We’re often approached by manufacturing companies to help with auditing and fine tuning their sales program. In this 4 part article series, we explore common sales issues in manufacturing that we’ve seen time and time again – we hope you find it useful. Selling today is different than it was a decade ago and many manufacturing companies struggle to adapt. Why are sales methods that were once successful no longer working? What can be done to resolve these problems 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.
Sales Issues in Manufacturing
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 potential customers know and need, and then provide consulting and coaching through their buying process. Understanding 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 manufacturing sales framework to better reflect this new buyer profile. That means becoming more responsive to customer needs. It also means becoming a trusted resource for information and support which ultimately builds better relationships beyond the transactional sale. Simply put: sales needs to place focus on helping and understanding the customer instead of concentrating on order fulfillment.
Part of this new framework includes:
- Being digitally current – effectively utilize new technologies (CRMs, SaaS solutions, order management solutions, digital marketing, online catalogs, etc.)
- Providing updated and effective sales & marketing strategies/collateral
- Supporting internal and external teams with current product and sales strategy training
- 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?
- Don’t rely heavily on inbound orders. Be proactive in helping your customers.
- Be knowledgeable. Know your products. Know your customer, their pains, their business, their stakeholders desires and the landscape surrounding their business.
- 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.
Read the next article in this series: Sales Team Management