As a local distributor of industrial products, competing in a world of remote sellers is becoming more and more commonplace. Not only can buyers get competitive pricing through online stores, but they also can easily find out-of-state distributors that handle products similar to yours.

While there is never a one size fits all solution, knowing how to use your on-site presence can provide you with advantages over any remote seller. One of the biggest advantages might start with helping the customer specify the right compressor system for capacity, air quality, and maintenance. However, there is a dilemma in the up-front work; you want to make sure you don’t give away your consulting expertise for free.

The first step of avoiding this mistake is recognizing the danger. If there is no up-front agreement to use your company, what will stop a purchasing department from getting competitive bids on your specification?

Your local presence can help you size out the purchasing process. Is the decision-maker an owner/operator? Is it the engineer, maintenance manager, or purchasing agent? Is it a committee? Are bids required? Knowing this information can help you decide how much information to give up-front.

A common quoting strategy for local firms is to bundle as many things into a quotation as possible. Examples would include the product, delivery (freight damage-free), connection, startup, and operations training, etc. You might also include a statement such as on-site warranty service for the first year. By blending a combination of product and service, you make it harder for the buyer to get an apples-to-apples quotation from a remote seller while also making your company stand out. A critical component of this strategy is to detail all the customer’s information from his purchase.

A second strategy specifically related to products is to differentiate your offering. A customized machine with extra features makes a product more unique. Also, adding component features from multiple companies can make your quotation harder to replicate.

Finally, if you get a customer, don’t forget to look for add-on sales at the time of installation, a maintenance contract, extra filters for point of use applications, a better moisture drain, etc. Getting a customer should never be a one-time goal; it should be to obtain a perpetual revenue stream.

Bruce McFee
President & CEO
Sullivan-Palatek, Inc.