By Praveen Nagpal on Jun 10, 2018
Shell Experts come from all different specialisms – but their approach to advising customers always brings together the best from all different areas. This is demonstrated by Praveen Nagpal, a Global Product Application Specialist.
Having recently celebrated a decade with Shell, Nagpal’s experience runs the gamut from technical manager in the power sector, via marine and into product applications for power engines. Now he is focusing his energies on demonstrating growth opportunities, particularly in developing markets.
“My job has never just been about technical knowledge. It’s about developing solutions…where Shell is successful is in creating customer value propositions that have a commercial focus.”
Nagpal’s work in developing markets shows just how many factors he has to consider when advising clients. “The key element is ‘are we a really reliable supplier with global reach’? We need to make sure logistics are in place for supply security in markets that are mostly driven by joint ventures (JV) or macro distributors (MD).”
Supply logistics may be a challenge particular to developing markets but Nagpal believes a global view of customer concerns is central to Shell’s successful client partnerships.
Putting himself in customers’ shoes
With a remit stretching from engine servicing procedures to reducing operating life-cycle cost and even partner revenue generation, Shell experts like Nagpal really need to understand individual client pressures.
“We work together with customers to really dig down into finding their best practices, bearing in mind all the variables that impact their day-to-day operations. When it’s going well, we’re working to improve the operating life-cycle cost. When there’s a problem, we start a joint investigation. How do we help them put measures in place so it doesn’t happen again?”
For those thinking that a Shell expert would parachute in, make some suggestions and leave, think again. Nagpal insists that they are on the ground and involved for as long as it takes:
“If it’s only a water leak and we can figure out where it’s coming from, the investigation might only take a couple of days. On the other hand, something like a bearing failure needs a lot of exploration. It can take anything up to a month to complete.”
Avoiding false economies
Of course, prevention is better than cure and Nagpal states that the greatest value he can bring to a customer is his expertise in weeding out the causes of unplanned stoppages. It’s a particularly important point when it comes to the premium/economy oil price debate, and how it figures into life-cycle costing.
Nagpal acknowledges that customers are hard-wired to seek out the cheapest deal. It’s his job to explain the real ‘cost’ of the oil they buy, something that might not be apparent for months or even years down the line.
High failure rates mean more oil changes and more unplanned stoppages. That sort of failure costs millions of dollars. Customers have gradually realised that going for cheaper oil has never been a good solution.
Nagpal has discovered that customers who work with suppliers as partners are more likely to choose premium quality oils. However, customers with a more ‘shopper’ mentality have no relationship with their provider beyond a transaction.
Is this because partners just have a better sales technique? Or could there be more to it?
“The primary objective of customers looking for reliable oil partners is always the operating life-cycle cost. When they go for a premium product, they’re calculating the lubricant price, the cost of spare parts and their profitability. We give them credible evidence that premium lubricant will lower their operating life-cycle cost. They clearly understand the value Shell’s expertise is delivering.”