Updated: Apr 5
In my previous pump industry blogs we’ve talked about getting the right pump for your needs and making sure those pumps are properly configured. Now let’s take a look at best practices for selling not only pumps, but also services, warranties, maintenance plans, and more to fully maximize lifecycle potential.
Pumps are often sold through distributer networks and sometimes self-service. The user experience can be tailored to business requirements. It can be “start anywhere,” meaning that any component is selected, and then additional compatible components are added to form a unit. It can also be guided stepwise like a wizard, meaning select your pump, then drive, and so on. Some knowledgeable users prefer to start with a searchable catalog that categorizes pump products in various ways. The specific user experiences or paths along with the choice of CPQ and Commerce software will influence the amount of development required in the solution.
eLogic also has deep expertise in solution selling which includes not only pumps, packages, and systems but also related installation services, extended warranties, maintenance plans, accessories, spare parts, training, etc. Such solutions can maximize opportunity value and provide a comprehensive answer to the end customer’s needs. Aftermarket sales and service offer another channel for substantial revenue opportunities, yet some pump manufacturers have not provided robust solutions to access this market. A key feature of the aftermarket is providing easy ways for an end customer to access their installed base of pump and then find replacement parts, services, and accessories.
An accessories list can be especially valuable to end customers because it saves them the trouble of having to shop in different places for their pump related needs. Accessory selection may occur during initial pump (unit) configuration, in the aftermarket, or as a standalone activity. Depending on the desired user experience, accessories (like strainers, motors, reducers) can be filtered by type and compatibility (or not) with a specified pump configuration. Certifications, various forms of testing, and other services may also be offered. Quantities of an accessory may be specified on a per pump or absolute basis. For aftermarket accessories, it is useful to reference historical pump configurations (i.e. the installed base) to determine compatible accessories.
Quoting (and Requoting)
These functions are basic capabilities for all CPQ solutions and eLogic has implemented solutions using native CPQ functionality as well as very customized approaches to support complex requirements. Having a flexible quote process includes implementing a complex and dynamic commerce process (pricing, discounts, addresses, line items, costing, margins, distributors, lead times, and approvals). Lead time is a critical aspect of the quote, especially for long lead time items. Flexible quoting solutions offer data-driven lead times with manual override capabilities. Visibility and access by the Operations and Planning groups to the long lead time items is a key benefit of a CPQ solution.
eLogic has a deep understanding of pump industry pricing conventions including management of list prices, multipliers, commodity surcharges, and freight/tax charges. We also understand the nuances of surfacing ERP related pricing calculations in a CPQ and/or eCommerce solution. For engineer-to-order (ETO) scenarios, we enable refer-to-factory (RTF) pricing and related workflows. Finally, we can design the appropriate workflows for special deliveries or manual discounting to represent the desired levels of authority in your sales organization.
A critical aspect of quoting is the versioning of a quotation for alternative configurations as well as the evolution of pump specifications. The rules and process for handling reconfiguration and repricing (at later dates) must be properly designed and implemented. The capability to propose suggested alternatives (i.e. below the line options) is often an important capability and value add for the end customer. A compelling proposal (a.k.a. tender) that is systematically and accurately generated and properly branded can be the difference in winning or losing an opportunity. Proposals can include creating multiple output types in Word, Excel, or PDF, drawings, curves, and supporting documents, with the ability to manage by saving, retrieving, and editing in a shared document repository.
If you haven’t read my previous blog, I explain our proprietary framework StratMFG that has been developed from over 100 CPQ projects from assessment through implementation.
"It's not that easy for us to do" doesn’t garner much empathy in marketplace. A particularly candid customer once told us: "Just because it is difficult for you doesn’t make it more valuable for me. I know you like to talk about how complicated pumps can be, but in the end it's just a pump to me." I find that perspective especially valuable. It essentially means that end customers should be guided to the simplest solutions that meet their needs and shield from complexity when practical. When complexity is unavoidable, it must be factored into the overall lead time and selling price to avoid disappointing the customer (and your accountants)!
Like many manufacturing industries, pumps were traditionally sold through personal relationships between a salesperson and their customers. But as Baby Boomers retire, the way pumps are sold is changing increasingly to digital technologies. Personal relationships were about personalized service and deep understanding of customer needs which resulted in brand loyalty. In the digital age, user experience is becoming a key differentiator as customers do more searching, quoting, and ordering for themselves. Product quality remains an important differentiator as social media enables customers to easily share feedback on products and experiences.
This blog has focused on the customer-facing side of pump CPQ and eCommerce. There is of course a fulfillment and supply chain side of the pump business that is transacted in ERP systems. This entails system integration, bill of material and routing generation, production, subcontracting, drop shipping, serialization, warranties, claims, returns, engineering and installation projects, and much more. eLogic is equally well qualified and experienced in this side of the solution, but I will also save these topics for a future blog.
We at eLogic are proud of our pump industry heritage. We have worked with over a dozen different pump manufactures and have done multiple projects with most of them. I assure you that you will spend little (if any) time explaining general pump technology or the pump marketplace to us. Instead, we like to get right into the specific challenges and opportunities in your pump business and work with you to design and deploy customer facing & back office solutions that will differentiate you in the marketplace.
Thanks for reading, and keep on pumpin'.
For more on this topic, as well as a deep dive into pump configuration, sales, aftermarket, and more, you can download my eBook “Pumps and CPQ: Solving CPQ for Pumps with Industry Best Practices” by clicking the button below: