Manufacturers should professionalize their sales and marketing for growth

Most manufacturers would agree that marketing has never been a key component of their growth strategy. In fact, some dismiss the activity altogether.

Admittedly, five to eight years ago, it was difficult to measure marketing’s return on investment. Today, buyers have changed the way they buy, and marketing has taken on a critical role in the sales process.

Quality, pricing, timing and customer service are the four pillars of manufacturing. Every manufacturer sells on these buyer expectations; when a customer leaves them it’s usually because of one of these reasons. So, how do manufacturers stand out when their competitors are selling on the same messaging?

“As manufacturers continue to compete on quality, pricing, timing and customer service, they must differentiate their value proposition during the buyer’s buying process. It’s the buying experience that determines whether a buyer purchases from one manufacturer or another,” says Chris Peer, CEO of SyncShow.

Smart Business spoke with Peer to learn more about professionalizing sales and marketing for business growth.

What does it mean to professionalize sales and marketing and why should it matter to manufacturers?

When a buyer begins the buying process he or she typically goes through six stages, which are: research, engagement, consideration, evaluation, confirmation and commitment. At each stage the buyer has an ‘experience’ with the seller’s brand. Whether it be the website, salesperson, marketing collateral, quote presentation or follow up and customer service, the buyer is rating the manufacturer based on the overall experience. Knowing most manufacturers are selling on cost, quality, customer service and timing, the real differentiation comes in how the manufacturer sells. Ensuring a strong experience for the buyer at all stages of the buying process helps to secure more deals.

How can manufacturers improve their success in sales and marketing?

Often sales teams focus on their products or capabilities and completely forget about buyers’ needs. People don’t want to be sold, they want to feel good about their purchase. Look at every stage of the buyer’s journey and align your marketing and sales process to that journey. Take a step back and look at every point of contact with the buyer along the way, such as:

  • Your website for mistakes, errors and presentation.
  • Is your marketing collateral in alignment?
  • Are you following up on leads and providing value along the way?
  • Is your response timely and accurate?
  • Do you keep in touch with the buyer throughout the buying process, even if its several months long?
  • Who answers your phones? Are they pleasant and friendly?
  • Look at your quotes and proposals. Are they meeting the buyers’ needs?
  • Are your contracts easy to sign? Do you make it easy to do business with your company?
  • Does your facility or office look professional?

Step back and look at your company as an outsider. Question everything you do and ask, ‘Why are we doing it this way and what would a prospect think?’ Often you will find opportunities for improvement that can add dollars to your bottom line.

How does a company get started?

First, you have to want to change and be committed to growth. Many business owners wait until their business is nearly dead. By then it could be too late.

Once you are ready for change, talk to professionals. True change and growth is a process, not a quick fix. Professionalizing your marketing and sales requires change management, systems, tools and a cadence.

To get started:

  • Analyze your buyer’s journey and map it to your selling system, including marketing.
  • Implement the necessary tools, systems and assets for success. Don’t skimp here.
  • Measure, measure, adjust and measure. Repeat.

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