Originally published on Association of Equipment Manufacturers
“It’s the way we’ve always done things.”
This phrase may signal the decline in your next quarter’s sales. The truth is, the way things have always been done has worked for manufacturing longer than it has for most industries. Technology has revolutionized the way we interact with each other and the world around us, especially the way people educate themselves and make purchases. Yet, many manufacturers still rely on legacy sales processes and tools.
The way people search for information and buy has shifted. In order for manufacturers to stay competitive, update your sales strategy to reflect the modern buyer’s journey.
Understand the modern buyer’s journey
Today’s buyer controls the sales process. Sales teams today need to be willing to meet the buyer where they are in their buyer’s journey.
It’s key to acknowledge that today’s buyers’ first interaction is not with a salesperson. Previously, buyers were willing to speak to a sales team in the early stages of their decision-making process — which is why legacy sales worked so well for many years.
Today people turn to Google, social media and company websites to research their purchase. In fact, 57% of the purchasing decision is complete before a potential customer will reach out to a salesperson.
Modern buyers expect companies to understand their preferences and provide insightful information about products and services. People don’t want to be directly sold to anymore, they want to educate themselves before making a purchase.
Leverage expertise as educational assets
Most of the manufacturers we work with provide niche services and custom products. As a result, their teams are experts in their industry and trade. That level of expertise is a marketable asset for your sales team.
Start positioning the top minds on your team as thought leaders, and share content that’s informative for your target prospect. Modern buyers are looking to educate themselves before they reach out to a salesperson. Help them become well-informed consumers, and they will be more likely to reach out to you rather than your competitor.
Use data to your advantage
Creating an inbound sales strategy relevant to your customers’ needs is important, but if you’re not utilizing the data you’re collecting throughout the process, you could be leaving money on the table.
Implement systems that provide transparency for your team on how a buyer has engaged with your company before they interact. Whether it’s website analytics, downloadable content offers, social media mentions or CRM chat sessions, it’s crucial to use the data you receive to continuously guide your customers through the sales process.
Sales and marketing data can play a big role in understanding how your customers move through the buyers’ journey. Are they finding you via social media and then visiting your website? Is there a page on your website that seems to be a common drop-off spot for new visitors?
Data takes the guesswork out of the strategy and gives you concrete answers about what your customers do and don’t enjoy about your brand, what they’re searching for, what language they use, and potential feedback.
Customize the buyer’s journey to increase conversions
One of the biggest mistakes companies make today is not customizing customer experience to where they are in their buying journey. Build a strategy that aligns with your company and the goals of your customers. A well-planned strategy will align your sales and marketing team while giving them a deeper understanding of what prospects care about and modernizing your sales process.
A well-planned strategy will align your sales and marketing team while giving them a deeper understanding of what prospects care about and modernizing your sales process.
Aligning your inbound marketing and content strategy to the needs of your customers is all about positioning. Your goal should be to engage with customers in all stages of their journey and position your sales team as subject matter experts and trusted consultants.
Put yourself in your prospect’s shoes, go to your website, and ask yourself:
- Is there a point?
- Would someone who is unfamiliar with your brand be able to understand what you can provide them by browsing your social media or reading a blog post?
As your marketing team creates targeted content that speaks directly to your prospect through each stage of the buyer’s journey, they’ll gain further insight on the content that is useful. The data you collect about your user behavior, and which content is performing, makes it easier for your sales team to sell when they do finally connect with a prospect.
Align content with the buyer’s journey to increase sales
Don’t let your company miss out on valuable customer relationships because you’re stuck in the old way of doing things. Take the time to build a strategy that allows you to get to know your buyers, so that you can meet them where they’re at in their journey with the information they’re seeking before buying. Implementing even a few of the above ideas will align your sales and marketing teams and transform your sales process for the digital era.
Digital sales transformation leverages technology to optimize strategy, process, and content to achieve their vision of growth. Strategy House can help you do just that. We help manufacturers transform their business to meet the demands of the digital age and align their sales cycle with the modern buyer’s journey.