One long-lasting impact of the pandemic is that your industrial salespeople have fewer chances to interact with buyers and are probably doing so after buyers have done significant online research and vetting. It’s more essential than ever to help your sales team close deals.
At its core, industrial sales enablement means giving the sales team the resources, training, content, and tools they need to succeed. Effective sales enablement aligns the marketing and sales teams and ensures that a cohesive, persuasive message is presented to industrial buyers as they move through the funnel.
Sales enablement is now a standard practice across industries: By spring 2020, 62% of organizations had already dedicated resources that were specific to sales enablement. With digital technology and industry 4.0 changing the face of manufacturing, sales enablement is increasingly important in the industrial sector. If you haven’t done so already, this might be a good time to review the three major components of your sales enablement strategy:
The Industrial Buying Process Continues to Evolve
Many forces are contributing to change in the industrial buying process, among them more digital natives in the workforce and the loss of trade shows and in-person sales calls. But the biggest and most recent impact, according to the State of Sales Enablement 2020 report, is that buyers require more business justification than even 12-18 months ago. Manufacturing clients are demanding reduced cycle times, higher quality parts and products, and lower costs. Better, faster and cheaper.
The top three sales challenges in the manufacturing industry are:
- Competitive pressure
- Time required to sell
- Customer experience and retention
Let’s take a look at how these changes might impact your approaches to industrial sales enablement.
Strengthen the Feedback Loop to Keep Sales and Marketing in Sync
Goals and Groundwork
Sales and Marketing Alignment
Rollout and Training
Chances are your company has made significant adjustments since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which means you may have adjusted your sales and/or marketing objectives. If so, have you adjusted your key performance indicators (KPIs)?
For example, another finding of the sales enablement report was that manufacturers are three times more likely to use magazines, industry publications, and familiar company websites in their vendor evaluations, than non-industry sources like search and social media. Nearly 90% of industrial buyers use a minimum of three different media types to make their purchases. If you, like many industrials, have increased your digital advertising, how are you qualifying those leads?
If your processes for generating and qualifying leads have changed, are both marketing and sales pursuing the same objectives? How strong is the feedback loop connecting the two departments? Change often puts stress on communication and accountability, so this is a good area to review.
Another key change has been the shift to virtual for, well, just about everything. You have had to figure out how to work remotely, have you put any resources into training for virtual sales calls? Have you provided virtual-appropriate sales collateral?
Leverage the Marketing Technologies You Already Have in Place
Sales Content Personalization
Many manufacturers were slow to invest in a CRM platform, and many that did are not leveraging its capabilities. This would be a good time to revisit how you are using your CRM, because digital tactics are collecting a wider variety of data, and you probably have more touch points as well. How are you capturing insights from the onslaught of data? Analytics are a powerful tool in your sales enablement toolkit; now is a good time to recalibrate.
Integrating your CRM with your marketing automation is a great way to enable alignment between sales and marketing. You’ll have a much better full-funnel view of what is driving growth, and a better understanding of who is responding and how you should market to them.
Update Your Content Strategy to Reflect Changing Behaviors
Industrial Buyer Journeys
Sales Content Planning
Sales Access to Content
We can be certain the behaviors of your target personas have changed during the pandemic – how should your content change? With the massive increase in digital access, it’s easy to see how videos have become a more powerful tool to tout product benefits and tell success stories and provide testimonials.
Likewise, if you are building up your email database, perhaps you could be versioning content for different personas – a different message for engineers from what is sent to the purchasing managers.
Sales enablement content is all about making sure a customer gets the right message at every touchpoint in the buying process. As those touchpoints change, your content approach should change with them.
Make Sure Your Industrial Sales Enablement is in Alignment
Sales enablement is like any investment. If it is leveraged correctly, and in alignment across the company, it pays off in the long run with more efficient and effective sales, not to mention more satisfied customers. If you’re ready to review or start your industrial sales enablement program, contact us today to learn how we can help you align sales and marketing.
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