Inductive Automation
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News / August 10, 2010

Integrator Discusses How He Closes Sales and Generates Business

Web-Based SCADA Software Is Key To Integrator’s Success

“We had our record year last year in the middle of a recession,” said Jason Russell excitedly. It’s the middle of 2010, and Jason has plans to hire more people soon because of his ever-increasing workload.

Jason is the owner of a control system integration company, Russell Automation, Inc., located in Vancouver, Wash. While Jason said his company is similar to any other integration company out there, one major difference has made his business skyrocket.

His secret? Inductive Automation software. Jason says if other integrators begin laying a foundation with their customers through Inductive Automation, they will be sure to grow and have more work in the future. In the mean time, he’s enjoying growing both his business and his customers’ systems.

All That And More—For Less!
Jason said he has and will continue to sell and install programmable logic controllers (PLCs), panels, screens, etc. This is what his customers usually request. However, he takes it one step further. He’ll sell an entire system that connects all those pieces together into an integrated solution.

In client meetings, Jason shows how his solution will do everything the customer originally asked, and then some. He explains that his system will grow with the customer’s company, and that it can be modified at any time without excessive costs. On top of that, once he mentions that the upfront software cost is 90 percent less than the industry leaders, he closes just about every deal.

“I explain the pricing, one price for all the software you need,” Jason said. “I mention the fact that they don’t have to keep paying for tags and clients. And that gets everybody’s attention.”

Alleviate the Skepticism
Jason proposes an unbelievable offer to his customers—which raises a few eyebrows. He usually faces some upfront skepticism, but after he gives example after example of other companies, prospective customers begin to trust that Jason is able to offer a better deal than any other integrator they’ve met.

“The software is relatively new, but our experience as integration specialists backs up our work,” Jason said. “We put them at ease by explaining that plants across the country that we support are working.”

And it’s important not to skip over the basics; it’s still critical for Jason to explain he has a lot of capability installing PLCs and system hardware. Companies want to know he has this knowledge in order to trust him with their control systems.

Show and Sell
When Jason demonstrates his solutions, he reports that he gets the job every time. He has his HMI Developer Tim McNamara mock up a sample project screen and put the customer’s logo on it. While Jason has tried other methods for explaining and selling his work, he has found that a sample demo project is by far the best way to sell. Although it takes time to create it for each customer, the rewards are well worth it.

“If you have time to show the customer what it would look like or how it would work in another facility similar to theirs, it works every single time,” Jason explained. “When we bring the demo into a conference room, show it to the customer and make it something they can actually see, it puts a reality on the concept of what I’m talking about. It’s not exactly what they wanted, but now it gives them something to visualize and be able to talk about what they DO want. It also shows our dedication and that we are investing our efforts to make the sale.”

Open Up The Possibilities
To open up a prospect’s mind to new possibilities for their system, Jason asks them to describe what some of their dream projects would be. He knows that once he gets them talking about projects that have been canned due to budget restraints or lack of software components, he can show how it’s possible using Inductive Automation.

Jason said that he would not be able to offer what no one else does without the software from Inductive Automation. It gives him the foundation upon which to build systems unlike ever before. Inductive Automation designed its software to be revolutionary to the industrial automation industry. The software is very flexible because it is database-centric—meaning, it was designed to use databases as the core way to gather and analyze data. It’s also cross-platform and based on Java, yielding a high level of connectivity throughout any computer operating system, hardware, and even previously existing software that resides on the system. There’s also no proprietary programming language, and Jason said it can be modified to do practically anything. Anything.

“Obviously with Inductive Automation, the only limitation is your imagination,” Jason said. “So I ask, ‘What is it that you want to do but you haven’t been able to do?’”

Once he has insight into their deepest needs, he diagrams how to accomplish the tasks with Inductive Automation software. “Now they see that I’ve done this before and that I know what I’m doing and I have a plan,” Jason said.

Jason said that if Inductive Automation never came into the picture, his company would still only be doing PLCs, Rockwell HMIs, etc. “There would really not be anything that would set me apart,” he said. Instead, he rejoices over the fact that he has found a product that enables him to offer more than his customers once thought possible.

“It’s not difficult to grow once you have seeds planted in facilities with Inductive Automation software,” Jason explained. “Talk to your customer; listen to them. The only problem I have is to manage the growth of the plants that have Inductive Automation in place. It’s a matter of keeping up with it, and if you can do right by the customer every time. If you’re able to accurately roll out what they need, the sales just roll in. It’s been the easiest sell and the easiest type of work to promote that I’ve had to sell in the past 16 years.”

Founded in 1994 by owner Jason Russell, Russell Automation, Inc. is a full systems integration company in Vancouver, Wash. The company specializes in Allen-Bradley PLC systems and motor control components. They provide services to both large and small companies, ranging all the way from local dairy food processing facilities to clients with facilities nationwide. Customers span geographically down the west coast of Washington to California, as well as New York and Mexico.