December 21, 2016 | John Tusant
Selling technology today takes a great deal of time, patience and most of all knowledge of the product. There was a time when a salesperson was just that, a salesperson. Now, with the onset of all the new technologies, from RF and metal backed boards to flex and rigid-flex boards, to HDI and microvia boards and heavy copper boards, a salesperson must know what he’s talking about.
To be successful today, a PCB salesperson should be educated in these technologies and have at least a working knowledge of how they work. He or she must know how these boards are fabricated as well as what they are used in.
I work for a company that produces a wide range of PCB technologies including all of those I mentioned above and more. When I joined American Standard a few years ago, I quickly came to realize that I was going to have to assume the role of applications engineer as well as salesperson. I had to go into the shop and learn as much as I could about what we did, what it was for and who would want it.
I also had to learn when to answer a customer’s technology question myself and when to defer to one of our experts. One lesson that was difficult to learn was that being a salesperson trying to talk technology made my customer wary if not downright suspicious. They often thought that the advice I was giving them was suspect because I was driven to make the sale rather than consult with them impartially and giving them the best solution regardless of winning the order or not.
Even though I have worked in PCB houses as an engineer, customers now looked at me differently—even the ones who had known me as an engineer in my previous life. Now, although they did listen to me, they often wanted a second opinion from one of our company experts. That took some getting used to at first, but now it is something I’ve gotten used to.
This is what I would advise salespeople who are in my position, selling for a PCB fabricator that sells a wide range of technologies as my company does:
I believe that the future is bright for people with my background. Because of the rise in technology levels, more companies are looking to bring PCB engineers onto their sales team. And with our customers needing our technical help this will be a good thing.