- Understanding your target market, buyer's persona, customer needs, and pain points are crucial for building a robust manufacturing sales strategy.
- The manufacturing industry is adopting an inbound sales approach that involves digital marketing strategies like content marketing, search engine optimization, and social media marketing.
- Regularly seeking customer feedback can help you improve your sales process and build stronger relationships.
The manufacturing sector faces an alarming rate of inflation, where the production rates have increased by 33.9% for the past two years (2020-2022).
Inflation reduces purchasing power.
The purchasing power affects demand, which affects sales, followed by adverse effects on returns that are crucial for driving business growth.
Identifying areas for improvement has never been more vital to ensure fluctuations in the market do not falter growth.
Manufacturers have reiterated production aspects such as SOPs and operations to prevent this.
However, they need to focus more on business-related issues like sales, which directly impact revenue generation and growth.
This blog covers the step-by-step manufacturing sales strategy process that can help you grow your revenue.
- Discover the status of the market and your existing sales efforts first!
- Manufacturing sales strategy: Step by step process
- Frequently asked questions
Discover the status of the market and your existing sales efforts first!
You must know your potential market landscape and current sales efforts for a winning sales strategy.
1. Understand your current market trends and demands
Discovering the market trend can open opportunities for manufacturing companies to target new customers, expand reach, and tap into new markets.
For instance, automobile manufacturers are following the current market demand for EVs and stepping into EV manufacturing.
Also, understanding your market will help you identify challenges.
2. Evaluate your existing sales efforts
This is important for those in the sales practices and generating revenue. So, you need to assess your current sales efforts.
Firstly, determine whether it is giving eminent results or not. Then, discover where your reps are facing challenges in the sales process.
Also, discover what those factors influence your manufacturing sales.
Thinking how to do it?
Simply analyze key sales metrics like CAC (customer acquisition costs), conversion rates, revenue, etc.
With all the details on the table, you are now ready to build an actionable manufacturing sales strategy.
Manufacturing sales strategy: Step by step process
To build an impactful sales strategy, the sales leader should be clear on the company’s revenue goals, ideal target audience, available resources, etc…
Step 1: Define your sales goals and objectives
Defining goals is a primary step, as only your sales strategy will get a direction to decide certain actions.
Before setting sales goals for your manufacturing business, you need to assess your resources. That is, check your budget availability, technology present, and manpower.
Then, analyze whether you have enough resources to charge up your sales process.
Manufacturing companies generally follow a B2B sales approach plus experience a complex sales cycle.
So, with such challenges, setting goals that align with your overall business objectives might be daunting.
However, this process can become easier when you follow the SMART model for setting your sales goals.
SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, result-oriented, and timely.
So, when you are defining your sales goals, check if they are…
Specific: They should be clearly defined without any vagueness. For instance, increasing sales revenue by 12% in the next quarter.
Measurable: You should be able to determine the success of meeting the goal. So, define key metrics or KPIs to track and quantify. For instance, tracking the number of deals won or lost from the sales pipeline in a month.
Achievable: Ensure you set realistic sales goals that are attainable in the real world. Setting unrealistic goals and failing to achieve them will demotivate your sales team and hinder success.
Result-oriented: It should focus on the outcomes you aspire to achieve. So, they should be contributing to your overall business objectives.
Timely: Setting sales goals without mentioning a timeframe to achieve will lead to failure in success. Also, time-specific goals created FOMO and are much more accountable.
Moreover, it lets sales reps prioritize their tasks and motivate them to complete them in the defined period.
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Step 2: Define your ideal target market and buyer persona
Conduct market research and identify unmet needs in your industry that your products can be an ideal solution.
In simple words, you have to examine the market you’re selling to.
You’re probably aware of this because you already have a market segment where you do business.
But consider this.
- What is the potential number of buyers in that market?
- What is your market share in that segment?
For example, you have a lot of buyers for your product, but your market share is probably around 2-3%.
Now, identify if this is satisfactory for you or if you hope for a higher market share.
Moreover, you can also discover potential new markets. For instance, you manufacture ceramic-based components such as bricks, glass, and tiles for the construction industry.
Now, ask if you would want to expand to a new market segment, like the automobile industry.
If so, you can expand to making ceramic components for gas turbine engines.
Identifying your ideal target market requires a broad perspective of the industry you’re looking into.
To do that, as a manufacturing company, you must check the components like geographical location, firmographics, size, and technographic.
Moreover, you must do the PESTLE analysis to determine the key external factors that influence strategic decision-making. (Political, economic, sociological, technological, legal, and environmental).
Such an analysis will help you spot trends in the market and give your business a competitive edge.
Now once done with identifying your ideal target market, define your buyer persona.
Your buyer persona is a fictitious profile that describes your ideal customer and why they’d want your product or service over your competitor’s.
A buyer persona should include a key decision-maker with the following information:
- A fictitious name and title, such as “Dana Matthews, CPA”
- The person’s industry, age, salary, and education
- Their goals and challenges
- How your value proposition aligns with their wants/needs
To create buyer persona profiles, first divide your customers into segments based on shared characteristics—industry, location, demographic, etc.
These segments may vary in interests, goals, needs, and demographics.
Here’s an example of an ideal customer persona for a coil spring manufacturer looking to target the automotive space.
|Demographic info:||Age- 45 yrs. Location- California, US|
|Company Details:||Industry- Automotive Industries in the US Size- 500-5000 Revenue- $50 M- $ 500M Business model type- Hybrid|
|Pain points:||Supply chain disruptions, low-quality coil springs, product defects.|
|Goals||Scale their business and improve financial health, so willing to invest in finance consultants to accomplish that.|
|Factors influencing buying decisions:||1. Quality of the spring products 2. Competitive pricing ad strong value proposition 3. Delivery times 4. Looking for responsive and innovative suppliers|
Defining your ICP and buyer persona helps you discover opportunities to find new potential opportunities.
Another simple way to do this is by reviewing your past customer data, if any.
It will give you insights like what kind of customers paid you, what were their common challenges, and how your product is a solution to them.
Also, it will help you identify your value propositions and set up better pricing.
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Step 3: Choose the sales approach: Inbound, outbound, or both.
Deciding on an effective sales approach is a crucial part of any sales strategy as it impacts the success level of your efforts.
Manufacturing businesses are fond of outbound sales, which involve effective outreach practices like cold calling and direct mail to get potential customers.
Outbound sales hold value for manufacturing firms as it…
- Allows targeted sales prospecting to contact specific industry people and decision-makers directly.
- Gets them an immediate response and has quicker sales conversations.
- Presents opportunities for in-person connections and thus helps them to better assess their needs and desire to showcase your value propositions.
However, the current evolution in the buyer’s journeys indicates taking up an inbound sales approach where marketing efforts play a vital role in winning sales. Moreover, it improves sales and marketing teams alignment.
The inbound sales approach involves activities like creating valuable content, building a strong online presence, SEO, etc., which are mostly executed by a marketing team.
Post covid, manufacturers realize the importance of inbound sales equally important as outbound.
The inbound sales approach is beneficial as it helps in…
- To drive high-quality lead generation for sales by sharing valuable content
- Build trust and credibility by providing solutions and establishing thought leadership through their content.
- To better nurture leads with personalized email campaigns and follow-ups that increase lead conversion chances.
- Better aligning of marketing and sales teams towards making you the best in the manufacturing industry.
There is no said rule or restriction on choosing any of the sales approaches. However, today’s business demands more.
Combining inbound and outbound sales approaches depending on necessity and demand is smart for your business.
Step 4: Develop actionable manufacturing sales strategies to boost efforts
A sales strategy will drive results if you consciously follow certain practices that contribute towards achieving your intent.
Here are the most crucial manufacturing sales strategies to consider:
1. Build a strong sales team to crush your quotas
This helps you achieve your sales goals is essential. Aso, invest time and resources in sales enablement and training programs to brush up on the skills of your sales reps regularly.
2. Optimizing your website content and overall to get in Infront of your potential customers
Inbound sales, buyers come through various digital channels, and a website is essential. You must showcase your products and USPs most effectively so that your inbound leads will get ready to pay you.
If you manufacture several products or variations of a product, ensure you arrange them into different categories. This makes it easier for customers to understand your product range.
Explore the website of Markforged, an additive manufacturing company. See how beautifully they expressed their product through visuals.
Also, you must showcase testimonials and case studies showing customer success stories as social proof.
Showcasing resources like interactive online catalogs on your website helps present your product categories, descriptions, features, accessories, drawings, pricing, technical information, etc.
Moreover, you can leverage this as your gated resource that will generate details of high-quality leads.
Provide every technical information that will assist the customer with assembling or servicing, such as user manual, service manual, and warranty.
Must show compliance documents such as ISO certificates and policies on the website, which tells customers they follow government regulations and best practices.
You can introduce a web chatbot system to solve instant and common queries 24/7.
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3. Tailor your sales pitch
Customers prefer to go with brands offering personalized solutions or focusing on solving their problems.
So, before selling, your sales reps must research your customer’s pain points, goals, and industry to showcase your products as heroes or solutions to them.
They must try to collect such data during their sales qualification process.
Following smart sales qualification frameworks will help your sales reps qualify and understand your prospects’ needs.
Then it is all about modifying the regular pitch based on their questions and feedback.
So, when you are well aware of your customer’s needs, you can present a tailored solution that helps you win more deals.
4. Implement a competitive pricing strategy
Understand various factors like production costs, target market, competition, customer feedback, and market trends to stay competitive in pricing.
Continuously keep a close eye on these factors to stay competitive and maximize profitability.
Nowadays, manufacturers prefer the value-based pricing strategy. However, this pricing depends solely on the unique value your product provides customers.
Determine how much value your customers would gain from your product.
Any special feature that provides a tangible or intangible benefit must be considered and set a price accordingly.
5. Invest in smart sales technologies
If you aim to achieve your sales goals, investing in smart sales technology is necessary.
It helps to boost your productivity and sales team efficiency.
For instance, utilizing a sales automation tool will help your reps automate their follow-ups and thus increase engagement. It also saves their time to focus on revenue-generating tasks.
Another useful sales tool is CPQ software which helps you to generate competitive pricing and quotes.
Talking about effective sales tools, how can we forget the one-stop solution- CRM. It can help manufacturing companies streamline sales processes and make data-driven decisions.
CRM software can help you…
- Generate leads directly for web
- Store, manage, and leverage data to get insights about your prospective clients
- Nurture leads with personalized campaigns
- Track your sales reps’ activities and goals
- Automate repetitive or tedious tasks like manual dialing, follow-ups, etc.
- Better visualize opportunities with sales pipelines
- Make informed decisions with sales reports
Invest in a smart sales tool like CRM for sales marketing and CX teams.
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6. Provide an excellent customer experience
A great customer experience, whether pre-purchase or post-purchase, is important as it generates trust, builds relationships and retains customers. Follow the below tips to improve your client experience:
- Have a good customer support team
A positive experience with the customer support team ensures customer loyalty and retention for the long term. Moreover, you can ask your happy existing customers for more a referral.
- Online chat support, email support
A quick response builds customers’ trust in your brand. With live chat support, the right agent can join the conversation when more complex questions arise.
Our Chat Journeys enable sales and support teams to reply to customers instantly. In addition, it helps contribute to 24/7 constant support when the support team isn’t available.
- Instant follow-up after quote requests
It is crucial to follow up quickly after a customer makes a quote. It is said that the customer loses interest if not followed up within 2 hours of requesting a quote.
Automation Journeys can help create a custom journey of reaching out to the lead after the ‘submit’ trigger is evoked.
The trigger then invokes an email to be sent or a call to be made based on pre-defined rules.
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Step 5: Establish a sales process, monitor and optimize
You know what you want your reps to achieve—now help them get there.
To achieve this, you need to establish a sales plan, defining tasks your sales reps would need to follow to meet the goals.
Take a combined sales approach:
1. Following an outbound approach to reach out to potential distributors
Most manufacturing companies prefer this because a distributor helps complement their sales goals and achieve sales targets.
Below are some tips for finding a wholesaler or distributor.
- Finding a wholesaler involves checking phone listings and directories while finding a distributor can be done by checking online marketplaces like Alibaba and eBay.
- Search online directories, industry associations, and trade publications.
- Check for credentials to ensure they’re a reputable business. Look for reviews from other manufacturers.
- Check their ratings from Better Business Bureau or similar organizations.
- Reach out to them and evaluate your best options. Base it on factors such as pricing, quality of service, and delivery times.
2. Following an inbound approach to drive potential distributors to them
Setting up a website to generate inbound leads with practices like leveraging content marketing, advertising, and social media, as well as doing product releases, etc.
All these methods are solely content distribution channels where the information about your company is distributed rather than the product itself.
This is purely an inbound sales approach where the leads are generated with inbound marketing efforts, qualify them with a lead scoring model, and passed on to the sales reps to convert the opportunity.
Now, once your sales reps start implementing sales strategies and generating revenues, you need to track their efforts to evaluate their success.
Tracking your sales goals is necessary to determine the outcomes of your sales efforts. For that, set up some key sales KPIs for your sales success.
Analyze sales reports and, based on the insights, try to optimize your sales strategy.
For instance, the report shows that most of the deals won in the last month were those who’ve taken your product demo.
Well, in that case, you should focus on how you can leverage your product demo better.
The key steps to building an effective sales strategy for a manufacturing firm include defining your sales goals and understanding your target market and your customer’s unique needs and points of view.
Then, decide on the ideal sales approach (inbound or outbound) and implement the best sales strategies toward your desired goal.
Finally, tracking your sales success, evaluating the bottlenecks, and optimizing based on the insights drawn out with sales intelligence tools.
Adopting a successful marketing strategy like inbound boosts sales as it is data-driven and improves sales and marketing alignment.
Frequently asked questions
What is sales in manufacturing?
Sales in manufacturing are all about selling finished goods to customers or other businesses. However, it also includes building customer relationships and developing effective sales strategies that can help drive revenue for the company.
What is a sales order in manufacturing?
In manufacturing, a sales order is a critical document that specifies the details of a customer’s order. It includes the product ordered, quantity, delivery date, and payment terms.
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