Thermal Spray Reciprocal Sales

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Increasing thermal spray coating sales is probably at the top of priorities for most metallizing service shops in today’s market. One has to be innovative in the sales approach in order to be successful in grabbing up contracts in the highly competitive thermal spray coatings market. Gone are the days when you simply put up a plasma spray coating booth and expect the phones to ring off the hook. In this post, we will address a technique by which you can increase your thermal spray coating sales leads. We will call this the thermal spray reciprocal sales approach as discussed below.

Years ago, a sales inquiry came about an application that could not be solved by thermal spray coating techniques in an economical manner; the inside salesman told the inquiring party that we could not help and that was the end of it. I came to know of it and said to myself, the solution for this person’s problem can be obtained by simply changing the base material of the component from steel to aluminum and anodizing it. So, I called the lead, explained to him that to solve his problem economically, he needs to change his base material to aluminum and simply hardcoat anodize it and proceeded to give him two companies that were local to him that were in the anodizing business. He was very happy. I proceeded to call the two aluminum hardcoat anodizing firms and gave them the name and contact of this inquiry and asked them if they would in turn send us any thermal spray leads that they may receive! Believe it or not, we did receive a few leads from the two aluminum anodizing companies out of which one turned out to be a really profitable contract. I then instituted this approach as a matter of requirement for ALL incoming sales inquiries.

This is how it would work. Obviously, one has to spend some time in learning the various options for modifying surfaces and essentially become a surface engineering guru. You need to know about methods other than metallizing techniques that are employed to solve wear, insulation, abrasion resistance problems and so on. Then you need to make contacts with a small select group of companies that offer these specialized services such as anodizing for example. You need to have a general understanding – no contracts or other legalese or partnerships – simply a handshake that says if you receive any inquiries that are beyond the plasmaspray world but can be solved lets say by plating or hardcoat anodizing, as it happened in my case, then you would refer the contact to your plating or anodizing “preferred source”; conversely, if your plating or anodizing contact receives a thermal spray solvable inquiry, he would refer to you as the “preferred source”. This “one-hand-helps-the-other” approach can lead to some very good profitable contracts. Now, note that you may have to spend some time with your “preferred source” companies to educate them a little bit more about thermal spraying than they may be aware of, but that is essential so they send screened leads and not simply poor quality contacts. Powder coating companies are another major source of thermal spray leads. Companies dealing with plastic coatings can usually provide leads for abrasion resistant coatings and high temperature furnace component companies can provide TBC leads.

This technique can some times provide unusually good results for both companies. For example, there was an application where a customer needed a teflon coating dispersed in a harder matrix. There our reciprocal sales technique worked to the benefit of two coating companies. Because, we received the parts, coated them with plasma sprayed nickel chromium aluminum ytrrium and then sent it to a local company that specialized in dip-spin teflon coatings that was used to infiltrate the porosity of our plasma coating and the customer was extremely happy with the end product performance.

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