and on the work in the Riess car dealership, which she enjoys a lot. If anyone had told her during her studies that in 13 years she would be a truck sales manager at Daimler Trucks, she would probably have laughed out loud.
Anja Hagemann has never completely abandoned her childhood dream of life as a background dancer. She finds her balance to work in sports, preferably dancing or jogging and, best of all, in connection with her passion for music. The foundation for her success in a “men’s industry” was probably laid in her childhood, where she grew up with two big brothers.