Founded in 1999 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Vacuworx engineers and manufactures innovative heavy-duty vacuum lifting systems. The organization pioneered self-contained vacuum lifting technology for material handling in the oil and gas industry. Now they are introducing the benefits of vacuum lifting to new markets such as water and sewer, highway and heavy construction and concrete construction. Vacuworx maintains inventory available for purchase or rental around the world. The company uses a hybrid model for sales including both direct-to-consumer and a growing dealer network.
In 2016, Vacuworx introduced a new line of Compact Equipment Attachments for construction markets. Their “core” vacuum lifting systems for pipelines already enjoy strong brand recognition and established distribution channels, including dealers and direct sales. However, the team quickly realized that to effectively build their presence in construction markets, dealers would need to play a much more prominent role.
In addition, the process of introducing vacuum lifting for new applications requires a considerable amount of education. Since the technology is virtually unknown in the construction market, Vacuworx had to find a way to not only explain how their products can help contractors work more safely and efficiently, but also “prove” how the concept works through photos and videos.
Vacuworx began using Modus as an off-the-shelf product for its direct sales team. The ability to “demonstrate” a wide variety of applications directly from the app on their phones was game-changer. The marketing team provided sales with recurring training and helpful hints to encourage use of the app. Adoption of the new system was relatively fast as the team realized how much more effective their sales conversations could be by showing Vacuworx systems working with materials and in situations that were familiar to potential customers.
Email follow ups soon replaced printed flyers, which helped bring material costs down. In fact, the savings from print more than paid for the first year of using the app. In addition, the ability to see when recipients viewed the files became an important feature for reps as they planned their next contact. Paula Bell, Director of Marketing for Vacuworx says, “Emailing videos doesn’t work due to file size. Modus makes it easy to send links for photos, videos and even flyers, and the reps get the added bonus of seeing when customers view them so they know when to follow up.”
In fall of 2019, Vacuworx made the decision to build out a custom app—which they named the VacuAPP—to expand the use of Modus to their dealers. They began the introduction in January 2020. Dealer sales reps have been quick to adopt the app because it increases their confidence and makes the sales conversation easier since they have everything they need to promote the product and show how it can work for their customer on their phone. “Most of our dealers make their money on sales of bigger equipment, which is their main focus. But they care about Vacuworx because with our products they are able to offer their customers something unique to do their job better and safer,” says Bell. “It’s up to us to find ways to be top of mind and help them tell our story.”
When asked what’s next with Modus, Bell says that using push notifications to both their direct sales team and dealers will allow Vacuworx to make sure reps on the front lines always have the most current information. “The key is providing useful information that the reps want to receive. Modus gives us a way to be in the salesperson’s pocket.”
Bell says they are also starting to use the new Microlearning feature. Vacuworx just introduced two new products and plan to use learning modules to introduce them to the dealer reps and help them learn to ask the right questions to make sure they are promoting the right products to a customer.
Analytics will also help their sales reps have better conversations with their dealers and support their efforts. If Vacuworx sees one dealer’s reps sharing a lot of information about a specific product, but not selling it, they can step in and offer to help. Or they can show a dealer how one of their reps is sharing information and selling more of a product than the reps who aren’t using the app.
“The business value of Modus is the ability to really be able to show our customers something that relates to their world in real-time and help them connect the dots,” says Bell. “Literature doesn’t do the same thing. We couldn’t afford to print all the literature that shows them every example of what our lifters can do. With Modus, we don’t have to.”