The nature of industrial sales and on a larger scale, business to business sales has changed. Over the past ten to fifteen years, we’ve witnessed a transfer of power from the salesperson to the buyer leading to a dramatic decline in the sales persons ability to generate sales leads through traditional methods. This shift has impacted the way we sell products — and how well they sell — for the long term.
Being involved in industrial sales, particularly with selling products or services that have a long sales cycle, your challenges are even greater. Your long sales cycle means that customers have a lot of time to think about your product, and plenty of incentive to research what your competitor can bring to the table. That’s the crux of it: Research. Customers are now able to get much more information about your product than ever before they have their first conversation with you.
The new business to business customer
A Harvard Business Review article titled, The End of Solution Sales, outlines the pain points that companies face. “The hardest thing about selling B2B these days,” begins the article, “is that customers don’t need you the way they used to.” Armed with Internet-based research, customers are walking in the door ready to have discussions about fulfillment rather than asking questions about the product, notes the article. The authors focus on how to help your sales force transform their approach to be able to handle the well-informed customer — but our first thought wasn’t about salespeople at all, it was about leads.
After all, if customers aren’t finding information about you in the research phase, there won’t be a sales discussion.
Selling by informing
Customers don’t want to be sold anymore. They want to learn. You’ve probably heard the statistics before. But, by the time a customer contacts your business to inquire about a product, they’re more than 60 percent of the way to making a decision on what they’re going to purchase.
How can you be there during the first two-thirds of the customer journey? It’s more about creating awareness about your product and slowly pulling the customer in by initiating a conversation with them — albeit electronically — and maintaining that conversation at a comfortable pace throughout your sales cycle. And for those of us who sell heavy equipment, big industrial products or services this can be a long conversation.
It’s also about targeting your efforts directly to the right customer, with the right message, at the right time. For those in our industry, it’s almost an art form to strike the right note on this trifecta — you have to know and understand the industry and deliver your message with the right voice.
Knowing where to focus your lead generation efforts
If you’ve been involved with B2B sales of industrial products or services for any length of time, your traditional lead generation activities probably began with “hitting the road” to get new sales leads. Canvassing business parks, cold calling, hunting for undiscovered manufacturing plants in that part of your sales territory that you haven’t been to yet. These brute force lead generation methods are extremely time-consuming and usually not very successful, but sales managers love to see travel miles from their sales people because they think that means that they are doing their job. Unfortunately, this is about the most inefficient use of your sales team but when you’re not focused properly and think you have no other way of acquiring new sales leads you are forced to into desperate measures.
Where your B2B sales leads come from
New sales leads can be broken down into two categories each requiring different sales strategies for B2b lead generation.
- People Who Have Purchased From You In the Past – They know your company and your salespeople because they have had bought from you previously. These people are likely to take a call and respond to an email from your sales team. Staying top of mind with these people should be of the highest priory for your sales team. And, when it comes to sales lead generation, it’s where you should focus 90% of your sales team efforts.
- People who you have not purchased from you and may not even be aware of your company. –They have no previous experience with your company. These prospects are searching for solutions to their problems online. And, your sales team has nearly a 0% chance of getting them to return a phone call or an email using traditional brute force methods. Unfortunately, too many sales managers make getting these new sales leads a priority for their sales team and consequently setting them up for failure. Reaching, educating, and attracting these people is where an online lead generation system is essential. Applying and integrating an online lead generation program into your business flips this situation to your advantage, so these prospects find your company and reach out to your sales team.
Once you have a sustainable stream of high-quality sales leads coming to your sales team, you can stop hunting. Your sales people can focus on what matters, and that is following up on customers for new business opportunities, generating quotes, nurturing current sales contacts, and closing sales. Not trying to acquire new sales leads from people who don’t know you, won’t take your call and will delete your email without even opening it.
Our secret formula – We focus on your ideal sales lead
We come from manufacturing and not only understand the challenges of complex sales but have lived them. In developing our knowledge of online lead generation over the last 15 years, we have systemized the process of attracting, and acquiring high-quality sales leads for complex sales of products and services. What’s our secret? We have a single focus, to deliver the highest quality sales leads that fit your ideal customer profile. This goal is the center of everything we do for you.
A few years ago, we launched Industrial Lead Generation (ILG) to provide a service to our colleagues who have had the same frustrations we’ve had. Using our system, we know that we can generate leads. We also know that the last thing you need is another online tool, or software to learn. That is why we set up our service as a complete turnkey package including the development and ongoing management of your custom online lead generation system. We’re not representing anyone but industrial companies because we don’t want to lose our focus on our industry and its specialized needs.
In the end, it’s a lot of fun to help companies cast their net wider and reap the benefits of this kind of lead generation activity. It’s surprisingly satisfying to do it in such a challenging climate for businesses like ours that have traditionally had a hard time getting business in the door on a regular basis. We love what we do, and we’re very happy to talk with you about it.
If you would like to talk to us about an ILG service for your company, please fill out our discovery form. We will review your completed form and contact you to schedule an informal phone meeting to see if there is a fit. Click here to go to our discovery form page.