Manufacturers, It’s Time to Take Back Control in the Buying Cycle

Modern Marketing


The swift digitization of the manufacturing sector continues—it’s no longer just focused on technologies that improve production and system efficiencies. Now, cloud computing is driving the creation of a network of connected machines that act as an intelligent network that can predict failures and trigger maintenance processes autonomously. This change has created a new reality for business buyers and manufacturers alike who are both becoming digitally savvy.

The Sales and Marketing Blind Spot

However, when it comes to sales and marketing, very little has changed despite significant changes in buyer behaviors—the result of which has decreased the volume of leads that sales receives. With the increase in communication vehicles and channels, buyer expectations are simultaneously increasing. McKinsey research shows that B2B buyers typically use six different channels throughout their decision-making journey, and almost 65% will come away from it frustrated by inconsistent experiences. The result? As much as two-thirds of B2B deals are lost before a formal request for proposal (RFP) process even begins.

The case is clear that it’s time to build evidence-based sales processes and practices that are suitable for rising buyer expectations, rather than relying on gut instincts. What’s the way forward? The new report by Hanover Research, Increase Revenue in Manufacturing: Tools, Strategies, and Sales-Marketing Alignment, details why sales and marketing departments need to take a modern, digital approach to revenue growth.

Not a Campaign, But a Process

Although buyers are no longer as reliant on sales information in shaping their purchase decisions, they are still—perhaps more than ever—in need of expertise and assistance. Among the many customers we work with in the industrial manufacturing sector and in adjacent sectors like automotive, medical devices, electronics, and aerospace, the commonality is that their approach to sales leads is no less rigorous than their approach to engineering.

Generating more leads isn’t a short-term, “one and done” campaign. Instead, it requires using technology to build a set of cross-company processes that enable an evidence-based approach to sales and marketing to drive growth. With marketing integrated into the sales cycle, armed with a true understanding of buyer needs and interests and the ability to tell the stories they want to hear, there is no reason why your brand cannot become a trusted partner rather than just another supplier.

This alignment of sales and marketing teams around revenue growth, enabled by state-of-the-art technology, reflects a broader change in culture where cross-functional teams are as to open to change and experimentation as their peers in engineering. Put another way, the whole company goes digital rather than half of it.

Equip Your Organization with the Right Tools

Marketing automation, paired with a customer relationship management (CRM) system, enables manufacturers to engage with customers and prospects throughout the entire sales cycle with relevant information at the right time. With these systems, it’s possible to score buyers based on how they engage with your marketing programs and then nurture them based on their interests, behaviors, and preferences.

Your marketing team can orchestrate intelligent campaigns triggered by your buyer’s behaviors and actions, and your sales team is able to understand which prospects are interested and how close they are to making a purchasing decision—all without losing track of leads that may not be as far along in their buying journey.

Account-based marketing (ABM), a concept gaining traction among B2B businesses, takes this a step further and looks at your marketing in the context of specific accounts, industries, or territories. These are the customers and prospects who are the difference between success and failure. In fact, 84% marketers with experience of ABM say it outperforms other marketing investments, according to ITSMA.

Take Back the Reins

The internet is your digital showroom, with buyers using it to shortlist potential suppliers and vendors weeks and months before they ever consider making contact with a salesperson. The old concept of the sales support function has to be replaced with a more progressive concept of marketing’s role in the business. Manufacturing companies need their marketing departments to lead from the front, supported by technology stacks, aligned with sales goals, and optimizing all activity to improve ROI.

The digitization of the manufacturing sector driven by the rise in data volumes, computational power, and connectivity will continue. We’re a long way from the lean revolution of the 1970s or the automation that took off at the start of the century. It’s time to invite sales and marketing to the party.

Interested in learning more about how you can increase productivity and ROI for your manufacturing organization? Watch the on-demand webinar, How to Manage the Digital Disruption of the Manufacturing Sales Cycle, with Debbie Qaqish, Chief Strategy Officer at The Pedowitz Group and Bryan Gassler, Director of Marketing at Xylem. We’ll be discussing how we proved time to value within the initial pilot and quickly put the solution into production.