Distributor’s sales strategy allows Grundfos SL Pump to break into Flygt-dominated market.
Tommy Cook knew he liked the Grundfos SL Pump right away.
“This product excited us,” said Cook, president of Pumps of Houston Inc., a company that distributes Grundfos products. “It has a lot of features and benefits that most companies have never even thought of.”
The problem for Cook, however, was how to tell people.
His team took on the challenge of selling the SL pump about 18 months ago. Although sending out brochures sparked the interest of some customers, many were loyal to Flygt, Grundfos’ competitor in the region, and refused to let Pumps of Houston bid on sales jobs.
“I figured we needed to take it another step,” Cook said.
He decided that customers had to be able to see the pump up close in order to fully understand the features and benefits. So Cook and his team put the SL pumps on the back of their pickup trucks and began demonstrating the product’s quality in the field.
“This method is very effective because it’s like no other pump out there and you can’t get that from the brochure,” Cook said.
The salesmen at Pumps of Houston started bringing the SL pump to sales meetings and tearing it down right in front of the customers, allowing them to inspect the rail system with the rubber seal and the operating control panel.
That’s when everything changed.
Cook said numerous customers told his sales team that they had been using Flygt for 10 or 25 years and probably wouldn’t be interested in a different brand. Then they saw the product firsthand.
“In almost every situation they changed their minds,” Cook said. “The success has been phenomenal.”
Cook and his sales team call the demonstrations “tailgaters” and make sure to bring snacks and drinks for their potential customers.
Jimmy Thornton, director of sales and marketing for Pumps of Houston, said tailgates were a Texas tradition.
“’Tailgate,’ to Texas, means party,” Thornton said. And bringing a little party to business gives the demonstrations a more relaxed atmosphere, making them less intimidating than ordinary sales meetings.
Denny Weber, submersible products manager at Grundfos, applauded the efforts of Pumps of Houston.
“They’re the prototype for distributors,” Weber said.