Want to increase compressed air sales? Train customers to cut their costs

Vendors and end users: What are your thoughts? Chime in in the discussion section below.

When I am not writing articles like this, I work as a compressed air system expert for a Canadian power utility.  As part of what I do, which is providing technical advice to customers, I see a lot of sales quotes and talk to a lot of salesmen. They are always looking for the big secret to sales success, the one that will get them that nice Mercedes.  My advice to these guys: Train your customers on how not to use your equipment.

This may sound like quite strange advice, not only because I am a strange guy, but also because it seems opposite to what a compressed air equipment salesperson should do. But I am familiar with this opposite thinking: I work for a power utility, and it is my job to try to get customers to use less of our product, electrical energy.

Good compressed air training is hard to find. Perhaps that is why so many people have such a poor understanding of how to purchase good equipment and operate it efficiently. The Compressed Air Challenge provides an excellent awareness program that can open people’s eyes to the high cost of running their systems and what they can do about it. And what does this awareness do? It helps customers reduce their costs by better understanding their system.  Once they understand their system they are led to proper solutions; this process typically involves buying better compressed-air equipment or accessories.  We're talking not just about air compressors but also premium compressors with VSD drives, better air dryers, filters, compressor controllers, large storage tanks, pressure/flow controllers, better piping, better fittings, and more efficient tools. These are things that unaware people don’t know they need but that well-informed people quickly realize pay for themselves, especially if they generate some extra power utility incentives.

An acquaintance of mine, someone who has quickly worked his way up to vice president of his firm because of his solid sales record, was pointing out a while back that he thought the regular compressed air system awareness training he put on every few months was the secret to his success. He said it was magic in generating projects and sales leads. I asked him if he would write a story about it, but he refused, saying he didn’t want his competitors finding out about it.

At my Canadian power utility, we do regular training sessions for our customers. Each time we do, there are quite a number of guys in attendance who are having problems with their air systems. Sure enough, within a few months I typically see project funding applications coming in from the very same people.  Using this strategy we have been able to maintain some very significant annual compressed air energy savings levels, typically accounting for more than two-thirds of the energy program results.

And the program success has not escaped notice. Quite a number of times, high-level sales managers from various large compressor companies have visited wondering how a province with only 4 percent of Canada’s population can achieve the majority or the country’s premium efficiency compressed air equipment sales. In fact, one of our local sales guys mentioned being tops in North America.

Perhaps you are not a compressed air equipment seller. Should you still care about training? Absolutely! To help your company become more profitable, you can cut your energy costs by selling yourself on the idea of system improvement. Attending training can help you understand what to do and what to ask for when it comes time to improve. And sending your customers, the compressed air users, can keep the compressed air demand and waste in your plant to manageable levels.

You may be interested in a report that was compiled for the USDOE that proves the effectiveness of CAC’s awareness training. To have a look, go to the Executive Summary.

The most progressive energy utilities and compressed air vendors understand the value of training and regularly host training for their customers. Large industrial users can often host training right at their site for their employees. To learn how, go to our Hosting page.

 We will see you at the next one! A calendar of upcoming training is located on our Calendar page.