Metsä Group

From purchaser of timber to forest asset manager

Metsä Group wanted to provide its specialists with skills for selling services and producing an excellent customer experience.

Business impact

  • Customer experience has improved and customers evaluated that the specialists are now better prepared for meetings
  • Service sales increased by 50% in three years to which the training had a significant impact

Metsä Forest, which manages Metsä Group’s forestry services, started the transformation from purchase to service organization seven years ago. The change meant that the personnel had to learn to see the forest for the trees, or rather, to see the customer for the forest.

Metsä Forest realized that a growing number of forest owners required something more than just the money from the timber sales. They found it important that the forest assets were managed systematically and professionally. “We argue that we are a pioneer in the maximization of the profitability of forest assets. The production rates of our management agreement customers are 25% higher on average”, says Juha Jumppanen, Senior Vice President of Member Services.

To support the launched change programme that had started out so well, Metsä Forest initiated a service sales training programme for forest specialists some three years ago. The key objective was to develop the competence for service sales and the production of a good customer experience.

The feeling that the salesperson is solving the challenges of that particular customer and is able to relate to the customer’s situation is an important part of the customer experience. Custom-made solutions are, on the other hand, possible only when the salesperson is familiar with the customer’s situation.

‘We are well equipped for that, as a great deal of material can be acquired for customer meetings by exploring customer and forest asset data’, says Jumppanen.

When a specialist prepares well for a customer meeting, they can discuss the needs and objectives of that particular customer and suggest solutions that suit them. This is a prerequisite for the forest owner trusting the service provider to the extent that they want them to manage their forest assets.

Competition for timber is increasing

Acquiring timber is, of course, still the main task of Metsä Forest. That task has become increasingly important, because competition for timber is growing as demand is increasing.  In that competition, Metsä Forest will undoubtedly benefit from the fact that it produces a good customer experience with its services. In 2010, the company did, in fact, decide to pursue the objective of being the most desired partner for Finnish forest owners, providing the best instruments for increasing forest assets.

Results have been realized in practice

At the end of 2013, Metsä Forest chose Talent Vectia as its partner for providing competence training to enable production of the best service. Approximately 300 forest specialists have participated in the training programme. The key issues in the training have included solution sales, preparing for customer meetings, and so-called cold contacting.

The person responsible for the training has been able to get the group to participate in practical exercises without resorting to heavy-duty slideshow lectures. The feedback from each training has, in fact, been excellent.”

The results of the training courses have also been realized in practice. Customer experience and the preparedness of the forest specialists for customer meetings have improved significantly. In addition, service sales have increased by approximately 50% in three years. ‘The systematic training of the personnel has had a great impact on this, although naturally there are other reasons behind such a large increase, as well’, states Jumppanen.

Inspired by the results, Metsä Forest and Talent Vectia will carry out a three-year continuation of the service sales training, where the experiences from the first training programme will be recapitulated and the competence will be strengthened.