Having earned recognition as the best retail truck salesman in the country for 5 consecutive years, Kaash is looking forward to his next challenge.
South African born Kaashief Boonzaier, Scania Australia’s top salesman for five years in a row, had no truck-selling experience when he applied to join the company in 2011.
But his burning desire to deliver for his customers, a laser-like focus on success, and ambitious career progression aspirations resulted in promotion to State Sales Manager for Scania New South Wales. Now he looks to mentor a new crop of sales superstars.
When Scania NSW State Manager Kasey Chetty interviewed a young and keen Kaashief Boonzaier in 2011, the initial meeting lasted almost three hours. So impressed was Kasey, a highly experienced Scania executive, that untypically, Kaash was offered the Account Manager job almost instantly.
Prior to emigrating from South Africa, Kaash had been involved in telecom sales and then built his own construction company, specialising in apartment blocks. Moving to Australia he managed a call centre for a premium car company, but knew he wanted more. Spotting an advert for an Account Manager’s position at Scania’s Sydney branch at Prestons, he saw the potential matched his ache for success.
“In South Africa I had developed strong communication and negotiation skills, dealing with customers face-to-face. After five years at the call centre in Sydney I was tired of the two-hour commute plus I had career expectations, and I thrive on success,” Kaash says.
“I saw a job come up at Scania and I knew that working for a global company offers many pathways to success. In the interview, Kasey said what impressed him was that I knew what I wanted and I presented well. I was interested in fast cars and heavy machinery from my youngest days. I also liked that Scania was linked to VW and their Audi and Lamborghini brands. Apart from Scania being a global brand, they predominantly owned their own dealer network in Australia. This means there’s a structure and a career path within a company-owned business. Working for an independent dealer, there's only so high you can rise,” says Kaash.
“When I started, Dean Dal Santo, who is today Director of Sales told me ‘You can set your levels and your career aspirations quite high here. You can achieve a lot if you push yourself’. I had a good mentor, John Byron. I worked with him, and closely with Dean, attending a lot of meetings. Dean presents well and is confident. I wanted to emulate him. He always made time for me, which was highly appreciated. I'd ring him and say, ‘What can I do better, to become a better person’. “He would always push me, and he still does, and challenges my thinking. That makes me the strong, confident person I am today when I'm sitting in front of customers, because of that guidance.
“My plan was to work up to a senior role within the company, but first I needed to develop my leadership skills. I asked for leadership skills training, and they sent me. I was also exposed to Scania’s solution selling. It is more than just selling the equipment; it's about actually listening to customers. Success doesn’t come overnight. From the first to my fifth year, it was hard work. Knocking on doors, meeting people, introducing myself. So, people got to know me, and now they come looking for me. I always said that whether the customer owns one, five, 10, 50 or 100 vehicles, I'd give them the same level of customer service, the same levels of attention. Follow-up, loyalty, honesty is very important to these customers. We sell many trucks to single-vehicle operators, and they talk to a lot of people, they look at all the fleets to see what they buy. Trust, respect and persistence are important. To keep in contact through quiet times as well as busy times with customers. Always being there for customers and fostering good after sales relationships too,’ says Kaash.
“A lot of people ask me, ‘What motivates you? You always come to work motivated, happy’. The answer is simple. I wake up every morning, I look at my wife and my kids, and I just want more than anything to give them the best life that I can. I am a very religious man and I’m extremely grateful for my blessings in life. Scania has been really good to me, they supported me from day one. I couldn't have asked for a better company. I've had multiple offers to leave Scania, but I wouldn't, just because of the loyalty and the support that Scania has offered me, through good times and bad, they've been there for me,” Kaash says.
“I'm always on call for my customers. They have a sense of security dealing with me. They know if they have an issue, I will be there to get it fixed. If I can't, I'll call on other people within the business to help. Good relationships with the after sales department is crucial. We might sell the first truck; the rest is up to the workshop and after sales. Success is always about teamwork. It’s always been about the support network within the organisation. We work with multiple departments, with good skillsets, and great people, so together we form a strong network to support our customers,” says Kaash.
“When I started at Scania, my key objectives and expectations were that I wanted to be the top salesperson. At my first Scania sales conference they had the number one Account Manager sitting on stage. He had earned a trip to Sweden. I thought to myself, ‘This is my goal’. Roger McCarthy (former Managing Director at Scania Australia) had a really good impact on me. The first thing he told me was, ‘An Account Manager is not just somebody who can sell, but somebody who has the whole package. Somebody who presents well, communicates well and also does a really good job’. I was looking at moving to fleet sales, but Roger guided me to stay in retail. He said, ‘You're good at what you do, the customers like you. You’re well structured. If I was you, I would stay in retail, then grow into a senior role,” Kaash says.
“As for the future, well, I've achieved the top salesperson in the country five years in a row, through hard work and determination to better myself. I’m on track to retain the title this year as well. The key highlights for me were promotion to Senior Account Manager in 2018, and in 2019 I broke the national record for the most retail new truck deliveries. That was a big, big milestone that I achieved and Scania presented me with a glass plaque that sits on my desk. It says, ‘In appreciation of your outstanding contribution to the success of Scania Australia in 2019’. “My medium-term aim is to create a high performing sales team capable of continuing to deliver on the Scania market plan and ensure future growth,” says Kaash.
“This role of State Sales Manager is the culmination of my 10 years with Scania. Now I'm entrusted to lead and guide and mentor my own team and to develop and create a good working environment within the sales team. Anybody who joins this team can do exactly what I've done. The only thing stopping them from doing what I have done is themselves. All the tools for success are here. Just like life in general. If you don't seize the opportunities given to you, then you can't expect good results.
“Scania products speaks for themselves. I thoroughly believe in them, and they are some of the strongest products on the market. I am fortunate to represent a premium product in a very competitive market, which makes the job extremely enjoyable. The people I work with, from all different countries, cultures and backgrounds makes it such a really good environment to be in,” says Kaash.
“It’s important for Scania to attract a new generation of sales guys and technicians to Scania. For me, on my first day, Dean Dal Santo said to me he was happy I had no background in trucks, no preconceptions, and that still applies today. Dean said: ‘We have had success with salespeople joining the company with no trucking experience, where we guide, mentor and train them to be the kind of account manager that will represent Scania well and help our customers succeed’.
“Knock on doors and talk to people, but not with the expectation of a sale, just listen,” Kaash says. “If I don't sell something, that’s fine. At least I got to meet them, and they got to meet me. That’s always been my main objective when I'm cold calling or when I'm meeting customers. Because if I can't help you today, it doesn't necessarily mean I won’t be able to help you in five- or 10-years’ time. I had a prospect who was one of our competitor’s biggest customers. I would call on him once very couple of months, have a coffee, chat on the phone. Eventually, one day he said, ‘I want to give you an opportunity’. Now we have 30 Scanias in that fleet. The bottom line is that you have to build and maintain good, strong customer relationships, founded on respect, trust and honesty,” he says.
In addition to cultivating a body of owners and operators who rely on Kaash to deliver 24/7, his relationships within the Scania business are also firmly founded on mutual respect and understanding. “Kaash is a rare individual who has mastered the art of relationship management,” says Lionel Saunders, Scania Prestons NSW Branch Manager.
“His ability to engage and build trust and rapport with customers right from the first meeting is something we don’t often see in this industry. Just as important, his skills in this area also extend to internal relationships. He maintains close contact with the service, parts and contracted services staff so he is always across his truck builds and relays all his customer needs right through to delivery. Much of his success can be attributed to the fact he understands the link between sales and aftersales, the link where he may sell the first truck but the aftersales business helps sell the second, third and more through good service,” he says.
“Kaash prioritises aftersales introductions to all his clients, involving myself or other key aftersales people in meetings so his customers have that peace-of-mind that the entire Scania business cares about their business. Should his customers experience an issue after delivery and throughout the life of ownership he will go further again by getting involved, working with different departments and assisting in finding a good outcome … again building trust and repeat business. This is textbook account management, you could say. It is not a strange sight to see him walking the workshop floor, joking with technicians, having coffee with the service advisors or having lunch with the parts staff. He will always make time for the aftersales team as he understands how much they contribute to his customers’ satisfaction. The team respect and admire him, a critical element in his success and a lesson for his peers,” Lionel says.