Thermal Spray Sales Excellence

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In this day and age of increased competition in the thermal spray industry, the tremendous pressure that is exerted on the thermal spray sales departments everywhere can be easily understood. Thermal spray salesmen are constantly asked to bring in more sales and many times they pull their hair apart not knowing where to get the increases demanded of them. And conversely, thermal spray business owners go home with wrinkles on their foreheads wondering how to increase their company’s thermal spray revenues. Obviously, the sales force employed by the thermal spray facility needs to be of the highest caliber. Gone are the days where simply years on the sales force can count for all the credit. Thermal spray sales personnel need to get re-trained on their sales practices and above all their sales mind set. This post addresses this very aspect of the thermal spray business.

Changing and altering the mind set of thermal spray sales people is the one process that will bring in greater results than anything that your company can do. Many sales people assume that simply answering the phones, visiting existing customers and making a few sporadic presentations alone is sufficient; some of them simply become order takers and when the heat is turned up on them they simply try to deflect it by saying that they cannot sell more because either the estimator is giving them high prices or the production function is too slow resulting in late deliveries and such. This finger pointing non sense needs to stop and stop immediately. So what are the characteristics that a thermal spray sales person needs to take a deep look at and modify if necessary in order to achieve thermal spray excellence?

First, set goals for yourself, write them down and evaluate progress made periodically, say once a month. These goals should be targeted and measurable. For example, a goal that says that you will make ten cold calls a week to potential clients is a measurable entity. You could set also a goal that says you will follow through with ten existing customers every month is a measurable goal. After all, what is the point trying to get new customers on board, while losing the existing customer base? Cold calling is difficult and involves time consuming research but the end results could be quite dramatic. Follow-up on previously cold called companies is also important. Sales is a field of repeated persuasion and unless you get your company’s message over and over again to potential buyers, they will simply remain to be potential buyers rather than become your customers.

Secondly, learn more about your own company, its capabilities, its strengths and weaknesses. Your sales pitch to potential customers needs to be well choreographed in advance, whereby you stress the company’s strengths to its fullest extreme and down play the weaknesses as much as possible. Approach your management team with a list of the weaknesses that you perceive and try to minimize and eliminate them if possible. The salesman that interacts more and more with the other departments of the company in a positive and helpful manner is liable to get more co-operation from others than one that simply sits in the front office all day and comes out in to the shop once in a while simply to complain, fret and frown.

Thirdly, develop intimate ties with your existing customers and potential future customers. Try to learn more about the hobbies of your customers, their families and their interests and refer back to data that they have provided about the same. Remember, companies do not place purchase orders; people do. And people have a need to be felt wanted and cared about. The purchasing agent in a large company may have just celebrated his twentieth wedding anniversary or his son’s fifth birthday or his grandson’s birth. Make a note of it and remember to inquire about it in your next call and to send him a card next year. This may sound frivolous, but I myself been on both sides of the table and believe me the salesman that takes a personal interest in one’s life gets subtle preferences over competitors.

Fourth, develop a sense of persistence. Just because you lost a coating contract to your competitor one time does not mean that you have lost this potential customer for ever. As a matter of fact, you need to find out why you lost it and do everything possible to regain it. The very fact that your competitor got it means that this company is spending money on thermal spray services and so you need to be as persistent as ever in trying to win it back for your organization. In this category also comes developing a mind set of desperation. Essentially this means that you need to address every sales call and every sales effort as though your entire life depended on it and not just a paycheck or commission payment. This means trying to remove every obstacle along the way in winning that sale. Note also that the value of the sale has nothing to do with the amount of effort put in. Sure, everyone wants to win the big contracts only. But do not get blind folded to the smaller plasma spray orders; because sometimes these smaller plasma spray orders can grow to become consistent larger contracts.

Finally, develop a sense of trust with your customers. Your customers need to get the feeling that no matter what the problem is, if they contact you then it will get resolved. Their thoughts should equate to feeling that whether it is a quality issue, a delivery problem, an accounting mistake, a pricing problem or whatever else, all that they need to do is to call you and the problem gets addressed. Many purchasing agents nowadays are already overworked and they prefer single point contacts and you need to work towards being that “one call does it all” point of contact. In order for you to successfully accomplish this, you need to be in the good books of everyone in your own company, be it quality, production, accounting, engineering and such.

Sincere and serious effort put forth by you will be recognized in due course of time by your customers as well as your employer and if you are going to be in the sales field you might as well work towards becoming the greatest thermal spray salesman around.

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