Last fall, the industry's first hydraulic hybrid excavator was announced by Caterpillar. Some have called the Cat® 336E H a "game changer" and "the most revolutionary excavator to come to market in decades". Thousands of hours have been accumulated on machines in developing and validating this new technology. Now it's time for our Cat dealer salesmen to prove the value of the 336E H - and here's what they had to say:
This sales veteran has seen a lot of new products during his 30-plus year career selling both the Cat brand and our competitors, and he's not one to be easily impressed. In fact, the 336E H earned three rare words of praise from him: "I like it."
Digging a bit more into the details, he said the machine performs like the standard 336E. "I really didn't know what to expect, but it honestly feels the same as the 336E, and that's a good thing because most of our customers really like how smooth and productive the 336E is," he said. "If the hybrid burns less fuel and performs the same, well, they are going to be pretty happy."
Berry added the proof will be when the first production machines hit the dirt and go to work. "Being from Missouri, my customers like to use the state's motto on me: 'Show me,'" he said. "Guys really concerned with the price of diesel—quarry operators and utility contractors—are going to make the investment if it delivers on the fuel. But don't just take my word for it. Go talk to that young guy over there, Troy. He's up against the likes of Deere and Komatsu every day."
The "young guy" has 10 years of heavy equipment sales experience, and he explained the challenge of moving this type of machine compared to products in other industries. "Sales in our business don't just happen—they take time," he said. "A guy might go to a car dealer and buy a hybrid tonight, but it can take months to close a deal on something like this where customers count on it to make a living." In fact, Nitsche just closed a deal on a non-hybrid machine after more than a year of visits, phone calls, and e-mails to prove the value. "You have to be persistent and have something to sell," he said. "With the standard 336E, we have a lot to talk about. With the new 336E H, we have even more."
Power and fuel savings will be two of Nitsche's top talking points. "I was skeptical of the power, especially in the swing, but I can't tell any difference between the hybrid and the standard model except that the 336E H is really quiet, which isn't a bad thing," he said. "I can see utility guys wanting this machine once we show them how much fuel it saves."
He praised Caterpillar for putting its unique hydraulic hybrid technology in a larger production machine. "It's a long-term investment, so it will take a customer who likes to keep machines for awhile to make the purchase," he said. "Sewer and water guys in particular ought to run the numbers and see how the Cat hybrid will benefit them because I believe it will over the long haul."
"I look for sales people who have two key attributes: Excellent interpersonal skills and a strong desire to win," said 32-year sales manager Bob Johnson. "Add those together with a product like the 336E H, and it makes it easier to win."
So what specifically impressed Johnson about the hybrid? "The whole package," he said. "It's more than the hybrid system—it 's the whole machine. When I got in the cab, I expected everything to be the same as the 336E, and that's exactly what I got. Production is the number one key with our customers whether they are top loading trucks, putting pipe in the ground, or doing general excavation. I believe they will get all that done and save some fuel with this machine. Plus the hydraulic hybrid system is so darn simple to understand that any technician working on excavators today should be able to take care of it without any problem."
In terms of competitive threats, Johnson said Komatsu and Deere are formidable foes, but they don't have this machine. "They position their products around price being equal to or less than Cat, and you get the same machine," he said. "Truth is our engineering standards are such that Cat products typically last longer, and they don't have anything like this that will deliver the productivity of our standard 336E with a lot less fuel."
So bottom line, will customers be as enthusiastic about the 336E H as the fine folks charged with selling the new hydraulic hybrid excavator? "The 336E is a winner in our area because of how smooth, powerful, and fuel efficient it is," said Johnson. "We're excited about the 336E H because you get all that and even more fuel savings. More important, our customers are excited about it. We have people waiting on 'em, and one customer wants to buy the very first one off the line based just on what we showed him."