Manufacturing Sales: 7 Unexpected Tips from Seasoned Pros
We’ve long abandoned the idea of simply “coming up” with industry-specific sales tips. The result would be neither accurate nor authentic. Instead, we chose to go directly to the source and talk to our customers who know their industry (and its sales process particularities) inside and out. We’ve already discovered the top tips from the sales gurus in Agencies and IT companies (some of them are relevant across industries, so have a read!). And now, we’ve decided to take a look at the world of Manufacturing sales.
The tips below come from years of experience. Whether you’re just starting out or are a seasoned pro looking to shake up your manufacturing sales strategy, give it a read. Two (or seven) heads are better than one, after all.
Don’t be afraid to say “NO”
The old “Yes, we can!” sales mantra is hard to give up. But as Douglas Sutherland, Sales/Design Director at Koivu, notes in his advice, saying yes to something outside of your business scope can do more harm than good. Sometimes the best thing you can do for your sales revenue and your company success is actually walk away.
“We’re a Birch plywood kitchen company, but sometimes customers ask if we can do a piece of furniture for another part of the house to match the kitchen. While often it’s doable, sometimes the request is completely outside of our usual scope. If we agree, it would mess up all our manufacturing systems, create more workload than expected, and potentially cause delays for other jobs.
“Even though it’s important to put the customer first, don’t be afraid to say “no, we can’t do that” if what the client is asking for is outside of your normal mode of business.”
Listen to the client’s needs
In his advice, Silas Bowling, Co-Owner at Sheds By Design, focuses on simple but often overlooked truth: your sales approach should be shaped by the client’s needs. Ask the right questions, listen, and don’t forget to follow up to show that you truly care.
“After 5 years of sales, the number one piece of sales advice I would give is: Listen to the clients’ needs—they will tell you how to sell to them! Ask the right questions. That will help you establish how to effectively get them the product you offer. And don’t forget to show that you care and follow up as soon as possible!”
Keep your records straight
Memory can be faulty. Especially considering that a manufacturing sales cycle can take several months. Helen Chou, Sales Manager at Difvan Factory, underlines the importance of keeping detailed records of each client interaction to stay on the ball throughout your sales process.
“As a manufacturer of wiring accessories, we have a longer sales cycle. It can take 6 months or more to see a return on our follow-ups. During this time, you can easily drown in other leads coming from resellers and distributors every day.
“My piece of advice for manufacturers is to always keep detailed records of prospect interactions, including what you talked about and any key pain points mentioned by them. This will make it easier to note down the solutions to each pain point by the due date of your Next Action.”
Follow up as soon as you can
Studies show that if you wait longer than 5 minutes to follow up with a lead, your chances to qualify them decrease by 10x. While that timeframe might be a bit extreme, Darren Warren, CEO at Stor-Mor Portable Buildings, agrees that the response time is key to the manufacturing sales success.
“Response time is everything. Being able to follow up on a lead within 15 minutes vs two hours makes all the difference.
“By strategically organizing our leads, we have optimized our sales funnels with higher quality leads, shorter close times, and better customer relationships. This allows us to be more efficient and increase our overall productivity.”
Respect your customer
Jeff Whyte, Engineering Manager at EFJ Engineering, highlighted the importance of exceptional customer experience (we couldn’t agree more!), understanding each customer’s unique situation, and treating them with respect.
“It’s important to treat customers with respect and to try and understand how they will benefit from doing business with your organization. This could be through delivering a more reliable product, quicker lead times, or something as simple as answering their emails/calls when they reach out. A lot has to be said for a pleasant customer experience.
“All customers experience different difficulties in their roles, and it’s our job to understand these pressures and offer value-oriented solutions. It can be difficult to remember every customer’s individual situation, and CRM packages help massively with this.”
Be relentlessly organized and attentive
Michael Beer, Sales and Marketing Manager at DVS Technosoft, summed it up nicely. Understand your customer’s market, their business, and their needs. To be an advisor you first need to be an expert.
“Selling manufacturing or engineering services is a unique skill set with a high risk/reward quotient. Ultimately, the difference between wins and losses comes down to understanding the newest solutions for your vertical market, being cost-competitive, and, most importantly, communication.
“The best sales communicators are relentlessly organized and attentive. To boil it down to a single piece of advice: know everything you can about your customer’s business so you can act as their advocate and advisor.
Think long term
Manufacturing sales is a long game. Brad Wrigley, Co-Founder & CEO at Varadis, believes that building genuine and lasting relationships with your customers, as well as truly understanding them can help not only them but also your own company.
“My key advice would be to build a genuine, supportive, collaborative, and long-term business relationship with your customers. Try to really understand what problem a customer is trying to address now and what might be important to them in the future.
“Understanding customers’ needs allows us to: provide maximum value, gain feedback on our company and technology to ultimately grow as a business, and improve our tech according to the developing industry needs which can only be done by being part of the customer’s journey long term.”
Are you in manufacturing sales yourself or know about challenges that come with them? We want to hear from you! What is your number one sales advice? Let us know in the comments or tweet us @OnePageCRM!