When I started selling to the toolmakers and molders back in 1976, companies handed their salesmen a customer list, a box of catalogs and keys to a car, as well as an expense account to entertain clients and attend trade shows. For the most part, that was the marketing strategy of the day.
A salesperson knew where every bank of pay phones was in his/her territory. You would arrive in an area, make cold calls from the pay phone, set up some appointments, and off you went.
Then came pagers. You would give your pager number to customers and they could page you at their convenience.
Then fax machines. I can still remember my first customer to have a fax machine. It was incredible at the time--you could put in a print and in a few seconds it was sent! We would have a quotation sent back on the same day, possibly? Unreal!
I got used to receiving a call to come and pick up prints and then mail them to my supplier for quotation. It was not uncommon to make several pick-ups of mold base prints and then either UPS, snail mail or drive drawings for a job to be quoted. Most customers back then settled on a few suppliers; partly due to the cost of printing and transporting prints.
We are now in an entirely different world of sales and marketing in which we have the ability to send 3D CAD data instantaneously with the click of a button. We went from a car full of catalogs to providing customers with several means to learn about everything we provide--launching websites with nearly 12,000 products for the toolmaker and molder.
In modern day, customers want to have informed sales people with instant access to all products offered and multiple ways to purchase and obtain information. We have customers who use their smart phones, iPads, and computers to look at and purchase products. More than 1,000 people view our website every month to get product info or part numbers.
Marketing to moldmakers is not easy, even now with all of the technology at our fingertips. I recall Gary and Christina coming to my office in Danboro, PA, back in the 90s to discuss a concept called “MoldMaking Technology.” A first of its kind, the magazine was devoted primarily to moldmakers. I remember thinking that companies like mine and my competitors would finally have some place to market to the customer base.
I have seen plenty of changes in sales and marketing strategies throughout my career; and, although all of the technology helps, I am happy that many toolmakers are a stubborn bunch who still prefer the in-person visit or a phone call to get a "real" person on the line who has adequate knowledge of the product line. The phone still rings amidst the emails and online orders.
There are many benefits with today’s technology to companies selling to the mold manufacturing industry. Between broadcast emails, faxes and online ordering, customers have an opportunity to “shop” many different options and sources.
Glenn Hertzler is the president and co-owner (along with his wife Lydia) of Hawk Mold & Die Supply, Inc., a family owned distributer of mold and die components. Since 1989, Hawk Mold has proudly represented PCS Company & their line of mold components. Contact Glenn at email@example.com or 800-488-7757.