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Information and Education: A Roundtable Discussion About the Front End of Membrane-Switch Production

(July 2007) posted on Mon Jul 09, 2007

Membrane-Switch production can be challenging work once you get past the roadblocks to production that customers place in your path. Here a panel of experts reveals how they work with clients to arrive at products that satisfy all.

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David Gintzler When somebody inquires about a membrane switch, our salespeople will go out and do a lot of handholding. We spend a good deal of time educating our salespeople in how to find out what a person wants and how to express those requirements. Much of that initial series of contacts then transfers to inside sales, where we have much more depth in what we’re trying to find out from the customer. We use forms (Figure 1), and nothing happens unless those forms are completely filled out. We’ve developed those forms over time. It’s important that everybody inside understands what the particular project entails. Inside sales generally takes over as the relationship becomes one of our company dealing with the customer’s engineering department. There’s an enormous amount of detail. We have to train customers. Most are buying what they think is a component, but there’s so much detail that we have to know to make it correctly. It’s partly education, partly problem solving. We’re doing a lot of problem solving to protect ourselves so we deliver the right product that looks right and works right.

Hemant Mistry I hear this a lot in the industry—how to educate our customers. It’s more a question of how to express what it is that we can do. I think it’s really important to understand capabilities, limitations, strengths, then understand how it all relates to the job at hand. It’s really self-education. When a customer asks for something, you’re thinking about the process and can say, ‘Here’s a limitation, and I’m going to have a problem with that.’ Then you can point that out to the customer. We typically work with engineers first and work with our customers to develop the application. We have to sit down with more than one person on their side to try to find out their goals, the environmental conditions, and who might use the product. We ask a number of questions to find out as much as we can about the product and their expectations. It’s a fairly lengthy dialog. We don’t have a planned script, but we know the issues we need to cover. We do have a general form for gathering information about a project.


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