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Common Sales Issues in Manufacturing – Part 4: Customer Strategy

Shifting focus from internal to external.

We’ve talked about internal issues that a lot of companies need to resolve. It’s now time to talk about external factors.

Moving into customer strategy, like we’ve mentioned before, the strategy needs to shift from reactive to proactive. Companies need to turn their focus outward instead of wait for customers to seek them out. Customer strategy spans from strategic account plans, market research and customer profiles, to expansion plans, reviewing on-boarding processes and encouraging customer collaboration.

We’ve found that many companies haven’t placed enough emphasis on building and executing account plans for strategic and high growth potential clients. Having the proper metrics in place and ensuring they are used regularly will allow you to keep tabs on accounts and their respective growth. We’ve talked about leveraging current customers here. Essentially, like we’ve said before, this means understanding your customers and the problems they face so you can make recommendations and develop strategies that are mutually beneficial. Consider your on-boarding process when signing a new distributor, reseller or sales agent. Do you have a plan for them and do you outline a path to their success? Do you understand this new customer enough to help them and properly motivate their reps to advocate your solutions? Increasing this customer collaboration goes hand in hand with nurturing a two-way relationship with clients.

Continuing with external focus, companies can develop growth through new business. Developing plans for expansion into new territories and markets is important. With this, make sure your team fully understands your goals in terms of expansion and make sure this goes back to understanding lead qualification and corporate goals as a whole. For this, creating a profile defining an ideal customer sets a standard to which you can compare potential leads, going back to efficient lead qualification.

It’s important to acknowledge the role that market research plays in understanding the environment. Information from this provides insights into your customer, identify opportunities to grow, helps to recognize shifts in your industry and the economy, monitor competitors and generally mitigate risks.

Sales is not just a numbers game.

You’ve heard the saying “Sales is a number game”.  Certainly there are elements of truth to this saying but it’s of course oversimplified. Instead, we encourage people to think of Sales as an optimal job for people who like to think. Understanding your clients, their company and their challenges are key to creating a plan to maximize your value to each one.  Sales will go up as a result. 

If you need help because you are too busy or don’t know how to get started, consider a hiring an outside source that you trust and is proven. We love to help manufacturing companies transition into the next phase of selling in our rapidly changing world.