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Technical Selling in the 21st Century Oilfield

By R. Kelly | Wed, 18 Feb 2015

In my previous role as VP of Sales & Marketing and my present role as Owner and President of a company specializing in pressure transient testing/analysis and data acquisition, I train my staff to cast a wide a net when looking for potential customers. We identify specific engineers (Completion, Reservoir, and Operations) who we believe our services are applicable to and then work to inform and educate these engineers of the services we offer. It is a high priority that we not only inform engineers of our services but also present the value gained in using them, both in terms of the value of the services themselves and the value of using our specific company. With objectives of being time saving and cost effective, we strive to know all we can about the individual and the asset area he is working in order to provide a value proposition. Receptivity and understanding of this information has proven challenging in recent years and seemingly a correlation to age and experience of the engineers we are trying to communicate with.

Young engineers are increasingly entering the petroleum industry and many with limited experience. These new generations of engineering professionals were birthed into methodologies to acquire and consume information that are different from my baby boomer generation. This encourages me to find ways to bridge the gap in communication in a manner that adequately conveys relevant information and also engages the time and attention of these engineers. We employ several methods of communication from the basics of phone calls and email to live and/or digital presentations. While it is incumbent on me and my employees to make valid propositions to our customers about the use of our products and services, I also believe it is important for engineers to learn and be receptive to hearing about products and services that can add substantial value to their operations.

In my opinion, it is a good business practice for engineers to appropriate time during the week to review compelling information from individuals who have made efforts to contact them to learn about a product or service that might be of benefit. Once the basic hurdle of mutual interest has been cleared, a cursory meeting or presentation can be scheduled. It is noteworthy to state that this requires planning and preparation for both the service company professionals as well as the engineers. It proves more time efficient for engineers to carve out set hours each week to meet with sales personnel in order to learn more about their products and services and to determine if piqued interest should prompt additional courses of action. The expectations and time limits set by the engineers should be clear and sales personnel should then be prepared to clearly present their offerings in their allotted time with information tailored to the engineer’s specific asset circumstance. This can greatly reduce not only wasted time but wasted opportunity for everyone. Operating company engineers, in turn, should provide honest feedback to the sellers and ask probing questions that provide clarification when determining if there is continued interest to learn more and/or if a formal proposal is required.

Ultimately, modern day sales in the oilfield industry has proven that greater efforts must be imposed on the service companies to engage and inform their potential customers but likewise, engineers, novice and expert in kind, take a level of responsibility for their continued education of the services available to them. With the rapid advances of technology and expanding methods of communication, engineers and sales professionals alike can benefit from consistent dialogue.

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