That was a specialty chemicals company. They produced PP [Polypropylene] & HDPE. They were evaluating an ERP Software.
I had completely forgotten my Mechanical Engineering when I met this client. I had to learn Discreet Manufacturing & Process Manufacturing & the difference between the two.
To keep it short & simple, this client had process manufacturing. All food, dairy, pharma, paints, plastics & chemicals companies follow process manufacturing.
Bill of Materials, Workflow, Work Order, Order to Cash, Inventory, Warehouses, LIFO, Business Process, Approval mechanisms, Checks & Controls, General Ledger, Receivables, Payables are the other terminologies that I had to learn & understand.
I was with Sonata then. And my colleague Suresh Krishnamoorthy was handling this account. The client took a long time to decide. By then my colleague got transferred to HO & the account got transferred to me. He handed over all the proposals he had submitted so far.
The client was Atofina. In India, they had a JV with Sanmar Engg. This was much before Atofina got merged with Total. Later they were called as Total Fina Elf S.A. and were one of the four largest oil, natural gas & specialty chemicals companies in the world. Today, they are called as Total Energies.
The Sales Process was lengthy & the sales pipeline velocity [the rate at which the lead moves through various stages of the sales process] fell below average. Selling an ERP Solution was & is not like selling other packaged software.
Also, selling to Engineering companies was completely different from selling to Banks, Financial Services, Distribution, Logistics, Telecom, Retail & FMCG companies.
It involved too many spreadsheets with feature lists – and columns like – Mandatory/Essential, Useful, Nice to Have/Future requirements and there was a weightage % given against each feature. In the Sales process, Negotiation comes at a time when you least expect it. There is an important stage called site visit. Then comes ROI. You will hear this from your prospect very often. It stands for Return on Investment [as if you didn’t know that].
The sales process started off with a questionnaire [a.k.a. scoping doc]. That is after you evaluate & qualify the prospect & understand that they cannot live without an ERP solution. The questionnaire ran into many pages. Sometimes, you sat with the clients and got the answers. Most of the time, you left it with them to fill it and return it.
The Projects team got involved in the Proposal preparation. You cannot submit any proposal without getting an OK from Projects.
Some of the other Engineering clients I met during those days:
- DuPont [manufactured Nylon]
- Bharat Shell
- Grundfos Pumps
- MK Electric
- Saint Gobain Glass
- Dorma Door Controls
- Johnson Controls
- Henkel Spic
- Hyundai Motors
- Ford Motors
It was really interesting to meet Engineering companies. It sort of gave me a satisfaction in learning something new. And it reminded me of my college days & I felt really happy about it.
The ERP solution we sold and implemented, then, was Scala [Much later came Oracle Apps]. My colleagues Vijayaraghavan, Rajumohan & VP Raghunathan took care of the implementation. I learnt a great deal from them too. They were geniuses.
Recently, I had an Engineering client from Dubai who was evaluating a CRM product. During the process, they shared a spreadsheet with feature list and marked Mandatory, Useful, Nice to have against each feature. And that reminded me of my Scala ERP days.
Don’t you think it will be really satisfying when you close a large deal after a lengthy sales process? What’s more, you get to work with the client post sales and help them get the ROI too.
All these experiences helped me learn, shape up and grow in Sales.
I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. Now, please don’t hesitate to show me the love.
#b2bsales #erp #kkrocks