Tag Archives: Selling Tips

Matt’s Message: Be a JET!

Inspired by The Age of Speed by Vince Poscente…

We live in the Age of Speed. There are four types of people in today’s new and dynamic global business economy. First, there are “balloons,” which float where the wind takes them. Balloons are PhD’s, thinkers, researchers, professors and innovators. Companies need balloons to push untethered innovation. The spirit of balloons is captured in Sierra’s mission statement of leadership in QD PICS.  I = innovation and creativity. The spirit of innovation and creativity at Sierra make it a balloon.

But there are three other types of organizations and people that need to be compared and contrasted to complete this picture.  Matt Olin, President of Sierra talks about them. Enjoy the video…

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The Frank Mango Story, Leveraging Online Sales!

Building on Matt’s message, you are the captain of your personal JET. Your product knowledge, personality, motivation and industry expertise are always the glue that tethers you to your customers and closes deals. Take the following story for example. These types of stories are happening every day at Sierra, and they not only build your reputation for responsiveness, but they make you money.

The Frank Mango Story: Believe it or not, some customers do think about flow meters on the weekends…some late at night. Frank Mango, CEO & Founder of Petroleum Habitats, an R&D start-up, was just this type of customer. He needed a mass flow meter, so he did what all of us would do, he Googled ‘mass flow meter’, and due to Sierra’s major push into SEO (Search Engine Optimization) over the last several years, found our online store immediately.

Frank ordered an in-stock Sierra Top-Trak 822 (there were 12 available at the time) at 11:17pm on a Sunday night, got his order acknowledgment immediately, shipping confirmation the next morning, and received the unit days later. And Omicron, our sales representative in Texas, received full commission on the order.

Mango said later, “Great selection. I found what I needed fast and it arrived in a few days. What more can I ask for.”

We built our online sales platform for the segment of customers like Frank Mango, to help reach any and all customers, especially the ones who need meters NOW. If managed correctly, Sierra’s online platform can help you be more of a JET– reach prospects with minimal effort, increase your customer service, and give you a 24/7 salesperson to close more deals.

4 Ways to Harness Online Sales to BE A JET:

1. Harness Sierra’s online sales platform to increase your responsiveness advantage: Don’t lose potential customers to aggressive catalogue houses. Send your prospect a link to our online in-stock products.

2. Improve time management: Spend your valuable time on the many customers who require your expertise. Utilize our online platform to service customers who are comfortable with the internet, ordering online and can self-specify. Use the online sales configurator to guide these lower volume customers to purchase online. Your internet savvy customer will be happy and you will save time on paperwork. No more ADS sheets to fill out.

3. Fast, real-time communication makes your customers feel good, so you look good: All customer communications for an online order are real-time, electronic, and accurate, so you don’t have to call the factory and waste time tracking orders. The moment an order is submitted, customers get an email confirmation and within moments of shipment, a shipping confirmation email with FedEx tracking number and shipment data is sent. You are copied on all communications.

4. Easily acquire new customers: 95% of our current online orders have come from new-to-Sierra customers, which become your new customers. Reach out to all online customers for up-selling, selling other lines, and building your customer list.

Paul’s Selling Tips!

Listen to Paul de Waal, Managing Director of Sierra Europe, as he discusses the world of flow. Topics include: finding profitable applications, online sales, growth markets, market size evaluations and the advantages of Smart-Trak Compod. Paul’s Selling Secrets

Listen to this interesting and educational discussion with one of Sierra’s best.

Questions–email podcast@sierrainstruments.com

Web Research, SierraWiki Open Up Bioreactor Market, Deliver Sales

As you well know, not all sales orders just fall into our lap.  Most have a history and are the result of the personal initiative and hard work of effective sales people. Walewijn van der Weegen, a top performer at ABT, our distributor in the Netherlands, is a great example.

Inspired by an article he read while doing market research on www.sierrawiki.com about a company called Applicon, a Bioreactor manufacturer, Walewijn went searching for Biochemical companies in the Netherlands. He started by Googling “Biological Systems” and the top result was www.koppert.nl

He discovered the following: “Koppert is the international market leader in the field of biological crop protection and natural pollination. Koppert has an international reputation for reliability, innovation and quality. The ongoing research and continuous production of beneficial pollinators contribute to the development of sustainable agriculture and horticulture world-wide. An important characteristic of Koppert is their involvement in the everyday world of agricultural businesses. ‘Quality’ means that biological systems do what is important: protect the crop without unnecessary problems and minimum chemical corrections. Growing a product that can meet the standards of your partners in the chain.”

Like most highly successful companies, Koppert is global. They’ve got offices and production facilities all over the world. Their website says: “Koppert’s principal place of business in the Netherlands has been active since 1967, 250 people are employed in production, sales, logistics, consultancy and research. Koppert also has several subsidiaries for sales and/or production.”

The lesson learned here is that www.sierrawiki.com is a treasure trove of information. Through web research on an application he discovered on SierraWiki, he located the office in his area, gave them a call, and found out that they had a production department. He called, asked to talk to the Head of Engineering, explained Sierra’s success in similar applications, and the rest is history. Is there a Koppert branch or another company making Biological Systems near you? Koppert’s profile can be found on the the Sierra www.sierrawiki.com website.  If you contact them, please update the information on that wiki, so that other Reps and Distributors can benefit.

More About the Koppert Application…

A fundamental part of manufacturing biological crop protection products includes growing special funguses and micro-organisms in a bioreactor. It is like a small farm where you provide animals with the best environment for reproduction. By monitoring the temperature and mass air flow into the reactor, they are able to make necessary adjustments to assure optimum development of the population.

The reactor must constantly be pressurized to prevent contamination of the population by bacteria or other micro-organisms. That is the second task of the air mass flow controller in this 24/7 process. Each batch requires a different period of time, varying from 3 days to 3 weeks. After this period, the contents is transferred to a larger reactor and the same process starts all over again. This reactor can produce up to 40,000 litres of biochemical pesticide. Oxygen availability of all components in the system during this part of the process is extremely critical. In the event that the airflow stops, the population can die or get contaminated and up to 9 weeks of work can be lost within an hour.

Koppert had been purchasing their reactors from China. Unfortunately the reactor’s air control systems were not meeting their high standards. Koppert was in the process of planning to upgrade their systems when Walewijn called, got a better understanding of their needs and recommended the Sierra Smart-Trak 100 Series with Compod.

The system is fully computer controlled and all measured data is collected. The Sierra 100 Series units were set up to fully communicate with the Modbus system. This made the installation, wiring, etc. simple and straight forward. By the time Koppert expanded their system, Sierra had released the Smart-Trak 50, a more economical version of the Smart-Trak 100. When Koppert experienced a budget cut, the 50 Series became the ideal solution. On their two large reactors, Koppert now uses a Sierra Model 780S units in combination with a Bürkert valve to control the airflow. As the company grows, they intend to purchase more Sierra units for their reactors.

Glen’s Selling Secrets

Listen to an interview with Glen Coblentz, Sierra’s VP of Sales North America focussing on a few practical selling tips.  The interview discusses advantages of Sierra’s new online sales capability and expands on the powerful benefits of Sierra’s leading products.

Glen’s Selling Secrets

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Sierra Clearly Differentiates Through Accuracy & 4:1 Primary Standards

Use our stand against accuracy specsmanship games and our 4:1 primary standard calibration practices to your advantage in your next competitive situation.

Among our scientific instrument competitors, namely those that compete with the 100 Series, 800 Series and 50 Series, we have seen a great deal of discussion about accuracy and a great deal of “specsmanship” in the industry. Customers are generally confused as to what an accuracy statement really means to them. Accuracy goes far beyond a simple statement on a spec sheet where one competitor’s number is better than the other. Sierra’s firm stance on accuracy statements is no specsmanship, be honest and conservative, and back specs up with testing data and world class calibration equipment and methodology.

First, we want to remind you that our industry-leading Smart-Trak® 2 is available with improved calibration accuracies. When accuracy is critical,  your customers have a choice of the standard +/- 1% of full scale using our innovative Dial-A-Gas® Technology  or our premium A1 accuracy spec using actual gas calibration for accuracy of +/- 0.5% of full scale (available in the Smart-Trak 2 price list as the A1 option). A Smart-Trak® 2 with a premium A1 calibration is one of the most precise mass flow controllers on the market, because its design was focused on getting the physics correct. Excellent stability and performance results from a patented, inherently linear Laminar Flow Element (LFE) design, advanced Capillary Tube Platinum Sensor technology, a proprietary Frictionless-Hovering control valve and 4:1 Primary Standard Calibration.

Instrument design is only half the battle. Our philosophy is that the purpose of a flow meter is to transport excellent calibration accuracy to the field, thus providing the most accurate flow measurement information to the end user. In the case of an MFC, excellent calibration also means accurate flow control.  As a result, the accuracy of information provided by our flow meter to the customer depends a great deal on its calibration. Sierra maintains nearly 40 primary standard piston prover calibration systems worldwide.  Each and every capillary thermal instrument we manufacture (100 Series, 50 Series, 800 Series) is calibrated on a NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) traceable primary standard (our proprietary Sierra Cal=Bench® Piston Prover as well as our Cal=Trak product) with strict adherence to the 4:1 rule.

So, what is the 4:1 rule? You may not have heard of it because our competition prefers it that way. Sierra maintains the ISO 17025 mandated 4:1 ratio of propagated transducer uncertainties at every calibration step. What this means is that in a calibration accuracy propagation chain, the subject mass flow meter or controller device under test (DUT) can only be calibrated by a “standard ” that itself has an accuracy approaching one-fourth that of the DUT. This level of commitment to flow measurement accuracy requires that Sierra uses only primary standard piston provers with better than +/-0.2% accuracy.  Many of Sierra’s provers, especially those designated for the Smart-Trak 2 premium accuracy calibrations, (the A1 option) are better than +/- 0.125% accuracy.

All piston provers at Sierra are themselves calibrated using NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) traceable measurements of every parameter involved. Sierra does this in order to drive the initial uncertainties to the lowest possible level. As a result, this allows Sierra to claim (and prove) our standard Smart-Trak 2 accuracy statement of +/- 1% of full scale and A1 premium actual gas calibration accuracy of +/- 0.5% of full scale.

What makes “Primary Standard” calibration so much better than “Transfer Standard” calibration?  A primary gas flow standard uses only units of volume, which can be broken down into length and time to measure flow. Since both length and time are clearly defined by international standards, these are called primary measurement units. Sierra’s Cal=Bench piston prover uses a tube of fixed volume and measures the rise time of a piston inside the tube to determine the volumetric flow rate. By adding highly accurate temperature and pressure measurement, mass flow rate is obtained.  Many competitors use transfer standards as a calibration device–typically another flow meter of higher accuracy than the DUT. A transfer standard is typically a 2:1 device with accuracy only twice as good as the DUT.  And by definition, transfer standards are NOT based on primary units of measure, thus they can never be called primary.

Since many competitors, like Brooks, use transfer standards (i.e. Molbloc), as a calibration device, they must rely on specsmanship.  Misleading accuracy statements from the competition are in small print next to their accuracy number. Misleading statements may read, +/-1.0% of Full Scale (at calibration conditions).  This means that the supplier only claims the accuracy while it is in their calibration lab and on their standard, not while in the field in the actual application.  Other examples of misleading statements sre: “at operating conditions” or “at laboratory conditions.” These companies clearly do not follow the 4:1 rule. Once the instrument goes into the field, the accuracy specification is in question, and more importantly, the information the flow meter provides can be less dependable.

Sierra wins a lot of business because we do not make “at operating conditions’ type statements in our specs. Use our stand against accuracy specsmanship games and our 4:1 primary standard calibration practices to your advantage in your next competitive situation.

Sierra Teamwork Heroes

As a long-time Sierra customer, FSI International , located in Minneapolis, MN, has focused on delivering semiconductor wafer cleaning products and processes that enable IC manufacturers to meet their cost, yield and device performance goals.  In a fascinating application, the Sierra Side-Trak 840H is used to control an argon carrier gas. The gas then carries frozen Argon crystals across the surface of a silicon wafer, effectively “sand blasting” contaminants away with the added benefit that the crystals then sublime into Argon gas.

John Smitherman

Terry Johnson


Last quarter, FSI found the increasing flows demanded by larger wafers caused oscillation in the valve of the 840H. As a result, the valve exhibited limited control, or would fail prematurely. For this long-standing Sierra customer, the Sierra engineering team, led by Chief Engineer John Smitherman, joined by our rep partner Terry Johnson of  Berg-Johnson Associates, immediately began searching for a solution. After several site visits and numerous conference calls and brainstorming sessions, the valve problem was found to be a combination of variables inherent in the system (very high flow at very low pressure), as well as a (vertical mount) 90 degree shift in the orientation of the flow controller.

To solve the problem, the team redesigned the 840H valve block so that the valve is oriented vertically with regard to gravity. This so called ‘L’ block design allowed FSI to retrofit their cabinets with updated units with no re-engineering of their system, extending the life of their product, and allowing for continued use of the Sierra 840H.

Success stories like this happen every day at Sierra.  We would like to thank all the “Teamwork Hero’s” involved in this great example of Sierra’s Passion For Flow!