Finding an Engineering Sales Person is a Catch 22
Sales within the natural resources sector is a highly-involved, relationship-based endeavour with large commitments and high stakes. Establishing relationships and building credibility requires technical product expertise, strong industry knowledge and natural salesmanship. Those who lack patience will fall flat, while those who do their homework will be handsomely rewarded. Salespeople, and the companies who hire them, would do well to remember the following guidelines with regards to a successful sales approach.
It’s Important to Understand Your Own Value Proposition
Companies within the natural resources sectors are approached by salespeople on a constant basis. Time is at a premium so, in order to stand out above the field, you must demonstrate a concise and compelling case for your product or service. Crownsmen Partners, a production content company that services industrial sectors, emphasise the importance of a good pitch.
“The value needs to be clearly stated within 5 seconds of anyone looking at your product. The sooner they understand what advantage you offer the sooner they will engage in a serious purchasing discussion. It also can quickly eliminate unserious leads because although it’s great if everyone knows you, you don’t want to spend hours or even days with a potential client that is more curious than committed.”1
Customer Insight is Key to Sales in Natural Resources Sector
A blanket approach to sales is never optimal and this rings particularly true in the natural resources sector. It’s a space that features complex verticals with unique challenges. Outsiders who purport to possess solutions to issues they don’t fully understand will be met with little patience. In-depth research into the company to whom you’re trying to sell should be paired with a willingness to truly listen to their perspective. This will not only help you understand the company at hand, but will position you as a true partner.
Adamantine Energy also highlights the importance of communication skills.
“Oil and gas employees are using foreign, technical vernacular, hurling a dozen different acronyms in the first five minutes,” observe Anne Carto and Tisha Schuller on the Policy Consultancy company’s website. “Tech representatives usually begin by attempting to explain to their audience what they see as their problems. Not the way to begin a relationship!”2
Identify Gatekeepers and Internal Champions
Given the conservative nature of the oil and gas industry, as well as others within natural resources, the value of a proper introduction cannot be overstated. Who is making purchasing decisions? Who’s opinion holds sway and what is the scope of that influence within the company? One of the main objectives of a successful salesperson is to ensure that they’re barking up the right tree.
Establishing Reliability is Paramount to Success in Industrial Sales
The scope and size of natural resources operations dictate that downtime is costly and to be minimized at all costs. With this in mind it’s essential to establish a relationship and demonstrate a personal commitment to support. Is your supply chain secure? Do you have support in place to handle any complications that may arise? Will you answer your phone outside of business hours?
“Every time you solve another problem for a customer document it in writing or video, and (if it’s no risk to your customers private business operations) release the content on your website to further engage your potential customers,” advises Crowsmen Partners. “This kind of documentation also helps ensure newcomers to your company understands [sic] your products and solutions faster, more efficiently, and are able to use real examples.”1
Sales Must Work in Conjunction with Marketing and Others
The effort to build rapport and gain trust is not singular. The salesperson is merely the face of a total team effort designed to display competence, consistency and commitment. The company website must be up to date and in line with the salesperson’s message. Marketing pieces, ranging from printed materials to blogs, should reflect the central value proposition and trumpet the company’s core values. A commitment to customer service and tech support must be demonstrated on multiple levels, not just through the salesperson.
Finding a Qualified Salesperson
How can a salesperson capable of meeting these challenges be found? As we detailed in a recent post, the best salespeople possess both people skills and technical knowledge. Sometimes this person can be found working for a competitive organization or identified for promotion from within the company and trained for a new position. What’s clear in the natural resources sector is that good salesmanship alone is not sufficient to impress the gatekeepers who will be crucial to your success.