Increasing sales is a top priority for any business, right? Well, the manufacturing business is no different. However, you’d be surprised at how many businesses are making it far too complicated for themselves and aren’t taking advantage of the readily available low-hanging fruit.
A very good salesman may be able to scrape you through a poor sales strategy - but that’s not sustainable. And it’s certainly not the best way to operate as a business. Quite simply, you won’t grow like that and the process is far from scalable. Sometimes, the way you do things can really hold back your potential - and that’s not just in sales either.
Don’t worry if you’re not sure where to start, we understand that it can be a little overwhelming. This post will outline six easily actionable tips for you to implement within your manufacturing business’ sales process. That way, you can reap the benefits of increased leads, higher conversion rates and improved profitability.
- Develop and “Inbound” sales mindset
- Choose a CRM
- Get to know your buyers
- Start making warm contact
- Develop content for your sales team
- Use your website to sell your business
Develop an ‘Inbound’ sales mindset
Let’s be honest, salespeople have a reputation for being pushy. How many times have you bought something and felt like you were being pressured into it? Like you were another notch on the sales quota? And consider this, have you ever been the person pushing? How do you think the person feels who’s being pressurised?
This is what we call an outbound sales mentality. Pushy, interruptive, and only concerned with making a sale.If you manufacture products, it’s likely you could be suffering from ‘product-focused selling syndrome’.
This is where the salesperson puts the main emphasis on the product over the person buying it. Also, if you lead with a product before you know anything about the person buying it, there’s a good chance you’ll pick the wrong product anyway.
It’s traditional selling. And we think tradition should be broken. Traditions is a method of doing something because that’s how it's always been done. And what’s the point of that?
Inbound is different. Inbound beats tradition because it’s a better way of selling. This is the most significant change you’ll make, and it’s company wide. If you can get everyone to buy-in to this philosophy, you’ve made the initial steps to changing your sales method.
Choose a CRM
If you’re surviving without a CRM, congratulations. We wouldn’t be able to do it. Spreadsheets are backdated, and the world has gone digital. You need to get with the times. There are plenty of CRM systems to choose from, but choice means more confusion - above and beyond the best choice for manufacturers to grow their business is HubSpot.
Image Credit: Hubspot
Here’s how a CRM can transform your sales activity:
- Share crucial information. All departments work better when everyone is informed, but sales even more so. Avoid cross-contact and sales staff getting under each other’s feet by checking prospect progress ad reacting accordingly.
- Track sales deals. Keep track of all the deals you have in your sales pipeline with a deal overview. You can customise the boards to represent your sales strategy, and move deals through the funnel as they progress.
- Generate sales reports with ease. One of the main reasons Sales Managers and Directors struggle to report on ROI is because they don’t have the tools to do it. A CRM will allow you to generate quick, accessible reports that need little explanation.
- Automate your sales process. You can get somebody onto a sales call without even making contact with them. It’s true. Let’s say someone downloads a guide on food manufacturing safety guidelines (exciting, I know), a few days later you automate a follow-up email with a risk assessment template, a few days later, you send them your calendar to book a meeting. Use this with care though, you can end up sounding robotic if there aren’t enough human touch points.
Get to know your buyers
Not knowing your buyers can be a bi-product of product-focused selling. You focus on the product rather than the persona buying it. Also, many manufacturers want to enter new markets. Done right, this method can work, but a lot of businesses focus too much on external factors like the demand for a product or the foreign exchange rate.
You have to remember that internal factors are vital, and the internal factors are the people who are making the decision to buy whatever it is you’re selling. If you can target the right people, you’re more likely to succeed.
How do you get to know customers?
You can do this by creating Buyer Personas, semi-fictional representations of your buyer that you believe are accurate. For example, If you’re a home furniture wholesaler, you may use demographics like house value to determine what ranges are affordable for a particular persona.
If your targeted Buyer Persona is male, their interests could be BBQs and lawnmowers, whereas, a woman might be interested in interior design. It’s up to you to build a solid knowledge base, so you know how to market your products.
Start making warm contact
Who has ever asked to be cold called or receive unsolicited emails? Why would you want to connect with someone you’ve never met when you don’t know where they’ve got your contact information from?
It puts people on the defence instantly. Even if someone buys something from you as a result of cold marketing tactics, they’ll still feel cheated after. Cold contact is "salesy" and will start with a poor sales rep reciting a robotic script constructed by their Sales Manager.
Warm contact means your company has already had some connection with the company before your call. They may have called you, signed up for your newsletter or booked a meeting in your calendar.
To make warm contact, you must have sufficient means of getting people to interact with your business other than a contact form. This means investment into marketing and lead generation tools like social media profiles, downloadable templates and a CRM to gather customer information like email addresses and telephone numbers.
For example, if someone requests a brochure from you which requires an email submission, you automate a response email offering them an exploratory call at their leisure. You add the person on LinkedIn, view their job position and find out a little information.
They don’t respond to the automated email, so you send them an email with another resource explaining you’ll follow up with a call the next day, with the option to opt out.
Develop content for your sales team
Content isn’t only for marketing, you know. It’s for everyone! Your sales team need to be involved in the content creation process to ensure they get the content that’s right for them. For example, a sales rep isn’t going to read a 2500 word blog prior to a call with a prospect. But a 2-minute video? That’s feasible.
Likewise, it isn’t great practice to have sales reps bark out technical product descriptions from your company brochure over the phone. Not if you want your prospect to stay awake anyway. Think about what benefits the product will give the prospect based on the goals and challenges they’ve provided, and how you can relay that information to them in a digestible form.
Get marketing to create content your sales team can use, and they’ll love you for it!
Use your website to sell your business
Your website is your best sales tool, it’s where most people make their first touchpoint and forms their initial impression of your company. When you analyse or build a new website, you need to consider three things, design, user experience and marketing. They don't exist independently, and you shouldn’t ignore any of them.
Design. You need to ensure your website is visually appealing, an ugly website isn’t likely to generate a lot of interest.
User experience. Visitors need to be given a clear path or journey when they visit your site. If they’re confused by what you want them to do, they’ll leave.
Marketing. You’ve got entice people with your website copy, give them clear actions to take and provide them with useful resources for them to take an interest in what you have to offer.
Red-Fern can help increase sales within manufacturing!
So, there you have it, six easy steps for you to take towards increasing your overall sales. It’s worth noting that these aren’t overnight fixes, they’re not a miracle cure that’s going to see a poor sales process turn into an amazing one in an instant. However, all you need is patience and time and things WILL take an upturn, trust us.
If you’re feeling a little lost and don’t know where to start, don’t worry, that’s completely natural. Luckily for you, we’ve created a FREE guide that outlines the opportunity within the manufacturing industry and how Red-Fern have previously helped manufacturing businesses achieve their overall goals.
However, it's not quite ready yet - but it will be VERY soon. In the meantime, why not visit our dedicated manufacturing microsite? Or, please don't hesitate to get in touch with one of our expert team.