Sales: Meeting the Customer’s Needs

Selling pile driving equiment–especially offshore–requires its own set of skills. Pile driving equipment is a “need-driven” product, i.e., a customer will not consider its purchase without a definite requirement for it. With this, a salesperson must have two attributes for success: a) a thorough knowledge of the product, its application and configuration, and b) a good working relationship with his or her customer base. Vulcan was blessed to have representation with both of these attributes.

As its main theatre of operations was the Gulf of Mexico, Vulcan had two principal customers: McDermott and Brown and Root (whose construction operation was first divested to OPI, then Horizon Offshore.) It also serviced the other offshore contractors in the region, including Santa Fe, Raymond International, Movible Offshore (first Teledyne, then Global), Ingram (which was purchased by McDermott) and Fluor.

But Vulcan also had a wide variety of customers outside of the U.S. These included some of the major platform contractors, such as Heerema, ETPM, Micoperi (whose assets were purchaed by Saipem,) Uglands, Jardine, Hyundai and Nippon Steel. But these also included state owned (full or partial) oil companies which were doing their own platform installation: Aramco (Saudi Arabia), NPCC (UAE), ENAP (Chile), PDVSA (Venezuela), CMM (PEMEX), Brunei Shell, and CNOOC (China). These latter were interesting because they demonstrated two things:

  • Commercial enterprise is possible with the combination of expertise, financing and desire. Although some of these were from major producing countries, others were from countries whose goal was to reduce their dependence on imported oil. Some of the inspiration of this site–to disseminate information that make good foundations possible–has come from the experience of interacting with these customers.
  • International business is possible without many of the treaties that we seem to be told we “have to have” for it to be a reality. For many years Vulcan routinely exported a third of its output for one reason: it had a product that people and organisations found essential to fulfil their own purposes.

Click here for story about an entirely different set of negotiations.


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