Industrial equipment manufacturers are faced with dozens of business challenges because of the complex nature of their sales cycle. Not the least of which is how to acquire new B2B sales leads. If you’re still relying on the old methods to bring in the majority of your leads – existing relationships, a mail campaign, an ad in a trade magazine, and showing up at one or two industry events each year – you are already behind.
If you are stuck in these old ways you may find yourself struggling to attract enough leads to grow or sustain your business. Implementing an online marketing strategy to solve this lead generation problem is a good move. However, for it to be effective it’s critical to have a well designed system to attract your prospects and get them to reach out to you.
It’s not enough to build a great website these days. It’s not enough to send out a monthly newsletter, either. If you want to achieve the goal of a steady stream of leads each month and remain top-of-mind to your potential customers, there are dozens of things you have to do. Neglect these things and prospects will pass you by for your competition.
Putting together an effective system to deliver leads for your complex sales doesn’t happen without planning and execution. Much like the manufacturing process itself, you need to take a systematic approach and implement the right elements of that system in the right way to successfully bring in new leads each month.
If you aren’t sure where to start, here are four steps that industrial manufacturers need to take now in order to get ahead of the competition. Take these four critical steps for business to business lead generation and you’re on the right path to see a steady increase in the leads you attract each month.
1. Commit to a Systematic Approach
It’s time to stop thinking that simply having a presence online is enough. You need to commit to implementing an online lead generation program that will work for you 24/7 and fit your specific set of needs. Business-to-business sales of industrial equipment are complex and online lead generation for them doesn’t happen by accident, you need to have more than just a website in order to generate inbound leads.
An effective online lead generation system requires targeted visitors who are attracted to your company by high quality, useful content created and structured to engage them. Look at your online material as steps in your prospects decision making journey and begin to think of it as system that provides them with the right information for making that decision. By taking a systematic approach to providing your prospects with the information they require, you will begin to see areas for improvement in your current online marketing.
2. Assess Your Current Content
Having content that is designed to attract, engage and compel prospects to reach out to you as a new lead is a critical element to a successful system. So, once you have committed to a systematic approach to online lead generation, it’s time to take a hard look at the information you are currently showing to your online visitors. Because of the complex nature of industrial equipment sales, your prospects require a higher level of detail and quality – and a lot more information throughout the sales cycle than most other products require. You need to make sure that the information your prospects access is the most recent, most relevant, most engaging content that you can produce. Your potential customers are searching online for solutions to their problems and finding information about equipment like yours – when they find your information, make sure it helps them or they will quickly move on to your competition.
- Audit your site for old information, brochures, and data sheets and update it so it provides the visitor with useful “decision making” information.
- Develop new, useful, engaging content that potential leads can find easily on your site.
- Work carefully to understand what kind of information you should provide to leads that land on your website or other online properties – does it help to pull leads further into your funnel?
- Understand who your target audience is for each piece of content and make sure that you are speaking directly to your target with content that’s valuable to them.
3. Position Your Content to be Found by Your Prospects
Effective online marketing begins with your prospects finding information about your products when they are looking for solutions to their problems. Having the best, most engaging content does you no good if no one finds it. By conducting a market visibility audit you will have a better understanding of how likely your potential customers are to find your products when they are conducting online research.
Studies show that most people begin their research online when looking for products. (Yes, even industrial products). These studies also show that most of these people do not go past the first page of search results when conducting online research.
To get a very basic idea of your visibility, select the ten phrases (don’t include your brand name or product name) that your potential customers might use to search for equipment like yours. Simply enter each phrase into your favorite search engine and give yourself one point if your information appears on page 1, and 0 points if is not. The total results will give you a quick snapshot of your visibility and how likely customers are to find your products – a good result is seven. Also, make note of who is on the first page, are your competitors there?
While this is a useful start it doesn’t give you the whole picture, rather a basic indication of potential shortcomings in your market visibility. This allows you to begin to identify the areas that need work.
4. Provide Multiple Engagement Points
In the world of complex sales, converting an anonymous visitor to your website into a lead is a very involved process. In these types of sales, the bar is set high for the level of trust and value you must provide before someone will reach out to you. The goal of online lead generation is to get your visitors to engage with your sales team. However, the timing of this is always determined by your prospects own schedule.
For complex sales, the vast majority of your prospects will not be ready to talk directly to your sales team the first time they come to your website, read your ad, or watch a video. By providing your visitors with updated content, valuable information and multiple ways to engage with you, you build that required trust, value and comfort. These multiple engagement points are essential for a visitor to your site to willingly share their contact information with you.
Remember, the sales cycle is always based on your customer’s timeframe, not yours, so you need them to feel comfortable starting a conversation with your sales team on their schedule and when they are ready to do so.
Until you have their contact information, prospects coming to your website are just anonymous visitors. If you provide limited information and only direct methods of contact like a phone number and an email form, you are pushing away potential leads who aren’t ready to talk directly with you yet. Give your visitors opportunities to get valuable information in exchange for their basic contact information. This can provide the low-barrier entry point you need to build trust and start a conversation. Provide your prospects a well structured online experience that delivers helpful information, and share something with them – a research paper, a case study, perhaps – that will make them feel like you’re a trusted colleague.
Once you’ve embraced these four elements, you are on your way to improving the quality and quantity of your new sales leads. By learning to carry on this digital conversation with your potential customers, you’ll be able to pave the way for leads with much greater ease.
Mastering these four elements takes time, but it’s just the beginning. Crafting them into a complete system that delivers leads to you 24/7 is more than website design, SEO or content creation, it takes planning, commitment and consistent execution but the effort pays off in the end.
We help our clients by creating and managing all the complexities of these online lead generation systems for them so they can focus on selling.
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