B2B Industrial sales is one of those areas that, though it may lack attention, is literally everywhere. Think about it… it could be the systems being sold to municipalities to reline their sewers, or the person selling tools to repair shops. However, at the heart of each of these transactions the same methodologies to drive sales success apply.
We’ve worked with a variety of B2B industrial sales clients and have helped them sell and market more effectively. The products and services we have worked with range from oil and gas safety and rescue services to truck rentals and leasing to commercial coatings. To drive success when it comes to B2B industrial sales, there are a few key factors to focus on:
Be specific on your Target Market
Many industrial products by their nature are sector specific, so zero in on your best target accounts and contacts. We find that focusing on only a few verticals is the best strategy and leads to the greatest chance of success in the industrial sales arena.
By narrowing your focus you are able to tailor your messaging, pitch and value proposition, and are able to dig deep into your prospect to really understand their business pains in their vertical. Once you build a beachhead up in one particular market, you can then more easily attack a new, perhaps similar, target market. I find sales to be like a flywheel: it takes significant effort to get it rolling but once it’s moving it spins faster and faster and drives better and better results.
Anyone who is successful in sales knows that persistence is key. C-Level contacts, or even director and manager level contacts, are often very busy and difficult to get a hold of on a good day. Oftentimes it takes multiple attempts via email, phone, InMail or conversations at events to have a meaningful interaction with these contacts. Most (ineffective) sales people give up after 1 or 2 attempts. Successful sales people, particularly if the fit is right, will persevere and make 8 to 13 touches to reach a close.
Following persistence is patience. From my experience, the sales process can range in length typically from 6 to 9 months or even 12 to 24 months depending on the product or service being sold: if the government is involved, the sales process can take much longer. I remember a situation where we were working for an industrial coatings company and after the first day of cold calling we had a lead. That lead from the day they expressed interest to the day of closing took 9 months. For another firm we work for, after doing cold calls for a few days, we had a few qualified leads and were closing business within 2 months. In one instance, we were bidding on work that was north of $2.5 million dollars: just to see it to the end took almost 2 years.
Industrial services are typically sold to a very specific client, and the more expensive the offered product or service is, the longer it will take to close a sale. It might take a while, but be patient and keep working with the lead.
Use Social Media
There is a slower uptake with the use of social media in the B2B industrial services market, but it is happening. As older workers retire and are replaced by younger employees, you will need to be active on these platforms: this is a key resource for the under 30 demographic. We have found that leveraging social platforms like LinkedIn are the most rewarding for B2B industrial sales from a lead perspective. LinkedIn allows you to do research on specific job titles in specific companies or industries and focus in on the key target contacts. These platforms also have messaging capabilities and in many cases the response rates are better through there than traditional outbound email campaigns.
Another aspect that is important is sharing information your company is posting on social media with your own audience. Social media is viral in nature and what you share in your own feeds can be seen by your connections: share a company update or new product offering and you will be able to reach a large number of connections, and be on top of their mind when you can solve one of their business problems.
Use Content Marketing
For us, content marketing is all about generating inbound leads. We believe that even more traditional firms with industrial products or services should be developing and executing a content marketing program on a regular basis to drive search engine results and leads.
There is a wide variety of content that can written and shared on your company’s social media – the key is to create information that is relevant to your target audience. If you are in the HVAC business, posting information about the lunch you had on the company LinkedIn page and Twitter account is something you should not do. Rather, the posts you share and content you write should matter to your key targets. In addition, content should be written with a focus on SEO so that it can be found through search engines: conduct some keyword planning to know what your prospects are googling and how you can show up in those results page.
Go to Events Where Applicable
Given how inundated people are electronically, there is a case to be made where attending events makes a great deal of sense. Events with a targeted group of attendees can be a good source of leads, a way to meet new prospects and a way to secure meetings with existing leads in your sales funnel. The key is to prep for the event and ensure you set goals for yourself. When I speak about goals I mean meetings booked for during the event with current prospects or clients, and then new leads generated while attending the event.
If you’re looking for tips on how to improve your B2B sales lead generation efforts or are considering outsourcing your B2B sales and marketing, please don’t hesitate to contact us. For great insight into startup sales and marketing, feel free to sign up for our newsletter or follow us on Twitter.
This article was first published last February 2018 and has since been updated.