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Guest blogger - Emma Orton is a Digital Marketing Specialist at Matter Solutions
Lead generation is critical in keeping manufacturers’ sales and marketing pipeline alive and thriving. Among the many strategies to acquire leads, some are essential to manufacturers’ sales success. Companies in the manufacturing sector should give some thought to the five powerful ways of keeping leads flowing and generating high-quality prospects.
1. Content Marketing
Content marketing costs money (although far lesser than events) and involves sweat equity (if content creation occurs in-house). It is a process that, over time, earns manufacturers trust or reinforces their authority.
Engaging technical buyers, procurement officers, and engineers through quality content are essential. It builds early relationships that can sustain and be leveraged over the long term. Given that many industrial sales cycles are 8 to 12 months or longer, the seeds of trust sown by articles, blogs, ebooks, white papers, webinars, videos, infographics, and podcasts, can grow qualified leads, convert leads to customers, and earn their loyalty and referrals.
- Manufacturers own the data (at least most of it)
- Engagement occurs continually, and relationships are sustained
- Cost per lead decreases over time
Manufacturers have numerous opportunities to share, influence and sell by choosing the most useful content formats, creating valuable content and disseminating content on the right online channels.
2. Marketing-Sales Alignment
Where before the marketing team had the job of developing a list of leads and sales was responsible for converting them to clients, lead generation and management today is all about collaboration. Salesforce has tonnes to offer when looking at leads in the pipeline, and you can consult verified Salesforce Gold Partners to find a custom solution for your business.
Marketers nurture relationships and move qualified leads to salespeople who make successful sales. Leads who are ready to purchase will have more questions that the sales team needs to address. Proper alignment between marketing and sales teams ensures effective nurturing that helps achieve quicker sales and higher conversion rates. Some points to ponder over include:
- What leads are thinking and doing at every stage of the funnel
- What behaviors indicate that leads have moved to the next stage
- What behaviors suggest that prospects are ready to consider purchasing
- How sales-qualified leads will be handed over to salespeople
- How leads will be handed back to marketing if they don’t make the purchase
3. Target decision-shapers
The B2B buying process is complex and involves multiple decision-makers. However, there is often one individual who wields more influence than others in pushing for or against a purchase. This mobilizer may not necessarily be a senior-level executive, but he/she is a successful deal-maker and/or a respected strategic adviser.
Identifying mobilizers is worth the time and effort as it will help marketers get the important break that kickstarts the buying process. The big question is, how can marketers identify decision-shapers? Here are some questions to ask the contact:
- What is the impact of the challenge on the organization? How was it previously addressed?
- What organizational factors are responsible for the issue? How is the issue affecting stakeholders?
- How are decisions such as this usually made? What was the outcome of the most recent decision?
- What role does the contact play in the decision-making process? Which key decision-makers need convincing?
- What ultimately makes a big difference in getting such projects off the ground?
4. Timely connections
Referral sites and online marketplaces connecting manufacturers with buyers should be part of any lead generation strategy. Thomas Network offers a large and active network of B2B buyers and industrial suppliers. MFG.com is a manufacturer’s directory where buyers – typically engineers, industrial designers, and sourcing officers – post-RFQs and receive quotes from contract manufacturers across the globe.
As some of these buyers have an immediate need for products and services, manufacturers have the opportunity to establish relationships quickly and expedite the sales process.
5. Existing customers
Existing clients are a good source of new leads. Marketers can leverage them in different ways to fill up the leads pipeline, such as:
- Requesting for testimonials and reviews on websites such as Yelp and Yellow Pages
- Asking existing customers directly for the names of other companies that might be interested. Marketing managers can consider the following tactics:
- Inform clients that they are implementing a referral program and ask for names of other potential clients.
- Ask clients for leads at the time of post-purchase follow-up. As clients will have starting using and hopefully benefiting from the product, they are likely to be helpful.
- Make a similar request during the end-of-the-year conversation with clients where the engagement tends to be casual and personal.
Manufacturers should explore these essential lead generation strategies in-depth, put them into action and track results to prioritize investment and effort in an informed manner.