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Story | 10/10/2022 08:18:18 | 3 min Read time

Decades of experience have shown Ilpo Yrjölä the meaning of good customer relationships

Ilpo Yrjölä is retiring soon from his role as Sales Manager at UPM Timber. During his long career, especially the pace of working has become faster. According to Ilpo, the pillars of sales have still remained the same: mutual trust and long-term thinking.

Ilpo Yrjölä will retire from the role of UPM Timber's Sales Manager of the Finnish market in the beginning of November. He has worked at UPM since 1986, which means 36 years. The title has varied from Sales Manager to Marketing Manager, but Ilpo has always been ​​responsible for specifically Finnish customers.

How has sales work changed over the decades?

"The biggest change is definitely the fact that communication has become much more rapid. The work has become more demanding in the sense that in today's sales work you have to be available at all times," says Ilpo.

From a Sales Manager, the modern operating environment requires the ability to react fast and make quick but good decisions.

"The customers may for example send the same offer request to several companies, so they will not wait long for an answer. That’s why you have to be ready to make a decision at all times."

Reliability and honesty, everything starts with these two things. Customer relationships must be nurtured and built with long term thinking.

Everything starts with trust

Despite the changes, Ilpo thinks the pillars of what makes a good salesperson have still remained the same as when he was only starting his career.

"Reliability and honesty, everything starts with these two things. Customer relationships must be nurtured and built with long term thinking, instead of chasing quick profits at the expense of customer relationships," he says.

When mutual trust is formed with a customer, it is very rewarding.

"I've realized it especially now that I'm leaving. When I’ve been visiting customers to say goodbye to them, I've only now realized just how great and mutually valuable the co-operation has been", Ilpo says.

For him, good long-term customer relationships have been one of the most motivating things in his job as a Sales Manager. One of the oldest customer relationships is with E.T.Listat Oy, with whom UPM Timber has been a partner for over 30 years.

"Joint successes with customers have been very energizing during my career. Situations where I have been able to help customers make good choices due to my long sales experience have also been very motivating."

Ilpo Yrjölä receives his 10-year cake server in 1996 for working at UPM for 10 years, from Matti Ketola who was the Korkeakoski Mill Director at the time.

Ilpo at the Korkeakoski sawmill ice fishing contest, in the 1990's.

It is good to build on a strong foundation

The employee community at UPM Timber and especially the great team spirit in the sales team have been meaningful for Ilpo.

"Our sales team has made my work enjoyable, and I will miss my colleagues and the customers now that I am retiring. In this job, no day has been the same as the previous, and the constant variation has kept things exciting.”

Ilpo plans to spend his retirement days fishing and hunting, among other things. His two small grandchildren will surely keep him busy as well, even if customer visits and timber sales will no longer do so.

What greetings does he have for his colleagues at UPM Timber?

"We have a strong foundation: a solid market position and the trust of customers. Let's stick to what has been built so far and take the good work forward in the future."

 

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