Meet Phil Roberts, Laser Lines’ southern region product specialist
Phil talks about his role, and the buzz he gets from developing and maintaining lasting relationships with his clients.
Phil deals with anything and anyone south of the River Thames, from Kent across to Cornwall and all the way along the coast in between. It’s a great part of the country to cover, with a perfect mix of rolling hills, cityscapes and views of the sea.
He has covered his patch for more than a decade, and still gets a buzz from visiting his clients, old and new, to talk to them about the latest developments in 3D printing.
What do you like about Laser Lines?
It’s a great company to work for, and we sell some of the most interesting products going. The rate of change I’ve seen during the time I have been here has been extraordinary, on both the resin- and plastic-based platforms, so the kind of companies I’ve been dealing with has been evolving, too.
One day I might be talking to a motorsport racing team, and the next it could be an aerospace manufacturer or a university. There aren’t many other jobs where you work with such diverse clients.
Why should people choose Laser Lines?
I will never dive straight in and try to sell a 3D printer. A large part of my job is listening and consulting, showing potential clients what a printer could do for them, perhaps taking a sample of their data to build sample parts so they can get a feel for the finished product.
It can sometimes take years for a new customer to decide what’s right for them, but that’s fine. I’m not here to force anyone into making a purchase; it’s much more important that they’re happy with what they’ve bought. A 3D printer isn’t a small investment, after all, and you want to be sure that it’s going to last them for the foreseeable future. The team at Laser Lines has years of experience, making us ideally placed to support the purchase over the long-term.
I don’t just deal with the hardware, though. I often help my clients choose the most appropriate material, as happened recently when I brought along a range of parts in medical- and non-medical-grade materials for a healthcare provider. The client wanted to see what difference the choice would make to its products, and once it has settled on the right material, we could start to talk about which printers the material would work with.
How important are ongoing relationships?
Crucial. Buying a 3D printer isn’t something you do every month, so I’ll be with them each step of the way, making sure they have all the information and samples they need, and that at our end the paperwork is up to date and signed off. I don’t disappear once the printer’s been delivered, either.
The relationships I share with my customers lasts for years. I keep in touch, help with any support issues they may have, and answer any questions that crop up about material, spares and upgrades. As the industry changes so fast, there can be lots of questions, and with so many experienced people here to help at Laser Lines, we are excellently placed to answer them.
What has been the highlight of your time at Laser Lines?
My quickest sale, which was done and dusted in less than five minutes. One of the world’s biggest tech companies rang up for a quote one night as I was on my way home, and bought the printer first thing next morning. That is an anomaly, of course.
I’ve been talking to one of my other clients for seven years and they’re still not ready to commit, but that’s fine; I’m happy to work to their schedule, and I still get a buzz out of talking to them. Often, it’s the slowest sale that gives you the biggest thrill. When a hesitant customer finally feels confident enough to go ahead, you know you have done a good job.
What are you looking forward to?
There’s so much on the horizon, but the range of materials in particular is really growing right now. I know that it’s not only me that’s impressed by how much is changing in the market, either: our customers are talking about it, and they’re excited by all the opportunities that are opening up before them.