A filter media manufacturer targeted one of the largest North American fruit juice processors as a prospect. When the sales rep first called on the processor they had no sales history and the customer was completely satisfied with the filtration media they were using. At that point the only contact with the customer had been the purchasing department.
Assessment and prescription
The first challenge faced by the sales rep was how to get beyond the purchasing agent without alienating him. In his first visit to the customer’s plant, he employed a carefully scripted set of questions designed to reveal the customer’s potential challenges with the application of filter media and to gain the confidence of the purchasing agent. The purchasing agent recognized the relevance of the questions and also that the rep’s knowledge could help his company’s operation. He referred the sales rep to the operations and technical managers. This access allowed the sales rep to explore the process with the customer and together identify potential for process improvements and cost savings. An initial analysis convinced the customer to conduct a comparative production trial, using the manufacturer’s media.
The test revealed that the incumbent supplier’s product accounted for twice the loss of juice as the rep’s proposed product. Switching to the new filter media cut the processor’s previously unmeasured loss in half. The justification to switch filter media and give 100% of their business to the new supplier was easy for the processor to make.
By moving the prospect’s attention away from input price onto total process costs, the Team ChemistrySM approach allowed the sales rep to get beyond the purchasing department to dialogue with all the key players involved in process efficiency. This team approach kept the purchasing agent involved, but fundamentally changed the value of the rep’s company in the eyes of the new customer.