I have some very good relationships with a number of manufacturers across the United States. Over the years, I’ve noticed one recurring event which seems to play out, time, and time again. I’ve noticed that they all rely very heavily on a “boots on the ground” approach to generating new business. When they want to grow their company, they turn to their sales teams and ask them to bring in larger accounts and more of them for their company to service. To help their sales team, they supply them with cold-call lists (based on SIC codes) and they also send them to trade shows all over the country. Neither of these tactics works very well because they lack strategy.
When Business Is Down, Management Looks At Their Sales Teams.
They scrutinize their salespeople’s daily activities and lack of work ethic. Management quickly comes to the decision that the poor overall sales numbers mean that somehow their organization has become infested with poor quality salespeople. Normally, management focuses their indignation on one or two salespeople that haven’t posted good years. In short, salespeople are never able to generate enough business to make management happy.
Should I Continue To Hire New Sales People?
In order to solve the problem of having “poor quality” salespeople in their workforce, management tells HR to hire more salespeople. The instructions that they give are simple, hire more salespeople to replace the two that we just let go, and this time make sure that they are good (as if they had knowingly hired bad salespeople the last time). This approach locks themselves into a repeating cycle of hiring and then firing salespeople on about a three to a four-year cycle.
In my opinion, the over-dependence on hiring new salespeople as a way to grow your business, using cold-call lists, and attending trade shows will undoubtedly fail to work. This is because, over the past 20 years, the world we live in has changed. The way customers buy services has changed, and, not to put it too bluntly, the only people that haven’t changed, are my friends in the manufacturing world.
There Is A Solution.
The solution is one in which sales teams are given quality leads to close, and customers guide themselves into, and through, your sales funnel. In this solution, cold-call lists go away, and your company transforms it’s outward appearance into something which customers are eager to engage with. In this solution, salespeople are transformed from poor quality lead-generators, into deal closers. The solution is called “Inbound Marketing”.
Inbound marketing is a transformational new approach to attracting customers. In the “inbound methodology”, companies freely give their customers the information they seek. Companies start listening to their customer's questions and problems and start disseminating quality content which helps solve those problems. Marketing shifts from “buy my production because…”, to “let me help you solve a problem”.
Most manufacturing companies are good at providing the basic specs of their products but rarely go deeper to create the content that procurement managers need. Think about the content that your company is currently providing. For most of it your sales team is still the gatekeeper. Furthermore, what you do give away doesn’t actually answer the real-world problems and questions your buyers have. Most likely, it’s a boilerplate company brochure or stale product catalogs. On top of it all, your website is just a digital version of your print brochures so there is no further information to be gleaned from a visit.
Inbound marketing makes you different, more approachable, and widens to top of your sales funnel! With inbound marketing, you will be able to transform your company from a lead starved, and buyer-beware company, into a lead rich and buyer-centric organization.
Here Are A Few Reasons Why Inbound Marketing Works!
- Your best prospects are online looking for solutions to their problems. They are spending over 80% of their buying cycle researching BEFORE contacting you.
- Your best prospects are selectively engaging in social media and soliciting opinions and reviews about where to do business. All without your presence or input.
- Your best prospects are taking their time researching who to purchase from. The fact is that more consideration time that it takes to make a purchase, the better inbound marketing works! This is because the more research someone does, the more opportunity you have to present relevant information and grow your credibility.
- Your best prospects can come from existing customers that are happy with your services.
- Inbound makes all of your other marketing efforts more effective. This includes the efforts of your existing sales team!
Consider These Three Simple Questions.
What will happen to you when a competitor rolls out an inbound marketing campaign?
What if they saturate the market with great information that your customers are looking for?
What will happen to you?
If you'd like to learn more about how IQnection can help your manufacturing business implement these strategies and more, check out our upcoming webinar.