One of Integralia’s sales managers in France, he has been travelling the roads of the neighbouring country for a year now, where he assures that the trends are similar to those of the rest of the world. “We do live in a global situation of need, which hopefully will change soon so that manufacturers and buyers can navigate in a less atypical ocean”, he assures.
For the last year, Rafael Blanco Pena (Huesca, 1967) has been Integralia’s sales manager for the French market. With a degree in Law from the UNAV and European Community Law in Strasbourg, for the first time in his more than 25 years in the sector, Rafael is only dedicated to the French territory, where he assures that at the moment they suffer the same problems and doubts that we have in Spain at the moment.
What are the characteristics of the French market compared to the Spanish one?
Both countries are very similar, even the global situation is very similar, the only differences are in terms of character or culture. In general, the French market can be more direct, a characteristic that I love, and I also value the respect and education of the French culture. Personally, I am very envious of them.
What is the process for making a sale in France?
The same as for other sales, most often we start with a telephone contact that we reinforce with information by email and then, most often, we make a visit and a personal interview. In my opinion, the personal relationship is essential to build confidence in the purchase of a minibus of the importance of a minibus.
Have you been working in the French market for a long time?
No, I have only been working exclusively with them for a year. I have had a relationship with the French customer since I started in the automotive sector more than twenty-five years ago, but exclusively only since I started at Integralia.
Where do you start to connect with a customer?
By shaking their hand with a smile. You can only reach a customer if you really want to. Without
motivation, the rest won’t come. I am good at connecting with everyone, I look for empathy and I adapt myself positively to everyone. In addition, a sales manager has to carry out many tasks related to prospecting, customer follow-up, shaping sales proposals, detecting customer needs and, above all, being very attentive to what the customer demands and expects from us. At this complex time, only trust and a job well done with rigour and seriousness can lead you to relative success. Although, of course, the moment of delivery of the product is very special.
Do trends in the French market differ from those in the rest of Europe?
Unfortunately not, we live in a very intertwined and global context. Most of the problems
and doubts that we have in our country at the moment, are also there.
How do you approach the day-to-day life of your clients?
I see and read everything I can get my hands on: magazines, news, press and, above all, I listen a lot to our clients.
to our customers.
Do you sell through cold doors or with a previous contact?
Whenever possible, with prior contact, but many customers are not in the habit of always responding to your e-mails or calls.
always respond to your e-mails or contact calls, so as Forrest Gump once said: “the world is a box of chocolates”.
Do you travel the French roads?
When you’re lost on a departmental road in a rural area in France, your car’s navigator has insisted on taking you on country roads and/or roads that are getting narrower and narrower and, suddenly, you find yourself in the company of some cows and, without realising it, the road takes you in the direction of an enclosed forest in a mountain. A storm is threatening and you don’t know where you’re going to get out. At that precise moment, although you remember the designers of navigation charts and GPS settings, you also think that you are in the middle of a storm.
GPS configuration, you also think that you are in a kind of paradise that without this work you would never have had the opportunity to visit.
What attracts the French market at the moment: price, quality, innovation?
Right now it’s the need, because of the context. But, hopefully, everything will change and we will all, manufacturers and buyers, will be sailing in a less atypical ocean in the not too distant future.
Are you proud of any specific sale you have made?
Of each and every one, but above all I am very grateful to those who have us in mind and who ask us for a proposal at this time.
How do you deal with situations of frustration when a project fails?
In my job it’s very easy, there are always clients to help to make a good buying decision, there is never time to look at the
There is never time to look back.
ONE ON ONE WITH RAFA BLANCO
What do you do in your free time?
Those of us who come from a small town or are from a small village, any activity that brings us closer to nature drives us crazy.
and, when we can’t, I also like to watch a film.
Do you do any sport?
Since I joined Integralia, I’ve been motor racing. But, respecting the highway code, of course.
Can you recommend a recipe?
Baked sea bass on the back with fried garlic and peppers with a good olive oil.
What drink would you accompany this fish recipe with?
I hesitate between a Somontano claret or a rosé from Navarra, maybe the latter is better if it’s “fresh”.
better if it’s “fresh”. At the moment, I don’t have enough money for a good French wine.
What film would you watch on a trip in the minibus?
The Hunt for Red October.
What is your favourite technological gadget?
The fluzo capacitor.
Any gadget you couldn’t live without?
My mobile phone until I win the lottery and can smash it with a hammer.
What would you like to invent?
A detector, like an airport security arch, that tells us which customer is a buyer and which is not.
and which is not.
What would others invent?
A vaccine against human stupidity or bad feeling.
What series have you watched recently?
What book has marked your life?
Don Quixote, although I hope to finish reading it one day.
A song for travelling?
On the road again’ by Willie Nelson.
Where do you like to sit when travelling in a minibus?
I’d like to drive, but I don’t have a D licence yet.
Do you get carsick?
No. Although when I drove through the French Alps I did get a bit dizzy going down to Val d’Isère from 3,000 metres above sea level from an altitude of 3,000 metres.
What do you do when you travel?
When I’m not driving, I like to enjoy the scenery whenever I can. If not, I listen to music or sometimes I even sing: always, like the farmers, when you come in from the country…
Do you have a routine?
I have to plan my route well, I almost always do it in triplicate: I write it down in my diary, I also look at it on my laptop and I put it in the car’s navigator.
What would you eat on the trip?
Nothing, I wouldn’t want to get crumbs on the nice upholstery.
What is comfort for you?
A full tank of petrol and no petrol station strike in France.
Your longest minibus trip?
For me, the minibus is always synonymous with airport transfers. I consider it to be a means of transport linked to wonderful journeys and adventure, through the gateway to the world that airports are.
A destination to look forward to?
Wherever there is a passenger transport company that needs a minibus, wherever it is and the further the better.