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Five tips on how to make it in the sales force

Gianluca Lombardi is a successful customer advisor at Helvetia – and that's no coincidence. He summarizes his experience and expertise in advising customers and selling insurance solutions in six snappy tips, which may interest existing customer advisors and those moving from a different career.

11 May 2021, text: Senada Kadic, photo: provided Gianluca Lombardi

Man in the florist's
Gianluca Lombardi is on the road a lot: here at florist Toscanini GmbH, for example – which is run by one of his customers.

Gianluca is a customer advisor by conviction. The motivation for his training and his current job results from a key experience in his childhood, when his father suffered from multiple disabilities and had to be cared for in a nursing home – until he died of cancer seven years ago. "The high costs and loss of income wouldn't have been financially sustainable for us without appropriate insurance. As a youngster I found it fascinating that there was insurance for this," says Gianluca, "so that we had no financial worries at this difficult time." Destiny, he says, had a great impact on him: "This experience is the reason why I pursue my job with so much passion. I'd like to give my customers the same protection that we had back then."

Gianluca has been working at Helvetia for almost eleven years. After his training he embarked on the Sales Excellence course – and 2016 marked his official début as a customer advisor in the Helvetia sales force. He also regularly trains apsiring customer advisors at Helvetia. Here are his tips after five years' professional experience as a very successful customer advisor:

1st tip: Motivation and diligence

You need a "why" – or rather a personal motivation for wanting to do this job. The way I see it, the motivation should always be "because you enjoy it." You can't advise customers if you don't enjoy it. Motivation can also come from criticism. At school I was often criticized by teachers for my very communicative attitude. I first accepted this criticism, then – instead of feeling bad about it – I used it as motivation. Constructive criticism spurs me on personally to work even better. Of course, diligence is also part of success. If you like doing something and want to be good at it, it's important to do it as often as possible.

2nd tip: Focus on realistic targets

I set myself realistic targets and try not to live totally in the present. I always have clearly defined personal and professional targets. I have a weekly target, a monthly target, an annual target – and also longer-term targets like a ten-year target. I visualize these regularly so as not to lose focus. Speaking of focus, one of my customers – a skeleton world champion – once told me: "Decathletes may be good at all ten sports disciplines , but they can't become individual world champions in any of them." This sentence had a great impact on me. If you want to make a difference in your job, whether it's in sales, customer service or anything else – you need a clear head and a focus on something specific.

3rd tip: Work-life balance

"There is strength in tranquillity" is a saying that I try to live by. A counterbalance to the job is indispensable for one's health and joie de vivre. In my private life I draw strength from my relationship, from spending time with family and friends, from nature, sports and good food. At the weekend I'm "off the air". For me, that means conscious relaxation time.

4th tip: Authenticity and empathy

I have an honest, sincere interest in my customers. I want to know how they feel, what they need, how they live. I care about their well-being. This authenticity creates trust, and that's what it's all about. If you're authentic and empathic, people can tell – and that's a very important skill. Everyone likes to feel understood. People who relate to others and empathize well with them can work out good solutions together.

5th tip: Working in a team

Insurance isn't something you can touch or see, so it's always important to create experiences for customers when advising them and explaining a proposal. In order to create these experiences I need a large number of people in the background who work in the same direction. Our office staff at the Baden General Agency deliver top performance every day, which I then have the opportunity to present or sell to customers in the form of proposals. Without great support from the team, I wouldn't be able to do the work I do. Teamwork is indispensable.

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