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Common Sales Issues in Manufacturing – Part 1

The Evolution of the Sales Cycle

At SalesEvolve, we frequently work with manufacturing companies. In today’s world, many are faced with the challenges of a changing sales landscape. How does a business adapt to selling in a new world? Why are sales methodologies that were once successful no longer working well? What can be done to resolve these issues while minimizing disruption to the organization’s bottom line? Before reading on, please understand something.  There is no one-size-fits-all strategy.  However, there are commonalities that we can all learn from.

The sales cycle has changed. According to a CEB Global study of 1400 B2B customers, prospective clients are significantly more informed and are already 57% through the sales cycle prior to contacting a sales rep. There are typically more people involved in the purchasing decision – 5.4 people on average. This means that a sales rep must focus on understanding what your potential customers know and need, and then provide consulting and coaching through a customer-defined buying process.  Understanding their pain points, what their buying cycle is, who is involved and where they are within it is key.

Manufacturing businesses can adapt to this new environment by developing their sales framework to better reflect this new buyer profile. That means becoming more responsive to customer needs and becoming a trusted resource for information and support to better build relationships that go beyond transactional sales. Simply put: sales needs to strive to help and understand the customer rather than just selling to them.

Part of this new framework includes:

  1. Being digitally current – effectively utilize new technologies (CRMs, SaaS solutions, order management solutions, digital marketing, online catalogs, etc.)
  2. Providing updated and effective sales & marketing strategies/collateral
  3. Supporting internal and external teams with current product and sales strategy training
  4. A focus on relationship building over transactional sales – demonstrate an understanding of their business and help buyers make decisions that help them increase their business.

Let’s wrap this up: how do we effectively sell in a new world?

  1. Don’t rely heavily on inbound orders.  Be proactive in helping your customers.
  2. Be knowledgeable. Know your products. Know your customer, their pains, their business, their stakeholders desires and the landscape surrounding their business.
  3. Build relationships – adopt a consultative approach to sales that emphasizes partnering with clients to help them build their business. Become an extension of the customer’s business.

It can be a daunting process to revamp your company’s sales processes and a lot of organizations don’t know where to start. Look for our next post about our observations across manufacturing sales teams for more information or contact us for a helping hand.