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Responsible for two of our top five customers

Guido worked as an account manager for aid organizations and authorities in Africa, Japan, Europe and North America, for UNICEF, UNDP, UNHCR, USAID and UNFPA. His chief responsibility: generating more sales and creating a preferential position with customers. He then made the move to sales manager, in which he managed account managers and relationship managers of these customers. Since last year he has been focusing exclusively on UNICEF and UNFPA. That makes him commercially responsible for two of the top five customers of the MEG. His customer team consists of a relationship manager, sales assistants and sales administrators.

“It isn’t a customer-supplier relationship we want but a partnership”

Being able to shape your career yourself is one of the things that appeals to Guido so much in the MEG. “If you invest in yourself, you can choose your own path at the MEG. I am living proof of that.” The continuous drive to make the difference and the will to improve is another reason why Guido has stayed with the MEG. “That is also in my DNA. Pulling the best out of myself and ourselves every day. Learning and trying to do it better. Making sure that we solve problems that arise for customers to their full satisfaction.” But what he has always appreciated the most is the way the MEG approaches the market. “It isn’t a customer-supplier relationship we want but to strive for a sustainable partnership. So to favor each other with something, giving and taking, in order to build a relationship together.”

Deliver on what you promise

It is precisely this approach, thinks Guido, which has resulted in long relationships with customers. Many customers, including UNICEF, have already been customers for two decades or more. The secret of those relationships? “Customers trust us because we deliver on what we promise. We are known as sympathetic and stand high in customers’ good books. What’s more, we go quite far in our pursuit of taking the responsibility for the customer’s needs. We help solve problems, even if that is not our primary responsibility.” According to Guido, the fact that the MEG succeeds very often in submitting the winning quotation also indicates that the MEG knows its customers well.

‘Going through fire together as a single project team’

The long-term relationships have led to many great projects. A few have definitely stuck in Guido’s memory. Such as the extensive project in the Congo for an American aid organization. The MEG brought hundreds of medicines and medical devices from five locations around the world to six regions deep in the interior of the Congo. And that within eight months. It was a complex operation because of the dozens of suppliers and all the logistic flows, by air, water and road. But the mission succeeded. “The customer and we were a single project team. With both, the will was to succeed, to go through fire for each other,” as he explains the success. “The fact that all departments within the MEG were involved and provided their valuable expertise and full commitment made the success all that much better.”

Guido considers the NICU project in Ethiopia another good example of partnership and successful teamwork. The MEG is setting up intensive care units for premature babies at 80 hospitals across the country. Guido: “For this we supply and install the medical equipment, we provide user training and we are responsible for maintenance and after-sales service. In this, we work closely with local stakeholders. That’s how we increase their level of knowledge and contribute to better healthcare provision. I’m proud of that.”

Focus on improving performance

In recent years, confidence has come under some pressure due to unnecessary delays in deliveries, Guido admits in all honesty. “That has affected our reputation and, in part, our market share too. We are sick to death about that.” Nevertheless, Guido sees that most customers with whom the MEG has been cooperating for a long time remain faithful. “We have built up credit through consistently good service, I think. Fortunately our relationships can stand a bit of a knock.”

In addition, according to him, the MEG has always been transparent and fair to its customers if things went less well. “We have always shown that we are sincere in our intentions to do better. Because we have continued to talk to customers about improvements, we have been able to implement them step by step. That has been beneficial to confidence.”

But it doesn’t relieve the MEG of the task of continuously improving its performance, he knows. On the contrary. “We do everything to further improve our performance. Since last year we have again achieved delivery reliability of 75%. Our standard is 90%. It is particularly with regard to the assembly of the specialist kits that we still have to undertake a few measures.”

Improving performance and overall service provision is therefore priority number one, followed by increasing market share and tapping into new customers. Because not only has competition increased, but the needs of our customers have also changed. For example, local authorities and NGOs focus more on their own region for the purchasing of medicines and medical devices. And there is an increasing need for taking complete responsibility in projects.

New times, new solutions

These changes in the market demand new services and solutions. Guido thinks along and contributes to these so-called ‘business propositions’. The MEG sees its added value mainly in project wholesale, providing kits (standard and customized medical kits such as IARH, IEHK and cholera kits), local sourcing (purchasing from local producers) and turnkey projects (taking complete responsibility such as with NICU projects in Ethiopia). The most advanced solution, local sourcing, has already yielded a number of interesting orders. “That means that we buy from local producers. We monitor the quality management of the suppliers and their products. The idea behind local sourcing is that you no longer send medicines to countries, but teach them to make medicines.” With project wholesale and providing kits, the MEG also focuses on new markets. According to Guido, turnkey projects are the most difficult but at the same time very promising.

“I want to surprise existing and new customers”

Guido has full confidence in performance improvement and the new business propositions. “I really want to surprise existing and new customers with our solutions,” he says. “That naturally starts with doing what we promise. At the end of this year, delivery reliability must be 90%. Customer service also needs to be even better. Customers want a quotation increasingly quickly, so we have to respond faster.”

All in all Guido wants the MEG to again become the textbook example that it was not so long ago. “I still remember well that we received a prize for best customer communication. I always have that prize in mind, because something like that shows that we are added value, even more than that: we’re the best. Yes, that’s what we want to become again: the very best.”

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