By PJ Bouten, CEO of Showpad
Manufacturing is a competitive industry, with companies vying for business among more than 250,000 manufacturers in the US alone. And as manufacturers know, it’s tough to differentiate from competitors based on product features, delivery times or price as these factors vary only slightly from company to company.
But there is one factor that does help businesses differentiate: a quality buying experience. One study found that businesses that create a unique, seamless buying experience have a 62 percent higher chance of converting a high margin sale.
However, creating a unique buying experience to differentiate within the manufacturing industry is easier said than done — particularly for those without aligned marketing and sales teams. Without proper alignment, manufacturing businesses will find it difficult to engage customers with the right messaging at the right time, which makes the buying experience less than ideal.
The state of sales and marketing within manufacturing industry
For many manufacturing companies, features don’t sell products, salespeople do. But for salespeople to effectively motivate prospects to make a purchase, they need to facilitate a seamless buying experience.
What does a seamless buying experience look like? For starters, it involves providing the right content to the right buyer at the right time. Additionally, it means sharing content in a way that’s not boring or linear– that reflects the journey and needs of the individual buyer and opportunity. But to deliver better experiences, sales teams need access to marketing material that truly tells a story. That could include video testimonials, white papers discussing the state of the industry or data that showcases the effectiveness of the company’s products.
However, marketing material in the manufacturing industry is often skewed toward product marketing — focusing too heavily on product features and technical analysis rather than explaining value propositions. In an industry where very few differences exist among products from brand to brand, this type of collateral is not always effective.
But many marketing departments are at a loss about which pieces of content perform best, what the optimal timing is for certain pieces of collateral, or what messaging drives conversions, making it difficult for them to craft more effective, value-driven pieces of collateral. In fact, just 12 percent of manufacturing marketers believe they are successful at tracking the ROI from the content used by sales.
That’s where collaboration between sales and marketing teams comes into play.
How marketing and sales departments can better align
As a manufacturing business leader in a competitive landscape, you can no longer afford to manage marketing and sales teams in silos. Alignment of these two departments will drastically improve your customer experience offerings and help maximize revenue. Here’s how:
- Align revenue/pipeline responsibilities: The first step is to align of sales and marketing goals. Both teams should be held responsible for revenue numbers — not just the sales team. That way neither team can use the other as a scapegoat when numbers are down. Instead, both teams feel pressure to work together to not only drive leads, but also close them.
- Focus on a better buying experience: Marketing and sales departments can become better aligned by focusing on the buyer. B2B buyers have increased expectations for the buying experience. They want the information they need at any time, and expect to interact with sales only when necessary. Marketing and sales teams can work together to develop the content that buyers want and expect — that means collateral focused on unique buyer pain points and your company’s value proposition.
- Use content analytics: It’s easier for this collaboration to occur when both departments understand which content helps close the most deals. The right content analytics tools can track which types of content are most successful, and offer recommendations for each prospect. Marketers can then gain access to the platform to determine how each piece of content performed and how new collateral can be tweaked.
- Spend time together: Lastly, marketing and sales teams need to spend more time together — whether that’s regular meetings, lunches or happy hours. Without face-to-face communication, both teams will miss the most important input necessary to fill the gaps. During these conversations, marketers should be asking sales people for insight into feedback from customers and what its like to be in the room with a prospect. And sales teams need to work with marketing to get on the same page when it comes to the company story they tell.
Reaping the benefits of collaboration
If taken seriously, the alignment of sales and marketing departments within your organization can revolutionize the buying experience you offer customers, which in turn will impact your bottom line. In fact, a recent report found that 53 percent of the buyers make purchase decisions based on the buying experience.
But to get there, it’s important to follow the steps outlined above. Align your responsibilities, focus on the end customer, use content analytics and spend more time together. As we head into the new year, now is the time to set yourself apart from the competition.
Showpad is the second company Pieterjan has founded. In 2010 he co-founded the mobile development agency, In The Pocket and still serves on its board. Prior to In The Pocket, Pieterjan held senior roles at Netlog and Accenture and holds masters degrees in both Communication Sciences and International Business.