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Can customers direct R&D?

I have been selling GPS collars for almost 20 years and the time finally came that I turn it over to someone else.  We have a very competent young guy from San Jose CA.  He is enthusiastic and unlike me he chooses to keep information in a computer rather than in his head.  But he knows how to find what he needs.  He even incorporates technology into the sales process.  I used to just talk to people on the phone during a sales consultation.

Tiny GPS with remote download

Wildlife GPS collar, 27 grams including remote download

When he took over the sales from me he took inquiries at face value.  For example, ‘Can we buy a GPS that records a position every 2 seconds, weighs 5 grams and lasts for 1 year?”  Oh, toss solar power on there too while you are at it.  Solar, the solution to everything……not.  I quickly explained to him that he needs to concentrate on the most realistic inquiries.  But he wants to please everyone so he kept pushing me for things we cannot do.

I exaggerate slightly, we like to get inquiries that push the boundaries a bit.  Every few months or so we build a GPS for an application never before tried.  One example was when a snake guy called looking for a python GPS for The Everglades.  I think he has two or three of those now and they do acquire GPS positions even though they are implants.

Our sales person, Anthony, knows that our lightest GPS collar is 31 grams.  But Friday he got off of a call and then came to me requesting a 27 grams GPS collar.  I love his timing too, he normally waits until my hand is on the door knob to go to lunch or something when he starts a major conversation.  I explained to him that we cannot make a GPS collar at 27 grams.  We can make 3 or 4 gram GPS glue on devices but to satisfy the need at hand we would have to build a collar and that weighs 31 grams.  But then I started thinking about it.  I thought I had a way so I told him to call that customer back and suggest that we have an idea.  Today I built it at 24 grams.  Not too bad cutting 7 grams off of a previous best of 31 grams.    For sales purposes I think we will advertise 27 grams, better to deliver more than we promise than the other way around.  The GPS includes remote UHF download capability, is fully user programmable, can have the activity data option enabled as well as the Smart GPS feature without adding weight.

If that customer had not stressed her need for a 27 gram collar I would not have spent my day today working on this project, there certainly is not a shortage of tasks to complete on any given day.  We suspect more weight will be shaved from this device in the coming days.  No compromise in package integrity was made, we just treated took extra time to really watch every little thing we did to the unit.  If you are interested in this or any other product please contact our sales department and remember that just because you did not see it on the website that does not mean that you cannot have it.

Quintin

 


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