At Fabtech, in November, ILS Editor-in-Chief David Belforte had a conversation with Glenn Binder, vice president of sales for SigmaTek Systems, LLC (Cincinnati, OH), on the subject of selling in a depressed market. The following is the pep talk that Glenn gives to the company's sales force. It is applicable to the capital equipment industry in general and we asked him to share it with the industrial laser community.
It's interesting how human nature gets in the way of actions. We have this built-in intuition that many times saves us from danger, however, often times misleads us. It's similar to the signals a train gets while on a track from one place to the next. The signals warn, advise, and direct. The "trick" in our case, however, is to be able to read the signs and decide which are the good signals and which are not. It is no secret that we are riding in tough times, through turmoil, something like shooting rapids in a river. This recession is sending signals to us saying there is not enough work out there, people are losing jobs, and factories are closing.
The stock exchange is a good example of how one has to fight intuition, emotion, and gut feel. There are bearish markets and bullish markets. Simply put, bear markets are weak and declining while bull markets are strong and growing. Now, when a bullish stock is growing and looking good, our natural reaction is to cling onto them, while when a stock is weak and declining bearish, we want to sell. The market gurus will preach that you have to oppose these feelings and sell in a bullish market and hold in a bearish market.
The laser business is no different. Whether we are cutting parts on a flatbed laser, welding car body panels, or marking a medical product, the need to innovate, manufacture, or generally add value is still there. There are power stations generating power for our businesses and houses, oil fields are still pumping oil for our cars, ships are still sailing carrying our cargo, and the cars are still rolling. As long as machinery and equipment are being used, they are generally wearing themselves out, which is a good thing. Laser machines are still producing thousands of parts a day and time is ticking. Depreciating assets will end up in driving demand again.
Another factor and opportunity driving certain parts of industry is the government incentive program designed to relieve the downturn into a soft landing. Fortunately a large number of laser shops are benefiting from this initiative mainly focused in the military equipment segment.
Our natural reaction in times like these is to work less, slower, and with less fervor. The alarm rings in the morning and our thoughts are, "It's slow today and therefore I must take it easy." That's when we need to say, "It's opposite to what I'm thinking," and react differently. If everyone is sitting back all you need to do is the opposite and you've created a competitive advantage.
So let's get up earlier, work later into the night, call customers and prospects harder than ever before. Seek out market segment opportunities that are up and projects that have been released. You see, if you can get there first, faster, and further, you will be rewarded…even in the bad times. It's opposite to what you think.