SM: When it comes to selling, what kinds of customers do you look to sell to? PC: In our business it was all industrial customers, we didn’t have any consumer products.
SM: When you are looking at a customer’s problem and finding solutions, you are essentially selling concepts. You don’t always have the product ready yet. PC: That is very correct; we often sold concepts.
SM: Especially with industrial markets, those companies are not early adapters at all. PC: Our manufacturing managers used to tell us we would sell a product before they knew how to make it. However, they always figured out how to make it.
SM: How do you handle customer interaction in that scenario? PC: You have to get the customer to love you. They have to believe in you, they have to trust you, you have to have the highest ethics.
SM: Before Raychem became Raychem, in your first five products you tried to bring to the market, what did you do to win the customers trust? PC: Let me give you some examples. We would go and learn about the needs of Hughes Aircraft, a big electronics supplier to the aircraft industry. We would learn about a problem we thought we could solve, come back and have a meeting with our top executives to decide what it was we thought we could do. We would come back with a printed proposal of how we would solve their problem. Then we would provide samples, visit them weekly, get to know everyone in the company important to buying decisions and show them the significant advantages to our product.
SM: It was relationship selling as much as anything else? PC: Absolutely but with a strong emphasis on technology – our strong point.
SM: You mentioned ethics; what role does that play? PC: I want to emphasize the role of ethics because it is so important. The company has to have the highest ethical standards. Everybody has to believe in the fact that the company is honest, ethical and it has to do with the confidence the customer can have in the products. Customers have to have confidence in the products, the people they deal with and in the company. At Raychem, when we employed 50 people, we sold a whole wiring product line to Lockheed for their entire missile and satellite program. It was amazing. We were picked because we were lighter in weight. On a satellite that is more important than even on an airplane. The key point is that they had to have confidence that our small company would be stable, financially strong, ethical, and competent as a manufacturer.