We recently discussed how manufacturers must shift in a post-COVID world to deliver digitally enabled customer self-sufficiency across all sales channels.
In service to this transition and becoming more agile, many manufacturing companies may gravitate to selling solutions built by internal teams, or may feel pressure to mitigate risk and turn to well-known, large, horizontal-focused technology vendors to help them become easier to do business with.
The Problem with These Options
The problem with these solutions is that for many manufacturing industries, the specific products they sell and the business processes they execute are so intricate and highly engineered that a one-size-fits-all technology solution simply doesn’t work; on the other hand, large scale, custom implementations are too expensive and delay the path toward actual ROI.
Often, for large, multi-product international manufacturers, the front-end users—such as application engineers or sales staff—are not the ones making decisions about front-end software. Instead, these decisions are driven by a centralized technology officer who may have different objectives from the actual front-line users.
For many reasons, including technical support, they may gravitate to systems built by their own team or an enterprise-wide generic selection and configuration system. Grappling with risk and liability issues, they may opt for generic solutions made available by well-known horizontal vendors such as SalesForce, SAP, Oracle or Microsoft. Therefore, for reasons of uniformity, standardization and perceived risk-reduction, they may unintentionally sacrifice performance and a feature-rich, customer-centric approach.
What We Suggest
So what should manufacturing companies do as they navigate these new initiatives? Niche-driven technology innovators may be exactly who you’re looking for. That’s because these providers have intimate market knowledge that allows them to create solutions and software that not only serves their clients well, but also provides best-in-class customer service that their clients need to drive sales in a world where B2B has gone online. In short, they’re able to deliver greater value to their customers.
Compared to generic software or in-house custom coding, niche-driven technology providers deliver significantly greater functionality and cost-savings over the product lifetime. The niche focus actually affords technology decision-makers the best of both worlds: Less risk, more rewards, faster implementations and lower lifetime costs.
A Real-World Example: The Compressors, Blowers & Fans Industry
In order to better serve manufacturers of compressors, blowers, fans and related equipment, FPX recently acquired Intelliquip, a provider that creates expert selection and configuration software for the fluid handling equipment industry.
This allows us to provide front-end sales automation solutions to manufacturers of pumps, valves, compressors, motors, filters, actuators seals, turbines, chillers, couplings, fans, gear, and heat exchangers. We know flow, head, pressure, viscosity, performance curves and test tolerances as well as our customers. That’s because the new team at FPX has spent their professional lives designing pumps and pumping systems for market leaders like Flowserve and Flowtronex PSI. We understand our niche because we stood in their shoes as engineers, marketers, salesmen and CEOs.
We know how tedious and laborious the process can be for application engineers tasked with selecting, configuring and quoting pumping systems. We understand the high costs of errors or, even more common, the opportunities lost when quoting an acceptable—but not the optimal—product.
As niche specialists, we uniquely apply rich knowledge of fluid handling products and the engineering required to select, configure, price and quote them. Our intense focus on our domain means we dramatically accelerate the speed of implementation. Our products provide fully integrated solutions out of the box, and they can be connected to enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM) and business intelligence (BI) systems. This means our clients acquire custom solutions at a lower price, with less risk and with the capacity to offer a high-value purchasing experience to their own customers.
We also boost the timeliness and accuracy of in-house business intelligence with systems that capture data the moment it’s entered—not when busy sales people get around to writing reports six weeks after the fact. This means that individual business units thrive with tools that appeal to their customers, drive sales and are built by specialists who deeply understand their core business.
Ultimately, we have more than 20 years of experience in helping manufacturers in the fluid handling equipment industries sell more, sell faster and sell more profitably, affording technology decision-makers the best of both worlds.