In the past, when consumers purchased a Schneider Electric uninterruptible power supply, designed to prevent data loss and hardware damage in the case of a blackout, they usually did so from one of the company's reseller partners. That could easily be the last time the companies ever heard from that customer. When the standard warranties expired, it was often too time-consuming to encourage customers to sign up for an extension.
While many products in this division of the multinational company were sold to enterprises, the smaller home and business clients would only be eligible for "low dollar contracts, where a salesperson picks up the phone and they're already losing money," describes MaintenanceNet's vice president of business development, Shayne Skaff. Knowing that customers would likely purchase extended warranties if they were made available, Schneider Electric looked to MaintenanceNet, a sales lead generation and automation company.
During the initial pilot in June 2013, MaintenanceNet leveraged the CRM data of one of Schneider Electric's partners. MaintenanceNet was able to match point-of-sale information with the reseller's existing customer data. With that information, MaintenanceNet could send emails branded with individual resellers' information to their customers. Included in the offer was a quote for an extended warranty that the customer could click through to purchase.
For many customers, it was the first time they were given the offer. "[We've] done extensive market research around that topic," Schneider Electric's director of national channel service sales and marketing, Shannon Talbert, reports. "One of the key findings was that the number-one reason [customers haven't] purchased an extended warranty or a service contract from us was simply [that] they were never asked, and they didn't think on their own to take that action," she relays. The emails weren't seen as an annoyance, but as an opportunity for customers and Schneider Electric alike.
MaintenanceNet was able to provide a service that Schneider Electric had tried before on its own, with limited success. "Historically it's been a very manual process. We've had to depend really heavily on our reseller partners. We would need to have someone look the information up, and try to connect the information. We weren't always successful in those efforts," Talbert remembers.
In just the three months that the initial pilot program was in place, promising results were seen. Since MaintenanceNet was brought in, there has been a 72 percent increase in warranty extensions year-over-year. Warranty extension sales went up 27 percent in July and 40 percent in August. The results fit into Schneider's business priorities of efficiency and utilization. "We're considered a specialist in energy management, and we're always looking for efficiencies," Talbert says. Data about the performance across customer and product segments "opened our eyes to the breadth and depth about where this project might be successful outside of where we initially thought."
Since Schneider Electric resells through individual channel partners, the partnership with MaintenanceNet was one way to bring consistency into the sales process. "Salespeople focus on the top end of the pyramid. They're paid on gross profit or gross revenue, and they'll look at the big dollar stuff. It's not something that's top of mind, and it's not something that ever will be," Skaff says. The logic of an individual doesn't hold true for the organization as a whole. "If you look at the volume across the entire channel, the missed service opportunities represent millions," Skaff observes.
After the initial pilot, Schneider Electric is expanding the service to include additional channel partners. "We're going to go global next," Skaff says. "Right now we're just in the U.S., and then we'll start to expand into other product lines."
For Schneider Electric, the project has taken little effort. The company offers input on the warranty extension campaigns, while MaintenanceNet helps design and execute them. Talbert sums up the value for Schneider Electric: "MaintenanceNet can specialize in data management and bringing all of our data sources together, and we're able to focus on our core business."
- Since using MaintenanceNet to automate warranty sales, Schneider Electric has:
- increased extensions 72 percent year-over-year during the three-month pilot period;
- seen monthly sales increase 27 percent in July 2013 and 40 percent in August 2013; and
- gained insights about customer strategies and product lines.