our cooperative

THe Member­­service – the heart of the GFT

Interview with Gregor Mailänder.

GFT is proactively committed to its cooperative values. It's no wonder that member support has a special status. For 186 existing members, Gregor Mailänder is the first point of contact when it comes to questions about GFT. Maintaining networks is a central task for the authorised signatory. But his tasks also include convincing interested parties of the opportunities of membership. A task he performs with passion.

Mr Mailänder, you are an authorised signatory and responsible for business development at GFT. What do you do exactly?
Mailänder: I look after existing members and convince prospective members of the advantages of GFT membership. It's an absolutely appealing job, because the GFT has convincing arguments and has a powerful support portfolio ready for members.

Let's put our money where our mouth is. How many members do you look after and how many have you been able to acquire in the past two years?
Mailänder: I look after a total of 186 members nationwide and in the past two years we have been able to win over 20 system houses, installers and security technology companies in Germany alone.

What is important when approaching potential members?
Mailänder: Well, membership in GFT is not a simple product that I buy one year and not the next. It is something like a marriage. So let him who commits himself - if not forever, then at least in the long term - be tested. I travel a lot in the industry's networks and not every contact leads directly to an acquisition meeting. Instead, trust is needed first. And then you have to find the right time.

Can you describe this moment?
Mailänder: It varies greatly and not every advantage of the GFT is the same for every potential member company. My task in recruiting new members is to convey the right added value at the right time.

Always in dialogue with the membership of GFT.

What advantages are there that are convincing?
Mailänder: As I said, there is no one convincing argument. There is a plethora of issues. First of all, it is the bundling of purchasing, then there is the legal and commercial support in the ordering process - the linking of the members' merchandise management systems with those of the suppliers is extremely beneficial - the keyword here is: the GFTWAWI. Then there are innovative topics that we solve for our members, such as an open UCaaS solution that is compatible with the Telecommunications Act and the requirements of the Federal Network Agency. Not to be neglected are the networks we maintain and offer, first and foremost the spring and autumn conferences, as well as our performance circles where our members meet with suppliers to exchange experiences and solve problems.

And then the GFT also offers additional services, doesn't it?
Mailänder: That's right. Specialist insurance can also be taken out through GFT, there are special banking services, we offer legal support as well as training. Vehicle procurement via GFT is also very popular..

Is there also scepticism about membership?
Mailänder: Yes, there is that too. Here it is very important to take away the concern that contact with suppliers will be lost. On this point, however, I can allay any concerns. Neither the project business, nor the partner levels or regional conditions can and will be controlled by us. On the contrary: we try to promote the connection between members and suppliers. This is demonstrated not only at the conferences and in the performance circles, but also in the daily interaction of member services.

What does one have to bring to fill your job?
Mailänder (laughs): It is clear to me that I have an interesting job, but that you are interested in it ... But seriously now. I am a trained telecommunications technician. Afterwards I completed a degree in technical business administration. So I know what I'm talking about commercially and above all technically. This means that I meet entrepreneurs at eye level, something that appeals especially to family businesses. Furthermore, I have 20 years of market experience, eleven of them at GFT.

With this background, I can empathise with the needs of my discussion partners. And they are complex, because we are dealing with system houses where you have to consider the interactions of different components. A holistic approach is required.

Okay, I withdraw my application. What distinguishes sales at GFT from sales at other companies?
Mailänder: Sales at GFT are designed for a long-term relationship. It's also about showing potential members solutions to common procedural challenges. But above all, it's about us fulfilling a promotional mission and living out Raiffeisen's motto together, "What one cannot do alone, many can."

Isn't that a bit much pathos?
Mailänder: No, not at all. We provide high-quality services and deliver them reliably. We also generate economies of scale that individual companies can never achieve. We only manage that because we are many. Our partners, the suppliers, also appreciate this.

So is the cooperative legal form also something that potential members react positively to?
Mailänder: Absolutely. It is perceived as the ideal legal form because every member has influence and participation rights. That is why we have a general assembly, not a representatives' meeting. We also deliberately refer to our conferences as family reunions. This could be observed last autumn in Leipzig, when we came together again for the first time in two years for our sector meeting. It was much more than a purely professional exchange. I am not the only one who enjoys going to our meetings and looks forward to talking with friends.

The cooperative is a real unique selling point. Our members benefit from us as an extended purchasing arm, they appreciate the networking - especially in the performance circles. Our members participate effectively and equally in committees and everyone knows that we take the promotion mandate very seriously. You won't find golden taps with us, but you will find professional and efficient entrepreneurship.

Our members work effectively and equally in committees­and everyone knows that we take the funding mandate very seriously.

Gregor Mailänder

are regularly looked after actively supported in their activities.

Asmus Schütt and Gregor Mailänder in dialogue.