“The Customer Determines Quality”
"I don't have much experience in sales, but I work with pride as one of the faces of Kito." Kiichi Noda, in charge of sales in Tokyo's Tama districts, is always out visiting distributors, passionately advocating for the company.
"We deliver Kito products to customers through regional distributors. It's an important responsibility for me to make sure that distributors understand the advantages of Kito products and how to pitch them, often accompanying their salespeople," he says.
"Distributors vary quite a bit. Some are strong in the manufacturing industries, others focus on machine tools or transportation. And like the businesses of their customers, their sales methods vary. The Tama districts are home to many manufacturing firms, and my job is to explore the needs of end users. I stay in close contact with customers and listen to what they have to say, so I can clearly understand what they need for which task and make good suggestions. As often as I can, I also visit customers who haven't ordered from Kito recently so I can stand in their shoes personally and see what's going on there."
In his tenth year with Kito, Noda says he experiences job satisfaction every day, although it can be very busy.
"After doing several jobs over seven years, including product assembly and maintenance, construction monitoring and after-sale service, I was assigned to sales. In the beginning, honestly, I was uncomfortable with the new job, feeling a little nervous about meeting and talking with customers and distributors in person or on the phone. I even thought I was better suited for more physical job, like assembly or product maintenance. Encouraged by colleagues with more experience, little-by-little I learned the job and built relationships with people at affiliated firms. I started getting compliments from customers, like, 'We're glad we bought Kito products.' Now I can think positively about customer situations, business environment and other factors, and have more confidence about what I can do in the tough situations."
Noda was a member of the high-school's baseball team, along with Rai Takenouchi and Yuuki Ikeda, who were previously featured in this column. "I love baseball, but I can't play much these days because my children are small. Just as I learned teamwork and human relationships through baseball, I want them to be interested in it, so I take them with me to a batting practice center."
We asked him what kind of quality salespeople care most about.
"Quality isn't solely a result of the manufacturer's effort. It's created only when manufacturers, distributors, contractors and end-users come together. In the end it's determined by the customers, who are impressed with how Kito does business and the reliability of our products. I apply myself to improving my personal quality, and developing the customer confidence my predecessors have built."