Engr. A M M Jahangir Alam
General Manager, OMC
Product Sales is a creative job for any Sales Person with knowledge on Products, its use/application, knowing market segment having a database of prospective clients & their demand, quote appropriate products with the configuration according to application field, know competitors data and their strong and weak point versus solution provided, price competition budget of clients, relationship management with end-user to mid-level managers & their decision-makers like purchasing authority, directors will give successful sales achievement.
Product Knowledge gathering will play a major or vital role in a successful Sales Person than any other parameters involved in Sales. Product application knowledge creates the opportunity to make close relationships with customers. A salesperson need to make friends in any organization from low to high-level decision-makers. This is possible by giving appropriate technology as per customer demand and learn together.
A friend in need is a friend indeed. Whenever a customer asking for Solutions, the salesperson should provide appropriate technology. Configuring a product according to customer needs will reduce the prices avoiding unnecessary items included in the quotation. It saves investments and creates confidence between buyer and seller.
Customers are busy with their own jobs and find it difficult to gather the latest technological improvement. A Sales Person should educate the customer by providing the latest innovation in the field of application they are looking for. A Sales Person must provide the latest brochures and application notes to customers and update their knowledge base. It creates a bridge between buyers’ and sellers’ minds. Technology must reduce the works of clients and saves their working time and processes. It must have the best impact on customers’ technical needs as well as financial savings.
A Sales Person must prove that his provided technology will enhance the client’s benefits than any other competitor’s product for the same purposes. A detailed study on competitions should be made before approaching to customer. Sales Persons are visiting customers in the same segment and must create a reference wherein customers may go and see practically how it works well. Reference customers will advertise the products automatically without contacting Sales Person and this will save lots of effort on the door to door visits. A happy reference customer will create more happy customers and it is a chain reaction.
A salesperson should learn first and apply knowledge every day to the field which will create more customer base. Customers are the key to making progress. There is no alternative except learning and updating the knowledge base.
A successful Sales Person must be ready with sales materials at any time to offer solutions to a customer. A quick response will create a positive impact in closing a deal. Communication skills are the key to reach customers on time. A Sales Person must communicate with customers faster through Email, phones, WhatsApp, Skype, Wechat, Messenger, etc. Continuous communication and follow up will help to close the deal in favor of a salesperson. A Sales Person must be reachable at any time in customer needs.
Sales Wagon Wheel:
Leads/ Inquiry Generation:
Lead Generation is a challenging job for a NEW Salesperson who joined in any company. It can be done through the following processes.
- Visiting Customers
- Telephone Calls
- Social Media like WhatsApp, WeChat, Messenger, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.
- Reference customers, friends, well-wishers, colleagues, etc.
- Website etc.
Lead/ Inquiry Processing:
Lead Processing is the beginning of a Salesperson to a customer. It is an important footstep which has a big impact on successful closing a deal. WIN is the final destination of this foundation work.
A Lead should be handled properly discussing with the customer about his application.
Leads must be processed as per below steps:
- Share the product catalogs and application notes.
- Ask the customer what the parameters are wanting to get from the machine. The objective of use is important data from customers needs to know to avoid quoting unnecessary optional items which are increasing the price as well as the burden for customer investment.
- A Product Presentation at customer place will enhance the knowledge transfer between buyer and seller and will place ahead with other competitors if they do not do so. If the competitor does the same, still Salesperson has the opportunity to interact more and provide the right solution to customers by gathering domain knowledge.
- A quotation has to be made by configuring the standard and optional accessories to be included according to the application of the customer. It will reduce the cost of unnecessary items to be included due to improper knowledge or not interacting with the customer well enough at this stage. Any wrong quotation will not serve the purposes of customers and hence it will certainly damage the reputation and relationship with clients. A rework will be costly and sometimes it irreversible. Taking care of customer requirements in this stage is vital to the job to do for the sake of maintaining customer satisfaction.
- A Lead an asset to the seller and has to be taken care of by nursing the customers with numbers of communications and set the final configuration successfully.
- A-List price quotation has to be submitted in this stage and try to get more information about competitors’ activities for the lead.
- The seller should quote the best products according to the client’s budget. A questionnaire to ask tactfully and try to get budget information will help to plan the battlefield for the seller side. A True Plan will lead the inquiry to a successful finishing of the deal.
- Lead Quotation should be submitted along with Technical Brochures and Application Notes / Methods and a complete list of customers using similar products. A list of happy customer references will encourage the clients to select the product. At this stage, the client can cross-check about product quality and prices with existing clients of similar products. If satisfied, the client may consider the product to purchase.
Leads/ Inquiry Monitoring:
Lead Monitoring is another giant step by Salesperson after submission of Quotation and Technical Documents:
- Continuous Follow-up or monitoring builds confidence and nursing at this stage is very much import by answering lots of customer queries related to Technical Matters.
- A visit to existing customers along with NEW Customer and demonstration of products will give more confidence. It will bring the customer closer to the Salesperson. A Friendship build-up with end-user plays a vital role in selecting brands and sources of supply.
- In this stage, the customer will communicate with all vendors and justifying the technical and commercial aspects to select the right brands and suppliers to make a comparative statement and submit to a higher authority for negotiation.
- The salesperson needs to get competitors’ data and pricing by keeping close contact with customers and motivate to keep his brand as the top of the choice.
- The better the monitoring the better the chance of winning.
Strong communication with the Manufacturer and Client being Salesperson as a catalyst will bring more close relationships between triparty. The salesperson works as media to connect both the Manufacturing company and the end customer. The bonding created in this communication is the perfect way of doing the job successfully.
In some big projects, visit along with International Sales Manager will be beneficial to enhance and build confidence. A Product Presentation can be arranged in the presence of a foreign expert will bring successful sales.
After having all effort on Lead Generation, follow up & monitoring, Negotiation is the closing task which needs to be done professionally by the TEAM Leader of the sales team. Team Leader must go physically and meet the mid-level Manager, Supply Chain Manager, General Manager, Director & CEO of the company to feel free to discuss budget vs. quotation.
There are a few steps that must be made by TEAM Leader:
- Introduction about the company and its product ranges.
- After-sales support like TEAM of Professional Setup to provide installation, commissioning & training as well as application training if necessary.
- Emphasize on Quality of Products, Ease of Use, Longevity of Product, Maintenance Cost, UserBase.
- If successfully done on the above, allow possible discount knowing the competition and budget aspect to meet the demand of the client.
- The price must not become the major issue in the Negotiation Meeting at the beginning otherwise customer discussion will go into PRICE WAR only.
- Finally, make the environment comfortable and WIN Business.
Commercial Meeting with Purchase Team is important to process the order professionally. In this meeting, customer commercial department will try to get Proforma Invoice with terms and conditions of import as under:
- Price on CPT by Air or C&F by SEA basis
- Packing & Handling Charges if any
- Price Validity
- Delivery Period
- Payment Terms: 100% Irrevocable L/C, deferred LC, UPAS LC 180 days, TT in advance, etc.
- Country of Origin
- S Code
- Port of Delivery
- Port of Destination
- Partial Shipment: Allowed/ Not Allowed
- Transshipment: Allowed / Not Allowed
- Beneficiary Address
- Beneficiary Bank Details
- Pre-Shipments Inspection: Yes / No
- Installation, Commissioning, and Training
A brief knowledge of LC Terms and Condition needs to gather by a salesperson to face such meetings. The salesperson should gather adequate knowledge on incoterms 2000 to help customer to get the correct invoice at this stage.
Purchase Order / DRAFT LC :
Many customers are issuing a formal order with terms of condition before opening L/C. Then the client will send a DRAFT LC for checking. It must be checked by the Manufacturer commercial team before the transmission of original L/C.
The customer will transmit the original L/C and send a copy to send to the Sales Person for order processing and may request for Order Acknowledgement with shipment schedule.
The manufacturer will issue Order Acknowledgement after receiving the Original L/C and processing the order internally with the Production Team inside the factory. In the Order Acknowledgement, all items are mentioned with an expected despatch date. This OA needs to be sent to the customer for their checking and confirmation that all items are okay as per their order. Any discrepancy must be corrected at this stage to avoid future complicacy.
DRAFT Shipping Documents:
A draft copy of shipping documents should be collected from Factory Commercial Department and check with the Supply Chain Management of the client and any discrepancy must be corrected before issuing original Shipping Documents. This is avoiding mistakes and unwanted situations with clients.
Original Shipping Documents:
Original Shipping Document will be sent from Beneficiary Bank to LC Opening Bank through courier. It contains the below:
- Shipping Invoice/ Commercial Invoice
- Packing List
- Country of Origin Certificate
- Bill of Lading (In case of SEA Shipment) / Air Way Bill ( AWB in case of air shipment) etc.
A copy of the original document must be collected and send to the client commercial department with a copy of all brochures to start the clearance process with their C&F Agents.
The customer may call for consignment check in presence of Insurance Company if all items intact without any damage and quantity check as per invoice and packing list. This helps customers to claim insurance in case of damage during transportation. The customer may complain about items missing to the Manufacturer to claim for the same.
An email should be sent to customers to prepare the Utilities Requirement like Foundation / Work Bench/ Electrical, Water, Steam, Compressed Air Line, Drain, etc facilities. A Pre-Installation visit by engineers from Seller Company helps to understand the requirements and may discuss in detail with the Maintenance Department of Clients.
Installation, Commission, and Operational Training:
A Team of Engineers must be sent to customers to conduct the installation, commissioning, and training to operators as per installation/operator manuals. Standard Operating Procedures must be made and hand over to the customer with Routine Maintenance Checks.
All equipment comes with a standard warranty for 12 months against manufacturing defects under normal use. Any mishandling / Fire Accidents / Electrical Surge/ Natural Disasters like Earth Quake/ Flood damages will void the warranty clause. During Warranty, the customer will get Free Service Support with parts.
Beyond Warranty / AMC:
An Annual Maintenance Contract ( AMC ) shall be offered to each customer with Terms and Conditions. This will facilitate customer uninterrupted/exclusive support for products supplied along with discounts on spare parts and calibration charges. Customers may take advantage of ON-CALL -SERVICE facilities in case of AMC not covered. The charges are higher than AMC visit charges and may delay in getting support.
Quick-moving spare parts must be kept in stock for ensuring better support to customers. It may give confidence to the customer for taking decisions on the next purchase. Spare Parts is a profitable business for any company and hence needs to keep sufficient stock levels all the time.
Customer Database Preparation:
Preparing a Master Database is the key to marketing tools to offer products and services. The preparation should be Categorised as A, B, C.
A = New Customer
B= Prospective Customer
C= Existing Customer
In research, it has been found that 60% order comes from Existing Customers and 40% order comes from NEW Customers. Nursing of Existing customers creates market reputation and bring NEW Customers on board.
Service Database Creation:
Preparation of Installation Database with equipment information like Brand, Model, Serial Numbers, Date of Installation, Warranty Status enable to provide next service support like AMC and On-Call Service, and diagnostic supports. Spare Parts can be sold to existing users which will generate revenue all the time.
Consumable Database Creation:
Consumables are another very important sales part of the business. Equipment sales happened once but consumable sales is a continuous business. A Database for Consumables Sales Marketing needs to maintain and monitor by SALES TEAM members well to get maximum business from this area of business.