Case Study: Technical Sales for Passive Exoskeletons from California

How we win customers with patience and stamina

Vertriebslösungen für europäische Hersteller von Komponenten, Systemen und Softwarelösungen

Vincent Schaberger
Technical Sales

Our client from California has been producing passive exoskeletons (mechanical support structures worn on the body) since 1995. In addition to applications in rehabilitation medicine and the military sector, applications in industrial production are becoming increasingly important. For example, they offer support to workers performing overhead assembly works by relieving their muscles and joints. In the USA and Japan, employees at Toyota, BMW and Boeing are already benefiting from the Californians’ innovative occupational safety measures.

The desire for in-depth technical insight and a sales office in Europe led them to PBS Sales.

Our client originally wanted to tap into the European market using a consultant that was already involved. However, they alone were not able to establish the desired access to the large industrial companies, and therefore urgently needed hands-on sales support. The desire for in-depth technical insight from the sales partner and a sales office in Europe finally led the Californian company to PBS Sales.

We agreed a package of technical sales and after-sales support (installation, training and customer service) with our new client.

Two of my colleagues and I flew to the kick-off meeting in California. We received technical training, visited the production facilities and were briefed on product-specific marketing and sales issues by the internal sales team.

Together we defined target industries in which we already had an established network. These were: automotive manufacturers and suppliers, manufacturers of commercial and agricultural vehicles, logistics companies, food producers and mechanical engineers. Target contacts were defined as decision makers from the ergonomics and occupational safety departments.

When selling an innovative product, you need a lot of patience and stamina.

The particular challenge is that some target companies have already tested exoskeletons in the past, but often using products that are not yet market-ready. Hard work is therefore often required to convince companies to accept an established product. In addition, the corporations have lengthy decision-making processes. When selling an innovative product, a lot of patience and perseverance is needed before large quantities are ordered.

During the first test phase, the workers are accompanied daily. Each exoskeleton is individually adapted to the person, and we provide them with expert advice. I am always particularly pleased when the workers report that pains in their arms, shoulders or back seem to have “melted away”. After that, the product simply speaks for itself. This is what happened with our first customers, a supplier of metal ceiling systems, a tool manufacturer and a commercial vehicle manufacturer.

We report on our sales activities in simply structured Excel lists, which we go through monthly with our client’s external consultant.
Our collaboration with our client from the West Coast of America is challenging and interesting. It has greatly broadened my personal and professional horizons.

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