FoodGrads Podcast Ep 33: From a science lab to food processing equipment sales with Somayeh Salemi, Business Development Specialist at Klever Equipped Inc.
On episode 33 of the FoodGrads podcast Veronica interviewed Somayeh Salemi, Business Development Specialist at Klever Equipped Inc. Klever Equipped Inc is a distributor of cutting edge equipment who specialize in. Product security, sales, and services as smokehouses, fermenting, chilling, drying, and clean room equipment.
In this episode, Somayeh talks about her role as a business development specialist and the story of how she transitioned from science to sales, because of her love of talking with people. We learned about the process of getting a new piece of equipment into a manufacturing plant from start to finish and have something on that large of a scale can even be tracked. This episode goes to show again that there’s so many paths that you can take to get into the food industry.
[00:03:41] How did you end up at Klever Equipped?
- Somayeh studied for a master’s degree in science specializing in physical chemistry. After working in quality control for two years she became interested in the lab equipment. Being an extroverted person she wanted to switch to a role where she could talk with people.
- Had a difficult time for Somayeh to start working as a sales person in a sales environment because didn’t have any existing customer and didn’t know the culture in Canadian workplace. So she went back to college for about a year for a post-graduate program in food, quality control and quality, actual rents. And I learned more about the food industry, work here and how you have to be with your customer and.
[00:06:25] How did you find that love of processing equipment?
- It just from Somayeh’s personality of always being curious about what’s going on around you, how people they work and they do business. Somayeh enjoyed the combination of science and business
[00:08:36] Can you walk me through the process of a piece of equipment going from idea to being installed in a factory?
- Usually it’s start’s with a company deciding they have a problem they need to resolve. Sometimes there are some companies that want to establish and build a factory from the scratch. Other times just purchasing a small amount of pieces.
- As a sales person you reach out to your customers and asking if they are struggling with something and see if your expertise can help them. The person you talk to will depend on the size of the company. At that point you also to obtain the important information from their process and product. This is very crucial to exactly know how they make their product. You have to put yourself in customer’s shoes and consider what their priorities are. Ask a lot of questions of what it is they need.
- Once you come to an agreement about what they need you provide them with a quote for them and they signed it. And then the order confirmation, which is. All the details, including the shipping, the installation, the payments everything’s, and then they give you the purchase or there, and they do the payment. So you basically, as a salt person, coordinate all those detail with your team, which is include engineering team, our content team, supplier, team installation, team, and operations.
[00:12:15] How do manage to keep track of everything involved in the installation of new pieces of equipment for clients?
- Depends on the size of the project. Sometimes it’s just fixing something something’s for them. And then you can deal with that easily, but usually, or project.
- A large project can take two years from the starting point until the final installation. Being a salesperson is a continuous process and you want build a continuous relationship. If your customer is happy so are you. Make sure you are prepared at the first point and know how to get the right information as a team.
- You have to put yourself in customer’s shoes, if you do that. And if you build that kind of trust and beside that kind of, knowledge and really try to get to know your customers. So what is their product, how they make it.
- Even in the personal life you can’t make your relationships one sided.
[00:16:44] What do you do as a sales person?
- As a sales person you are the front of the business. You are the one going to tradeshows and reaching out to people on LinkedIn. You are the eyes, to establish the new leads and new opportunity, for the equipment or for the service that you can provide, when, when you do that.
- Then when you identify the leads you have to do your assessments if a lead is possible. This includes asking basic questions such as what they are looking for. Once you get the questions about the basics you can determine if it is a serious lead than you might need to travel and do a plant visit.
- When meeting with the customer you basically talk about all the details and processes. You bring all that information to your supplier and they will bring that to their team. This might include them talking to their accounting department, the engineering and service managing team and then the sales team.
[00:20:38] It seems like this job is well suited to an extrovert
- Somayeh pointed out that you don’t need to be an extrovert to do this job. You just have to be passionate about what you do. Being a good sales person isn’t just about talking to others.
- What is more important is that you listen
[00:22:01] As being able to listen attentively a skill you had to develop?
- At first Somayeh thought to be a good sales person she need to talk all the time and have to convince people and have them trust her.
- As she moved throughout my career, she saw myself as too extroverted and thought that she had to keep talking. Though as you keep going you see how other people do business. Overtime Somayeh found that she also really liked to listen to customers. Tom demonstrate this she writes while listening. Not only do they see that she is paying attention to them but also also gives her the ability to refer back to them late. You have to show customers that you are passionate.
[00:25:18] What piece of advice would give to young people thinking about entering the food and beverage industry?
- Ask yourself what are you passionate about and what are you enjoying honestly. Sometimes your interests change but you need to work on yourself. Make things happen for yourself.
- If you are thinking about making a change you will sometimes feel scared because something look ambitious. It can be hard to find the motivation and Somayeh has been there herself. At one point she felt she could just live in the lab but she knew that she really enjoyed being with people. It wasn’t easy especially when she decided to come to Canada. Everything was new for Somayeh and because she didn’t have any of the customers that she had built during the seven years in her previous country.
- You have to be a bit independent and trust yourself. No one can tell you exactly what you should be doing. Your best motivator is yourself.
- When coming to Canada Somayeh felt there were some cultural barriers but Canada is many nations coming together living peacefully which allowed me to connect with even more people. that we live peacefully together. And for her, it was such a, interesting moment.
[00:30:22] Do you have any piece of equipment that kind of get you more excited than the others or something that you really love
- Somayeh loves the whole process of smoking. When coming to Klever this was new thing for her as in Somayeh’s home country smoking wasn’t that big. It is short of a culture in North America.
- It is fun to talk to a customer and explain the reaction to them. They really enjoy learning about it and how it develops the flavours in food. it because they feel that, oh, you have that science back one and they can explain for you which kind of flavor they will come because they can have.
[00:36:17] Do you have any favorite quotes or books?