Today’s customer needs service

Kevin Selby has spotted a change in direction from traditional selling to a total service integrated partnership approach to control and automation sector customers.

Most companies these days are looking to make cost savings.

A favoured strategy used to reduce outgoings is to cut the vendor base. As far as possible, manufacturers are reluctant to keep adding yet another valve or sensor supplier to their list of partners.

This places responsibility upon suppliers to come up with a value-added offering for their customers. Supply companies are moving away from simply offering their customers single products towards a more consultative approach, tailor-made solutions and products that offer more flexibility.

A lot of companies in the manufacturing sectors are looking to downsize on maintenance and design staff. R & D departments are getting smaller all the time. This is leading to a depreciation in the level of their in-house knowledge.

They are turning instead to the experience and expertise of their suppliers to bridge the gap.

Companies are now taking a different approach to selling their products – the features and benefits of a product alone are not enough to win the company contracts. Instead, they are coming up with ‘solutions to problems’. The industry consultant is replacing the traditional sales rep.

This new breed of salesperson is looking to offer his customer a total solution and, more importantly, a way in which to improve his profit and loss. A typical visit might entail an in-depth analysis of the customer’s total needs and the solution will be the one most suited to the situation.

If the solution demands a custom-made product then so be it, if it means going the extra mile in the service offered then we will do it and if it means going back to the drawing board to come up with a total concept then nothing is too much trouble. The main objective is to meet the customer’s process requirements and reduce the total cost of ownership.

In many cases there may be hidden costs in a requirement such as commissioning, installation and purchasing. In our experience savings of up to 40 % can be made using the consultative approach where the requirements are considered and the best option recommended instead of just selling a product.

Suppliers have to be flexible and pro-active, often going that extra mile to serve the customer. This added value can take many forms – from a wide and varied product range that can effectively reduce the number of suppliers involved through to additional offerings such as after-sales service.

Their products alone can offer added value by comprising open protocols enabling them to communicate with a wider range of components which may already be installed on site.

It is becoming apparent that traditional selling strategies are being replaced with total approach service ensuring that the supplier becomes an integrated and valued partner.

Kevin Selby is the Marketing Development Manager for Burkert Contromatic.

e-mail: kevin.selby@burkert-contromatic.com

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