Annika quickly realised that her mentor was unique and that she was gaining experience no training course in the world could give her. “Lars said that it was time I got my hands dirty, so there was nothing for it but to get started in the warehouse,” she says. “I was asked to go out and sell as well, which wasn’t that easy for someone with no driving licence. But we sorted that out. I visited all our affiliates too, while also running a strategy project at group level. Then suddenly I was made responsible for Atlas Copco, one of our biggest customers. It was far more than I’d expected from my trainee period.”
One important lesson for Annika was how much small companies rely on all their employees – that everyone is equally important whatever their job title or education. Another was that it doesn’t matter if you don’t know everything, as long as you find the answer as quickly as possible and get back to the customer. Another lesson was that selling is all about relationships.
Lars said that it was time I got my hands dirty, so there was nothing for it but to get started in the warehouse.
But the most important piece of advice was that however tough a situation seems, there’s always a solution – even if it means changing and doing things differently. “I’ve watched you, Lars, and I know you never give up. You always get what needs doing done, one way or another, and that inspires me. I don’t care what it says on your business card, you’ll always be my mentor,” says Annika. Lars breaks into a smile.