Today I want to talk directly to the pump sales reps in the audience. Being a pump sales rep is not an easy job. You are constantly pulled in different directions.
- You have a responsibility to land orders for the pump manufacturers you represent.
- You have a responsibility to make sure your customers get the right products and services, at the right time, at a price they can afford.
- You have a responsibility to yourself. You need to make a living!
While you try to balance these often conflicting demands, you work in a highly unstructured environment where you define your daily tasks and decide how to go about getting your job done. No one tells you how to sell pumps, training is scarce, and very few reps are ever provided a detailed job description.
As a result, for many pump sales reps, years pass before they have a very clear idea of what exactly it is they’re supposed to doing. During this time they tend to repeat a few predictable failures.
1. Pump reps fail when they lack pump application knowledge.
If you’re a pump sales rep, you know the phrase “I’ll have to check with the factory” by heart, and that’s ok. That phrase certainly has it’s time and place. However, if you find yourself saying these words in response to every question that comes your way, you either lack the basic application knowledge that your customers come to you for, or you lack the confidence to share the knowledge that you do have.
Answer the questions you can answer and study the answers you get from “the factory” so that you can give them yourself the next time the question comes up. Pump manufacturers, “the factory”, are the experts when it comes to their products. However, pump sales reps need to have general product knowledge, and over time they must become pump application experts.
2. Pump reps fail when they are just order takers.
Do you add value to the transaction or are your just an order taker?
An order taker coordinates communication between a pump buyer and a pump manufacturer without adding any value to the transaction. They don’t bring their expertise and full attention to the table and focus on just the low-hanging fruit that falls in their lap.
Good pump reps, on the other hand, bring application expertise, attention to detail, willingness to go the extra mile, and a customer-centric perspective to every pump purchase they facilitate.
3. Pump sales reps fail when they don’t understand their role.
Most pump purchases involve three parties: the buyer, the manufacturer, and the rep. As the sales rep, your job is to make sure both the pump manufacturer and the pump buyer go home happy.
To do this, pump sales reps must simultaneously act as the pump manufacturer’s business partner and the pump buyer’s advocate.
Some pump reps err on the side of the manufacture and go along with every directive passed along by the manufacturer. Remember that it’s the pump rep who is the customer’s advocate in front of the manufacturer. Make sure the manufacturer takes care of your customers.
Other pump reps err on the side of the customer and insist that the manufacturer caters to every demand the customer makes. Remember that it’s the pump rep who is the manufacturer’s business partner. Make sure the manufacturer is treated fairly and that their good reputation remains intact throughout the process.
As a pump rep, it’s your job to find that elusive “win-win” solution when the buyer and manufacturer find themselves at an impasse. Quite often, this means that it falls to the pump rep to come up with a creative solution that both sides are willing to accept. At other times, this means that pump reps have to do the things that no one else is willing to do, like providing an extra day or two of field service when things don’t move along as quickly as planned or covering the cost of the anchor bolts that both the manufacturer and the buyer feel the other should be providing.
Is it fair that pump reps are sometimes left holding the bill when things go wrong? No, it isn’t fair, and there must be a reasonable limit to your generosity. However, at the end of the day, your job as a pump sales rep isn’t done unless the manufacturer and the customer both go home happy.
4. Pump sales reps fail when they don’t pay attention to the details.
One of the most important things pump sales reps do is catch mistakes.
Small pump purchases are usually pretty straightforward, but large projects are typically quite complex involving multiple pump models and motor ratings, a variety of mounting configurations and rotational directions, very specific construction requirements, a wide range of accessories and ancillary services, all of which must be supplied according to an inflexible timetable. Obviously, there are lots of opportunities for things to go wrong.
As a pump sales rep, it’s your job to do your part to catch mistakes and prevent things from falling through the cracks. However, too often pump sales reps fail to review the customer’s Request for Quote or Purchase Order prior to sending them on to the manufacturer, and fail to review the pump manufacturers detailed quotations and Sales Orders prior to sending them on to the customer.
The pump sales rep often has the clearest view of the pump procurement landscape. As such, you have the responsibility to take advantage of your clear-eyed perspective to make sure the customer’s needs are met and that the manufacturer hasn’t missed any details either in their quotation or in the Sales Order produced after receipt of a PO.
Good Pump Sales Reps are Worth Every Dollar They Earn
Being a pump sales rep is often a complicated, poorly-defined, demanding, and stressful role. However, good pump sales reps who know their role, take care of their manufacturers and customers, pay attention to the details, and bring value to the transaction are worth every single dollar they earn.