Poland is Serious About Selling

I just returned from a quick trip to Warsaw, where I delivered a keynote speech at a semi-annual sales conference sponsored by Nowoczesna Firma S.A.  (Thanks a million to Magdalena Pielak, their Project manager.  She did an awesome, awesome job.)

I left my home at 9:15 Saturday morning and arrived, after three flights (and three separate security checks), in Warsaw at 11:00 am local time on Sunday, 20 hours later.  I’ve made one-day trips to Malaysia, England, Ireland, Thailand, etc.  I can now add this to the list.  These trips are always hard work.

I was amazed with Warsaw.  I spent nearly five hours walking the city on Sunday. It’s energetic, modern, and friendly. Endless outdoor cafes, attention-grabbing architecture, and of course, quite a history.

Although I wasn’t there for very long, I did get to meet a number of Polish sales directors and business people.  Do they have challenges? Sure. But they, as a business community, are quite determined to overcome those challenges and further establish their position in the EU. As part of my preparation for the event, I did a fair amount of research.  Poland is actually in a very good place as compared to some of their more highly-visible EU counterparts.  Plenty of opportunity there to leverage. And the Poles I met will leverage those opportunities.  I’ll bet on it.

My talk was entitled Selling in Turbulent Times. I took the audience through what I know to be five of the selling challenges Polish companies are facing and then six proven strategies to overcome them.  (See the photo.)  Although there was simultaneous translation provided to the attendees, I noticed that few were wearing the earphone. I was surprised by how many people spoke English and how well they spoke it. You’d be right if you assumed I know not one work of Polish.

Early feedback suggests that my speech was very well received.  But you and I know the real value of my content will be determined by business impact.

A few of the things I really liked about the trip:

  • The Marriott Hotel where I stayed and where the conference was held. Clean, efficient, great food, great service, great room.  I’ve been to a hundred Marriott conference hotels. This one ranks up there with the best.
  • The airport. Under renovation, but efficient, and better than I expected. And it’s 20 minutes from downtown.
  • The conference organizers, Nowoczesna Firma S.A. They could not have done a better job.  (And did I mention Magdalena? Charming, efficient, cool under pressure, and shortly to give birth to twins!)
  • Warsaw’s Old Town and New Town.  When you get to Warsaw you have to walk through those areas of the city.
  • My process for overcoming jet-lag on the way over to Europe worked again!

What could have been better:

  • The geographically challenging trip.  My fault for living where I live.  Small price to pay, actually, but still 20 hours there and 26 hours home (including a short night at the Marriott at EWR).
  • Lot Airlines business class. The condition of the seats on the 767 was nothing less than terrible.  The food was passable at best.  But the flight attendants were excellent.
  • My process for overcoming jet-lag on the way back failed me (again).

Note: Writing a blog is interesting. People tell me they like the personal stories such as this one, and this one, and this one. They tell me to write more of them.  But I’m always reluctant, since every time I write one of these I get a lot of unsubscribes from my blog feed.  I guess some people are just interested in my content, but not me. I can handle it.

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  1. says


    Boy those types of flights are a killer.

    Question for you, I would be interested if any of the selling challenges they are facing there are significantly different than the current markets in other parts of the world?

    And, for the 5 challenges that you identified, any lessons that all sales people could learn from?

    • Dave Stein says

      Hi Dave,

      Thanks for the comment.

      There are differences in Poland, mostly having to do with the fact that many of the companies there are small. The Poles have the same challenge as the Irish (and other smaller countries) in terms of expoerting/selling internationally–is their customer really willing to do business with a small Polish/Irish company? Procurement processes are typically stricter there, as well. For purchases/investments above a certain size, a tender (RFP) process is required by law. Another challenge is when they have to sell against U.S.-based companies or those with selling approaches that originated in the U.S. The kind of approach the Complex Sale brings forward, for example, is very new in places like Poland, and therefore the Polish sales team could be at a significant disadvantage against an American counterpart.

      I’ll send you the slide deck offline, Dave.

  2. Sebastian Krason says

    Hi Dave,

    Thank you very much one more time for a very energetic and refreshing speech. It’s great to read all these warm words about my country. I hope we can meet again.

    And I can’t understand why anybody could unscribe from your blog after these kind of personal stories. It’s well written – I have just run through it quickly.

    And you inspired me for lauching my own sales blog.

    Sebastian Krason (Sales Congress Atendee)

    • Dave Stein says

      Hi Sebastian,

      Thanks for the kind words.

      Sure enough, I got a few unsubscribes!

      See you next time!