Everyone knows many of the components of the traditional sales model.
You're typically asked to quote on either a single item, a group of related components, or perhaps even everything needed by a factory's maintenance repair operations. Your competitors generally are quoting as well, and the final decision may take into account such variables as application, delivery, product specification and, of course, price.
But in the hose market there really is a better way to do things, according to Brent Lilly, director of sales and marketing for PT Coupling Co. of Enid, Okla. He outlined that better way in "Consultative Sales Approach—Partnering with your End User," during a recent digital regional training program put on by NAHAD's Hose Safety Institute.
"The consultative approach is different than traditional selling," Lilly, a 38-year veteran of the hose business, said in an interview. "It's a deeper dive into the process."
Consultative selling can involve the hose manufacturer—or in PT's case, a coupling producer—joining together with a distributor partner to jointly approach end-use customers. He said this partnering can go beyond a relationship, beyond the price per transaction and involves demonstrating additional service and interactive application knowledge.
"This is getting to that next level, which is helping them from a consultant basis on how to better manage their hose operations for less downtime, fewer inventory investment dollars, and to make sure there is compliance with the plant's safety regulations, with industry oversight regulations and, in a lot of cases, ISO standards," Lilly said.
Finding the right people to talk with at an end user is critical. He stressed that it's not just the purchasing department that needs targeted, but the various staff members who influence the buying decision. That means getting an audience with the production manager, maintenance supervisor, the safety director and engineering.