In the past, resellers have tended to view UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) with trepidation and the perception that only larger solutions are of higher sales value.
The larger the solution, however, the more complicated it will be, which is especially true if the skill and cost of additional contractors, such as electrical engineers and specialist logistics companies, is factored in.
I would argue that that perception, today, is fatally flawed, particularly in light of new market potential for UPS, increasing interest in business continuity and reliance on 24/7 operating environments. If they are to tap into the new opportunity of the UPS sale, resellers have to change the way they view the subject.
Now that overall sales of UPS are growing at an average of 30% per annum, resellers are being forced to face their fears about power protection.
Selling customers a UPS system is to sell it short. But sell them power continuity and they understand immediately the impact on their business.
Customer interest in business continuity is rising in line with reliance on 24/7 environments. They are only too aware of the increased risk of power problems and a growing need for continuous operation pushes it even further up the agenda.
Of course, there is a fine balance between going the extra mile for customers and making a profit and sometimes in the past it has been hard to distinguish - given the small margins reseller struggle with.
But care also has to be taken to avoid viewing UPS as essentially a battery with electronics that sits in parallel to the mains power supply. Reliable power protection comprises far more than that and not all UPS are alike. It is a mistake to supply the lowest-priced product available rather than one correctly specified, sized and installed for a particular operation. And thats where the expertise comes in. But it doesnt necessarily have to be bought in to assist with the sale.
Some UPS manufacturers are geared more towards demystifying the subject and the sales process for reseller and providing support mechanisms such as surveys, training and online portals with all sorts of useful content. With this support, the sales process is no different whether its a 1kVA UPS or a 100kVA solution, other than in terms of scale that is.
For UPS that plug directly into the nearest wall socket, the sale is a relatively simple one but larger solutions (above 4kVA) need to be hardwired. This requires consideration to be given to the local electricity supply and may also require the services of an electrical engineer who is also a UPS specialist. Invariably it necessitates working in partnership with a recognised OEM manufacturer.
In this case the UPS sale starts with a site survey to assess criterion that will determine the type, size and scale of installation. It also determines any logistical problems associated with the physical installation. An inspection of wiring, particularly in older buildings, will unearth problem areas as will thermal imaging of suspected hot spots and the deployment of on-site data collection devices for mains, power usage, load sizing and harmonics. The electrical supplies within a UPS interact with those already on-site and are susceptible to the vagaries and idiosyncrasies of that equipment. A UPS and generator can be installed anywhere within the electricity distribution system but it is worth ensuring that system is safe and complies with current regulatory standards.
The majority of value-add options for UPS resellers arise during the sales process. These include extended runtime, remote monitoring and maintenance packages.
Many UPS customers these days are looking to extend runtime beyond the limits of the units internal battery to enhance business continuity plans. For the reseller this may involve adding battery packs, installing external bypasses and providing remote monitoring depending upon the level of resilience sought.
A maintenance contract is a way for resellers to secure annual revenue, post sale. It also provides the site with the comfort of knowing that someone is taking responsibility for UPS maintenance, which includes an annual inspection and guaranteed response time in the event of a breakdown or malfunction. Maintenance contracts are usually bolstered by preventative site visits and 24/7 remote monitoring for faults or alarm conditions.
Get this right and you will end up building longer and more profitable relationships with customers. Power continuity is by no means a quick sale but it offers opportunities to add value and provide a better service for the customer and thus give them peace of mind which is something most people are willing to pay for!