Category Archives: Sales

Everyone “Sells” When It Comes to Building Customer Relationships

In August 2015, Don Buttrey, owner of Sales Professional Training, Inc., based in Ohio, provided an intensive training session for Daman Products’ employees focused on helping them learn the fundamental skills to help everyone be able to sell. 

Those present in these one-day sessions were Daman team members representing sales, distributor services, production, IT, quality and human resources.

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Buttrey’s fundamental lesson is that customers do not buy products. Rather they invest in building relationships with people. Buttrey, who works with distributors and sales-driven organizations within the fluid power industry, finds that manufacturers are rarely focused on continuous improvement in sales and customer service. Organizations that are great at manufacturing and engineering naturally become internally focused. It is difficult for them to shift their everyday actions to focus solely on activities that achieve stronger customer relationships — in addition to delivering product outcomes. And, he admits, it is more difficult than it sounds.

Down to every detail, Daman’s distributor services and regional sales teams are collaborating to achieve continuous improvement in customer relationships. The vital piece for success is already in place, in that there are Daman employees working with customers day in and day out on sales, designs and troubleshooting. Additionally, the Daman Creative Team, which consists of all departments throughout the organization, is surveying customers monthly about their problems and their ideas for new product solutions. These interactions are fundamental to Daman’s continuous improvement culture.

This training took Daman team members to the next step by discussing how each department’s relationships are impacting customer relationships even more than those of the sales representatives who are intended to bring in the first order. Thus, the selling opportunities to gain customer loyalty and build deeper relationships require the following approaches and methods by everyone in the organization:

  1. Focus on relationship building
  2. Assess your communication skills
  3. Be conscious of verbal and non-verbal expression and tone
  4. Understand how internal filters can hinder communication
  5. Be aware of how you come across to others
  6. Adjust and use different approaches for different types of people
  7. Standardize a process to prepare and execute expected customer interactions

The balance of time was spent discussing the S.E.L.L. process defining the steps: Start, Evaluate, Leverage and Lock. This simple process allows everyone in the company to be able to make a proactive customer communication – even in the cases of negative news.

The sales process gives a framework to prepare and execute highly effective interactions. This allows fine tuning your offense, while handling issues before they become negative. Similarly, the same process can be used on defense, either on the spot or after the fact. The tendency for detail-oriented people is to think they need to explain, clarify or defend. Having to react to a situation (such as answering why prices are higher than expected) can be difficult to handle on the spot.

In the two-day training session, Buttrey taught how setting the stage requires first identifying key interaction points. Throughout the total customer experience there are numerous interaction points that can each greatly impact customer satisfaction because they can be controlled.  Changes in the smallest areas can have a dramatic impact to create deeper customer relationships.

The Daman team documented their sales process and the bottlenecks that occur at interaction points and whether they were proactive or reactive circumstances. Then, they took each offensive or defensive circumstance and completed a script for a potential dialog.  They identified the benefit, the leverage point and what needs to happen to lock in action based on the desired outcome.

We encourage you to do the same and have your team continue to work on these processes as part of your focus on being sales- and market-oriented throughout your organization. 

Buttrey states, “Daman has a great name. I always hear good things about this company. It is great to see that they are not resting on their laurels. They are constantly trying to improve, and this training is another way in which they are doing it. They are becoming more customer-oriented and more aware of the benefits of their positive interactions with Daman customers.”

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Don Buttrey’s career started in manufacturing as a grinding journeyman. He later moved up to a sales training position to distributors. Today, through his company, Sales Professional Training, Inc., he trains sales representatives for industrial distributors and manufacturer clients. While most training sessions are private, Buttrey conducts his sales seminar titled “The Four Pillars of the Sales Profession” as public events. He also teaches and presents for trade associations. Nothing engages Buttrey more than seeing others light up and hearing them say “I get it!”

Manifold distributor sales reps need to engage with customers and learn about their unique needs.

Hydraulic manifold sales require a consultative approach

In our industry, it is essential to take a consultative approach during the sales process. Hydraulic manifolds are integral to effective system design, so information about end users' fluid power needs must be able to pass smoothly to distributors and manufacturers to ensure that the parts provided are appropriate for the application.

This means distributors' field sales representatives need to engage with their customers and prospects to learn about their needs. While it is important to come to the table ready to discuss what your company is capable of delivering, the focus should be on what the customer needs to buy, not what you want to sell.

Are you giving customers the chance to tell you what they need?

In a recent article for the Northwest Indiana Times, local marketing and management consultant Larry Galler discussed his experience encouraging business development professionals in various industries to focus on their customers' needs, rather than just running through a presentation of what they have to sell. Galler mentioned how many of the sales representatives he works with "hardly stop to take a breath" when they are talking to a prospect.

"They barrage the customer with facts, figures, statistics, success stories, features and benefits," when what they need to be doing is identifying the customer's pain points so they can provide the appropriate solution. Ultimately, this can lead to missed sales, as the sales rep may never identify the opportunities that exist.

Galler illustrates this risk with the over-the-top example of a rope salesman expounding on the benefits of his particular product to a drowning man who is crying for help, ready to accept any lifeline that is long enough to reach him and strong enough to hold his weight.

"The drowning man wasn't interested in what material the rope was made of, how it was woven, the dyes used to color the rope, the only thing that mattered was that he needed the rope," Galler writes. "If the salesperson had stopped talking and listened, he would have made the sale but the sale went underwater with the customer."

How does Daman provide sales support to distributors?

At Daman Products, we are committed to providing our partners in distribution with the support they need to grow their business. Our roots are in distribution, so we understand the frustrations that stem from relationships structured to benefit manufacturers and strive to build long-term relationships based on trust.

We take a proactive approach to learning about our customers' needs so we can keep moving closer to our goal of designing the perfect supply system for manifold distributors. During the past year we have engaged over three dozen distributor partners in phone interviews to ask about product needs for custom manifolds, cavity bodies, manifold testing, surface treatments and other products, putting multiple new ideas in the development pipeline as a direct result.

All new product ideas are put through a rigorous stage gate process that starts with a thorough analysis of the customer needs being addressed. Beyond designing and manufacturing custom hydraulic manifolds, we are also committed to facilitating the logistics of repetitive, low-volume ordering with the Daman Trigger System.

Using the Daman Trigger System to achieve consultative, strategic relationships

We designed the Daman Trigger System with the goal of making it as easy as possible for distributors to provide custom manifold products to their customers with low overhead and limited financial commitment. Any custom manifold project with an annual purchase level of at least 10 parts will be considered for enrollment in the Trigger program.

This allows you to provide 24-hour shipping on custom manifolds with no:

  • Blanket order commitments
  • Scheduled releases
  • Long lead times
  • Delivery delays
  • Forecasting
  • Advance purchase orders
  • Fluctuation in price based on order size

Ask your customers if they are tired of experiencing any of these issues and find out the specifics about which parts are affected, what volume is estimated and frequency of design revisions. We will determine a fixed price for parts and minimum bin inventory, then establish programming, processing, tooling and fixturing for your custom manifold, allowing us to bring the proven reliability of our standard product fulfillment systems to the custom manifold market.

Once a product is set up in the Trigger System, your customers can order custom manifolds when they need them and the parts will ship within 24 hours. Current forecasting and scheduling processes can be reduced to simple conversations about expected and maximum demand.

Limiting inventory improves cash flow and makes the supply chain more responsive if a product's design needs to be revised. We'll automatically replenish bin inventory within 10 days after an order, ensuring there is always enough custom product on hand to meet your customers' needs. We recommend checking in with your Trigger customers on a quarterly basis to discuss any changes to minimum bin volume that may be necessary.

Contact Daman Products today to learn how our manifold design services and the Daman Trigger System can help you build deeper, consultative relationships with your customers and win more business by establishing yourself as an expert with real solutions.