Who is in control of the customer? 

Way back in the early nineteen eighties, the first car I bought from a car dealership, as opposed to Exchange and Mart or from a friend of a friend in the pub, was a Lancia Beta 2.0 Spyder. 

It was second hand but looked the business. Silver, Targa top, twin-cam engine, twin Dellorto carburettors, 5-speed gearbox and, you’ve probably guessed, a lovely case of rust; this developed happily from the inside outwards during the year or so that I owned the car, to the point where there was more rust than metal. 

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My point here is that, although I was an enthusiastic driver, my knowledge of Lancia’s was largely limited to what I heard from friends or read in car magazines.  When I walked into the car dealership it was the salesman who was in control of the process; he had all the knowledge. 

Today, things are completely different.  If we buy from a dealership then we go in fully armed with everything we need to know.  We have done our research online and know the exact spec we want, the colour, trim, options and the price that we expect to pay.  All the poor salesman has left in his armoury is the ability to haggle over the monthly finance payments. 

The buyer is in control in industrial sales 

Today, the buyer is in control. 

This is as true for car buying as it is for any industrial product, system or service. 

Your customers and prospects probably know as much as you do about your products and their use in their particular application. 

Certainly, by the time they get in touch with your business, they will have already carried out their research into the best solution for their need and will probably have shortlisted a small number of potential suppliers. 

This is, of course, contrary to traditional sales techniques, especially cold calling and prospecting.  As you’ve probably found, these techniques no longer work; when, for example, was the last time you cold-called a prospect and managed to speak to – never mind sell to – the decision maker? 

How do you attract new customers? 

The decline in the effectiveness of traditional push, or outbound, sales techniques has been matched by a rise in inbound marketing. 

Inbound marketing: 

  • Creates an online environment where your prospective customers easily find your business through organic search, social media or paid advertising (LinkedIn and Google AdWords) 
  • Uses a combination of SEO techniques, with web site and social media content tattract and engage prospects, drawing them along the customer journey to the point where they are ready to make contact with your business 
  • Depends on the use of advanced marketing automation tools, such as HubSpot, to enable each prospect to be nurtured at each stage of the customer journey. 

In the industrial and manufacturing sectors, where we are generally targeting audiences that are hungry for fresh inspiration and insight on new technologies or ways of doing business, inbound marketing offers considerable potential. 

Inbound marketing for industrial and manufacturing companies 

Inbound marketing is a technique that is: 

  • Easy to set up and manage, especially with tools such as HubSpot 
  • Easy to monitor the results
  • Creates high quality sales prospects 
  • Provides detailed information to the sales team about the buying behaviours of individual prospects, so that sales messages and the timing of contacts can be optimised to best effect. 

Although inbound marketing is a great tool for generating high quality sales prospects it needs to be integrated alongside other sales tools – and, yes, traditional sales techniques still have a role to play – as part of a carefully aligned business development strategy.