As we continue to do sales for companies on a daily basis, the shift over the years as to what influences a sale, where a prospect goes for information or supplier qualification; even how to find information on a prospect and contact them has changed considerably. As an industrial or manufacturing company in a competitive global market, you need to evolve with the times or else you risk getting left behind.
People still tell me today that their business is relationship oriented and based on old person to person contacts and so there isn’t really the need. Reality is that your purchasing audience is changing and the people who have been buying from you for the last 20 years are retiring. The individuals taking over their roles don’t care about your old relationship necessarily. These individuals interact, communicate and digest information differently and to be successful you need to be able to not only cater to your existing, mature clients but your new, younger ones.
In many cases, smaller firms that have done business based on relationships have been amalgamated into larger global organizations that are more centralized, and previous relationships, no matter how old or fruitful, simply don’t carry the same weight.
To continue to sell effectively today and in the future you need to focus on growing sales through:
Have a solid, functioning website that is clean and gives prospects a good understanding of who you are, what you do and how you do it. Your contact information must be prominent and easy to find. Having new, relevant content published on your site (like blogs or whitepapers) helps to reinforce your sales messages and establishes you as a thought leader. We recently had a prospect of a client receive our cold call and then circle back to our client’s website before contacting us back. In their response, they mentioned a number of key content pieces from the site and subsequently are interested in a face to face meeting that could lead to a nation-wide deal.
2. Social Media
Use social media for prospecting and account management. I had recently been contacting a particular contact for a few months – using a variety of calls and emails, I finally made the decision to switch when I could not get a response out of this person. Where did I go to find a new contact? Linkedin. Through searching on Linkedin, I was able to identify a new potential target at this company and reach out to them and get a response. This led me to sending additional information via email and then subsequently generating meeting interest. Social media can also allow you, as in the above example, to dig wider into accounts or follow clients and prospects for changes in their business or to their employees that could impact the sales process.
3. Traditional Sales Techniques
Continue to work traditional sales techniques – email, calls and events. For me, this is still a staple of outbound B2B sales efforts. These efforts need to be supported by an active content marketing and inbound lead generation program.
You need to use a CRM. The days of using excel or Outlook to manage your sales activities and even account activities and history are long gone. I know for myself and my team, make hundreds of calls over months, have lots of conversations that require responses and feedback, run sales funnels and plan upcoming outbound efforts. You simply can’t remember all these activities in your head.
5. Sales & Marketing Tools
Look at additional sales and marketing tools to help automate processes. There are a number of tools today that can help to assist with marketing and sales efforts such as Post Beyond, Hootsuite, Moz. Research and look to utilize these tools to support and enrich your online and social activities.
If you are an industrial services or manufacturing firm and in need of outsourced sales and marketing assistance feel free to contact me. I would be happy to see if we can help. Alternatively, if you are simply looking for a source of excellent sales and marketing information, please feel free to sign up for our newsletter or follow us on Twitter.