Telephone Sales and Omnichannel Marketing Part I

Consider this case study. An original equipment manufacturer of forklifts has an established dealer in Anytown. The Anytown Dealership has a customer who operates a warehouse located in a new industrial area of town. The warehouse is highly automated with most of the warehouse dark at times (robotic pickers do not need light), and their forklifts are used to position pallets and other bulky materials in an endless ballet from truck and rail car to shelf to customer.

Each of the forklifts owned by the warehouse, and sold by the Anytown Dealer, are connected to the internet. Every operating hour, which is basically twenty-four hours a day except for a few major holidays, each forklift uploads information on performance and data regarding preventive maintenance opportunities. When fluids are changed, they are also sent in for analysis, to determine if there is unusual contamination or wear particles which might indicate a future problem. Special sensors on components detect changes in vibration and temperature patterns which might indicate imminent failure. Everything is fine tuned to prevent costly unscheduled breakdowns.

A telephone salesperson is assigned to the account by the Anytown Dealer, and she juggles about 600 accounts, calling the typical customer four times a year. The dealer’s information system monitors each of the 2,120 pieces of equipment in her territory, and alerts her to opportunities to perform preventive maintenance to keep the equipment running. She also receives the fluid analysis reports and any recommendations from the dealer’s condition monitoring department which may impact her customers. If a trend is identified, she calls the customer and discusses possible solutions. The marketing department sends out a steady stream of promotions and information. The customer has an access controlled web interface, with information available in a convenient dashboard, with chat features embedded.

Some of the telephone sales representative’s customers own their equipment out right, and do most of their maintenance with advice from the dealer. In this case, she sells parts and maintenance supplies. Others do some of the work but rely on the dealership to do the more complicated repairs, here she sells service, maintenance supplies and parts. The customer changes oil, the dealership changes components. Others have entered into a customer support agreement with the dealership, and the dealership handles all maintenance, here the telephone rep is part of the service delivery. In some cases, the customer does not own the equipment, the dealership does, and the customer pays by the hour with a long-term contract. The dealership swaps out equipment as necessary to minimize total costs.

The dealership offers online forklift safety and operations training for new operators. Some customers pay by usage, others have these services bundled with their agreements. The telephone salesperson sells these services. The dealership offers an inspection app, usable on almost any smartphone, which allows the operators to perform a visual inspection on each shift. This information is uploaded and stored as part of each machine’s online history, and is used for preventive maintenance. Sometimes this service is sold by the telephone sales rep, other times it is included in a customer support agreement.

In this case study, the business-to-business telephone salesperson is neatly woven into the fabric of the marketing, sales and service delivery effort. The dealership deploys apps, emails, texts, customized websites and chat, as well as telephone sales dialogue. The line between sales, marketing and customer support is blurred. All channels are used, and the customer is tightly and seamlessly bound to the selling organization.