Caterpillar Inside Sales Representatives

Caterpillar Inside Sales Representatives

Greg McClelland

ISR Manager | NC Machinery Co.

“Caterpillar offers a wide and deep network of support to our marine customers. We’re a phone call away, even when they’re in isolated locations. If a small customer with a pleasure craft wants to do some fishing in a remote area, with Caterpillar, they can. They’re able to access a local Cat® dealer there who will deliver consistent service.”

(206) 418-9181
gmcclelland@ncmachinery.com


What type of work does NC Machinery’s Inside Sales Representative (ISR) team handle?

Greg McClelland – The ISR team covers product support for all market segments for small- to medium-sized customers. We make phone calls to customers and build relationships to develop a partnership with each person.

Greg Parker – Our ISRs are engine specific and dedicated to marine. They are centrally located to handle all markets for Caterpillar.

What types of goals and priorities do your marine customers have?

Greg Parker – The number one priority of our customers is the dependability of the engines that they are running, particularly the smaller engines of marine vessels. These engines need to do what they are expected to. Timeliness of repairs is also very important. We cover a large geographic area to reach marine vessels where they work. Timeliness is an important priority for customers like this.

What is the state of the marine industry in the Pacific Northwest at this time?

Greg Parker – The Pacific Northwest has a large marine industry. We break up the marine business into sub categories. Fishing is the most predominant, and the workboat segment is close to that. The workboat market customer base tends to be larger. In the fishing industry, it’s generally a small- to medium-sized customer who is a good fit for Cat ISRs. Pleasure crafts are another focus for us. While the Japanese market has impacted fishing prices, overall the marine business here is steady.

What are some of the challenges that your customers face?

Greg Parker - Everyone is cost-conscious, but some of the challenges – especially for commercial marine customers – are the regulations. Specifically with emissions from the engines, wastewater discharge and leaks aboard that can seep into the water and cause regulatory concerns.

Tim Hinds – Their geographic locations can be a challenge. We have customers who are scattered along the West Coast, including up to Alaska.

What kind of value does the ISR team offer your smaller customers?

Greg McClelland – We provide personalized service. ISRs advocate for the customer to assist with maintenance repair options. We are their go-to contact. We’re attentive and work to become a confidant to that customer.

How does that differ from working with larger customers?

Tim Hinds – It comes down to whom the relationship is with. The ISR may be talking to the owners when it’s a smaller customer. With a larger customer, they may be dealing with engineers.

Greg Parker – Larger customers will utilize port engineers and some are former Caterpillar employees who are very knowledgeable about systems. They provide a great deal of value to their companies in terms of maintenance and repair. Smaller customers may have a chief on board but they may not have a support engineer on staff. So the ISR is critical to providing a level of support that may not be available to them without a support engineer.

What does Caterpillar do better than the competition?

Greg Parker – Independent small service providers are fairly good at doing minor repairs, but they don’t have the support of the factory and dealership. That’s the additional value that Caterpillar can offer. We can provide sample analysis and access to technical engineering staff through our Dealer Solution Network. It’s all part of the total package they receive when engaging with us.

How do you connect with customers?

Greg McClelland – It’s mainly over the phone, along with texting and email attachments. We also connect through direct mail and attend trade shows to meet face-to-face with customers. We always personalize service based on customer preference.

What are some of the ISR team’s strengths?

Greg McClelland – We are all centrally located, and there is a lot of synergy among the team. We know what the other ISRs are working on and provide assistance by jumping in as needed. This often streamlines the process of getting things done for our customers.

Greg Parker – ISRs and Product Support Sales Representatives (PSSRs) work collaboratively and cohesively. It’s a success formula as the PSSRs travel out to the customer to see the issues firsthand. Then they bring specific customer insights back to the ISRs. They are really the eyes and ears of the ISR team.

What does the ISR team offer a customer in the initial weeks and months of an engine purchase?

Greg McClelland – The three main things we look at after the initial purchase are the warranty, maintenance options and in-frame overhauls. Caterpillar can provide a unique level of support at the store level, at a location nearby.

Greg Parker – We’ll take the boats out on the water and assess the performance of the engine, utilizing sea trial computer-aided marine analysis support.

What value does the ISR team provide to customers a few years after purchase?

Greg Parker – With clean data in our system, we can capture the hours on the engine. We can show upcoming maintenance events that are required for that engine for the hours that it’s trending and can contact the customer a month in advance of an upcoming maintenance need. It impresses the customer when they receive a call saying that based on their current utilization they have upcoming service that is needed. It’s become a very powerful tool for Caterpillar. It has differentiated our team from other independent providers, because we are able to provide customized information that others cannot.

Greg McClelland – ISRs help customers plan ahead for maintenance. Especially when there’s an established relationship built up over the years, our customer gets to appreciate the value of Caterpillar.

Greg Parker – Warranty and costs are considerations but dependability is also very important. If an engine fails while they’re out to sea, their lives are at risk. It’s an expensive and significant event.

How important is preventative engine maintenance to the upkeep of these engines?

Greg McClelland - It’s critical to the success of any customer. We don’t want a customer to experience a premature failure because something was overlooked. We want to make sure we stay on top of the recommended maintenance of these products, so we know that we’re performing service at the right intervals. It provides customers with quality performance for the life of the engine.

What preconceptions does Caterpllar have to overcome with some of your smaller customers?

Greg McClelland – It’s one of the biggest obstacles that we need to overcome. Sometimes a small customer may think, “They’re only talking to me because the bigger customers are slow.” But it’s an opportunity for our team to demonstrate its value to smaller customers, who may not know that Cat ISRs are geared to their business as well.

Greg Parker – Here’s a success story that speaks to how we can help small customers. One of our large marine customers in Alaska processes fish. Every year around July, there are many large salmon vessels and smaller customers that are fishing. This goes on for about six weeks. Our large customers depend on the smaller ones to provide them with fish. We will assist our large customers quite a bit during this time. Plus, our ISRs work closely to help support the fishery. It ends up being a win for both small and large customers. Cat ISRs help customers of all sizes succeed.

Are there specific Cat extended service plans that are beneficial to customers?

Greg McClelland – We offer a variety of plans, so it’s important to find the right level of need. I’ll share a recent example. A local ship builder designed a pleasure craft that was going to travel all over the world. He wanted to make sure they were running fully up to speed wherever they were. Caterpillar presented an Extended Service Coverage proposal, which featured Cat Concierge Service. So wherever that customer is in the world, he can make a call to the local Cat dealer who will help work through the repair. It’s a great way to give a customer the reliability they’re looking for.

What is the 10-second elevator speech you might give to a prospective customer?

Greg McClelland – We are going to find common ground and partner with you to help you be successful in your business. Caterpillar can help you get the most out of your engine by performing maintenance and repairs at the right time, wherever you are.

Greg Parker – When a small customer looks at all their options for product support, Caterpillar absolutely provides the best value.

What else does the ISR team do well that we haven’t touched on?

Greg Parker – We’re fortunate with our marine ISR team to hire people with extensive industry experience. As just one example, we have a team member who has a 40-year background in the marine industry. He is a walking encyclopedia of everything marine, and a great find for us. You have to be able to relate to the customer and he is able to connect with everyone from yacht to military vessel customers. If an ISR can’t answer a certain question, as their advocate, they know to contact our network to track down the answers the customer needs. Perhaps a customer is out of warranty. They may not have gotten good value for their engine. With Cat factory support, we’re able to facilitate a discussion with a Caterpillar parts rep to provide a solution for them.

Why should a marine customer consider working with the ISR team?

Tim Hinds – We feel our marine ISRs offer the best possible support compared to any other options out there. We have a number of sophisticated programs that can track engines and many other important metrics. Essentially, what we say to a customer in the fishing industry is, “Your expertise is in fishing, and ours is in taking care of your engine.”

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