In his private life, he adores cooking together with his family and friends; in his professional life, working together in a collegial and cooperative way is important to him. Christoph Lüthe, Chief Sales Officer (CSO) at ista Germany since November 2015, is a team player. INSIDEista was allowed to accompany him when he went shopping for food at the weekly market in the Rüttenscheid district of Essen and talk to him about juggling family and work.
We are lucky and the weather is fantastic. So the market is crowded with shoppers. The crowds don’t worry Christoph Lüthe: he likes people and seeks contact with others. He talks shop with the greengrocer, samples the cheese seller’s wares and philosophises with the man selling honey about the healing power of honey. Close contacts with other people are important to Lüthe. Not only in his private life but also in his job as Chief Sales Officer at ista Germany. When asked what he thinks makes ista special, he immediately answers: the people.
“Just sitting behind a desk – that’s not for me. I like to get out and about to have direct contact with people – whether it’s customers, colleagues or employees.”
Christoph Lüthe is all about cooperation
“When I came to ista, every single colleague and employee gave me a warm reception and was open towards me,” says Christoph Lüthe, explaining his reply. In the Sales division, he is responsible for the employees in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Luxembourg. In addition to classic sales and inside sales, marketing, business performance management, process management and customer relationship management are all part and parcel of his remit. He admits: “Of course it’s difficult to know all employees personally. We work out of 17 branches throughout Germany. So the sales staff are spread all over Germany. But I do my best, travel a lot and try to visit them as often as possible.”
Direct contact with the customer
Christoph Lüthe has been with ista since November 2015 – with his experience gained at Unitymedia and Motorola, he has become a sales expert who often joins in visits to customers, even as the CSO. He is glad it’s that way: “Just sitting behind a desk – that’s not for me. I like to get out and about to have direct contact with people – whether it’s customers, colleagues or employees.”
“We must tailor our products specifically to the particular segments. We must set ourselves up differently for small and private customers than for our key accounts.”
That’s the only way he can do justice to the job which is essential for a future-proof and sustainably positioned sales division: recognising current trends and gearing the business to them. “I would like to gear the company even more to the customer: our products and services must be tailored exactly to the customers’ needs,” Lüthe explains while he grabs a punnet of strawberries. “The important thing is to distinguish between the different customer segments: we must tailor our products specifically to the particular segments. We must set ourselves up differently for small and private customers than for our key accounts.”
How does Christoph Lüthe reconcile work and family life?
“I do not live where I work. During the week, I am in Essen for two to three days; the other days I often travel to the different branches, to customers or to events and then I spend the weekends with my family in Wiesbaden. It is sometimes stressful but that way I can already use one or the other evening during the week to do my sports programme.” For after cooking, sport is my second great passion. As an enthusiastic runner, Lüthe has already completed some marathons and covered the 42.195 kilometres five times. He admits: “Those times are now past.” He tells, not without some pride, how he crossed the Alps on his mountain bike several times with friends back in the day. Any sport as long as it was extreme? “Those experiences were always down to the wire,” Lüthe admits as he picks a lump of cheese, pays and strolls on.
“But now I’ve become a bit quieter. I wouldn’t do a marathon now and I most enjoy mountain-biking with my son now.” After all, the weekends are generally all about the family these days. Then his house is often full of relatives, friends and acquaintances. “I just love it when we all cook, eat and laugh together. There is almost nothing better than that.” He admits that he is not the greatest cook but he is creative. He always thinks of something original. Gourmet cuisine is one thing but Lüthe still thinks a good, old barbecue makes for the most enjoyable get-together.