Integralia’s sales manager for the national market assures that the purchase of a vehicle is a much more emotional process than the purchase of a minibus, a tool with which a company has to cover certain needs.
Efrén Rodríguez was born in Las Palmas de Gran Canarias and trained at the Complutense University of Madrid as an Orthopaedic Technician. However, he likes to say that his life “has always been on wheels” and his entire professional career has been focused on the automotive sector. He started as a salesman for different car brands and, since March 2009, he has been part of the Integralia sales team, where he aims to “make customers” because “making a sale is a much simpler process than achieving long-term loyalty”.
Selling through cold doors or with prior contact?
It is always better to have a previous contact, but there are occasions when it is inevitable to knock on the cold door. Although in this sector this technique where you approach the customer without them having shown interest in you is sometimes not as “terrible” as in other markets I have also worked in at times.
Where do you start to connect with a client?
In the head, like with shrimps. Although it may sound like a joke, our way of working always starts by intuiting what they think, what particularities that professional needs to incorporate into a company, what their priorities are. Later, a more emotional than rational part may appear, but at the beginning we must always listen, listen and listen to find out what he or she wants.
And, after all this listening, is the challenge the sale?
No, selling is not so difficult, what is complicated is making customers. Building loyalty and getting a company to trust you in the long term to solve their mobility needs. That’s the real challenge I face in my day-to-day work, the one I personally aspire to in my job.
Who teaches you or where do you get the inspiration for this goal?
All the professionals you work with on a daily basis allow you to learn. I like to keep learning and that is why I am very attentive to the other two people who form part of the Integralia sales team, even though they are more dedicated to exporting. And, of course, the person I can learn the most from is my mentor at Integralia, Óscar Lana, who is our manager and at the same time is in charge of sales management. Although it may sound cliché, he taught me everything I know about this sector.
What are the particularities of the minibus market compared to others?
The emotional side of a car purchase is secondary in the case of minibuses, the customer makes a professional purchase. In most cases they know the product from a technical point of view, they know before they start buying what all the current standards and regulations are. In the end, the minibus is a tool and the customer needs to meet certain requirements, so he chooses the solution that brings him the most advantages and benefits.
What trends dominate the current market?
It depends on the aspect we are dealing with. Right now we are immersed in continuous changes, which are also going very fast, various difficulties: complications in supplies, delays, rising prices. But I will keep this idea in mind: it is clear that alternative energies are going to set the pace in this dance, whether it be electric, gas, hydrogen…
What is worrying the minibus sector today?
When their need to move people from point A to B is covered, their concerns are very similar: quality product, reliable, durable, good after-sales service. However, we are living in a special moment in which price, availability and delivery time have been prioritised.
Does the sale always involve a trip to present the product to a potential customer?
Not always. New technologies have allowed us to save many kilometres. Videoconferencing has been added as a tool that was used much less often before the pandemic, but every sale has its own peculiarities. That’s why you always remember the ones where you had to work hard to convince a customer that our product was the one that best met their needs.
So many trips are always a source of anecdotes, any with a happy ending?
On a trip to the Buswolrd fair in Belgium, I left my laptop at the airport checkpoint in Zaragoza, and I didn’t miss it until I got to the hotel. I became very anxious and drove my travelling companion crazy. Luckily, I got it back three days later, picked up at the same airport by Óscar Lana. Of course, during the three days that I didn’t have a computer, I drove all my colleagues crazy.
ONE-ON-ONE WITH EFRÉN RODRÍGUEZ
What do you spend your free time doing?
My four children, especially the youngest, Markel, 9, and Hugo, 4. The other two manage quite well without me: Daniel, 34, and Laura, 30.
Do you play sports?
Padel and skiing, the latter I hope to start a new season as soon as possible, if there is no lack of snow.
I love cooking, but especially paella is very tasty.
What drink do you accompany it with?
With white wine.
What film would you watch on a minibus trip?
Another of my hobbies is cinema. I can think of many titles, but ‘Forrest Gump’ is always a good choice.
What is your favourite technological gadget?
I’m not a big fan of technological gadgets. If I have to choose, I’d go for a Smart TV, which allows you to choose any film and watch it with great picture and sound quality.
What would you like to invent?
The machine that would make us think and reason, eliminate selfishness and help us to apply common sense, the so-called “least common of the senses”.
What series have you seen lately?
It’s not new, but I like ‘Criminal Minds’.
What book has marked your life?
A Brave New World’ by Aldous Huxley, and there is also another one that made me think a lot: ‘A Sangre y Fuego’ by Manuel Chaves Nogales.
A song for travelling?
‘La Taberna del Buda’. I could use any song from ‘Café Quijano’.
Where do you like to sit when you travel in a minibus?
In the front row and in an aisle seat.
Do you get carsick?
No, fortunately not, but poor whoever sits next to me, I’m sure they end up getting dizzy because I don’t stop talking.
What do you do when you travel?
Watch a film. And, if I can’t, I play poker or dominoes, but only for entertainment, never with money.
Do you have a routine?
I like to organise and prepare the trip to avoid surprises, everything under control and without leaving details to improvisation.
What would you eat on the trip?
I’m not very picky, any morsel could taste good to me.
What is comfort for you?
The absence of disturbing noises, having enough space to not disturb and not be disturbed, cleanliness, freshness and an environment with light and bright colours, without stridency.
A pending destination?
A safari in Kenya. I have always dreamed of seeing animals up close, although I would like to go to any country: Namibia, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, South Africa?