If it ain’t broke, you can still fix it
How do you sell a new product to customers who live by the mentality ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’? Yvonne Mah, Business Development Manager Plastic Additives, shares some things she’s learnt about winning new business in her career.
“It’s not easy to convince a customer to change products, especially if nothing is wrong,” explains Yvonne. “The only time customers really want to buy something off us is when something has gone drastically wrong and they need an urgent solution. The rest of the time we need to be patient and build the relationship over time.”
With 19 years’ experience in business development, Yvonne Mah knows a thing or two about building relationships. When asked to share a story about ‘upselling’ to a customer, she recounts expanding her relationship with Guilda, a privately owned, Australian, family run business in the plastic industry.
BASF had been suppling UV stablisers to Guilda for more than 20 years, which they used to make big plastic storage tanks. When Yvonne identified an opportunity to supply Guilda with another BASF product, Irgastab- a processing and light stabilizer system used for molding- Guilda could see the product had potential to offer significant cost benefits, they just weren’t sure which product mix to use it for.
“At first we tried adding Irgastab to the water tank mix. Historically the factory could make three water tanks a day but with Irgastab they could make three and a half. While this was a great result, it wasn’t very practical to make an extra half tank in a day, so it was back to the drawing board to see which other products Irgastab could help with”.
After some further product trials, Guilda found the perfect fit with the production of road safety barriers. Because they are commissioned on contract and the production time was much shorter, adding Irgastab to the mix increased production by 20%.
“We developed the technology with Irgastab to enable our customers to achieve higher productivity and reduce costs which also improved their environmental footprint,” said Scott Nekker, Managing Director of Guilda. “We’re really satisfied with the results,” he added.
Reflecting on this experience, Yvonne shares some upselling tips she’s learnt along the way:
Build trust and support with your customers: why they should trust you?
Know the benefits of your product inside out: does it save time, money, energy? It takes effort to change to a new product, the benefits must outweigh the effort required.
Know your industry: How do you reach your customers and/or their customers? If your customer is a distributor or masterbatcher, they will act as your voice in the marketplace, so you need to have a solid relationship with them.
Identify the right fit for your product: your product won’t be right for every application. Be targeted.
Be persistent: if at first it doesn’t work, try again. Then again.
Yvonne Mah is a Business Development Manager for Plastic Additives at BASF