Future Success Rests on Strong Sales and Marketing Teams
From corrugated packaging and folding carton production to metal fabrication and plastic injection molding, manufacturers across the country are experiencing stronger competition, longer and more complex sales cycles, and greater scrutiny into how sales and marketing practices are impacting the bottom line. As a manufacturer, it’s critical to understand how your sales and marketing infrastructure plays an important role in these areas. But, what do we mean by sales and marketing infrastructure?
With this, we’re referring to the people on the team, the technologies, and tools being used, the processes in place, and the resources (financial and otherwise) allocated. Each of these elements makes a significant impact on the overall performance and success of the sales and marketing functions, and they’re all connected:
- A weak or misaligned team won’t be successful despite strong technology
- A lack of proper tooling will hinder an otherwise strong-performing team
- Poorly defined processes will lead to bottlenecks and breakdowns
- Misallocated resources will ultimately hinder results from other elements
The last thing manufacturers need today is for these revenue-driving elements to be misplaced, unaligned, and underperforming. Here, we’ll help you step back and evaluate these elements to understand whether each is successfully playing its part in your business.
Key Questions to Ask About Your Sales and Marketing Infrastructure
What is Your Sales Team Prioritizing?
Your sales team is at the forefront of the entire revenue generation function. Every day, they’re talking to highly qualified prospects that match your target profile, identifying their pains and needs, recommending the best possible solutions, and closing those deals to help your manufacturing business grow. That is what they’re doing…right?
If not, it’s time to evaluate what’s occupying your sales team’s energy. It’s common to find sales teams dealing with account management matters, customer service issues, and even production needs. Clearly, a sales team that is only selling at 60% capacity won’t deliver any more than 60% success. Let your sales team sell.
How Are You Marketing Your Capabilities?
It’s common for manufacturers to lean on marketing methods from the pre-pandemic era. While trade shows and other methods are still valid, the post-pandemic customer is more focused on researching solutions on his or her own before making any kind of decision. How is your sales and marketing infrastructure set up to support that? If you haven’t been seeing results from your marketing strategy, it’s time to pull back and re-evaluate.
Whatever decision is made, it’s important to take a holistic approach to your marketing. Outbound solutions such as email blasts, direct mail, trade shows, advertising, direct outreach, and social media put you front and center for your target audience to see. Meanwhile, inbound marketing can be used to position your business where people are looking for solutions providers. Examples include SEO, conversion rate optimization, email nurturing, pay per click advertising, paid social, and more. The combination of these ensures your manufacturing business shows up when the time is right.
How Are Sales and Marketing Speaking to One Another?
Does your sales and marketing infrastructure contain the tools and technology needed to track prospects throughout their buyer journey? Is your marketing team able to seamlessly transition a qualified lead to the sales team for follow-up? It’s critical that these two functions work together and that they have the tools and resources to do it.
Digging deeper, is there a front-end process in place that reviews each opportunity that comes in before it arrives on your sales team’s list? This is particularly important today, as your manufacturing business can no longer accept every opportunity that comes in. You need to be focused on what’s truly best for your business — your wheelhouse capabilities, products, and services. A front-end sales process covers two fronts: 1) ensuring that only the best, most qualified opportunities are transferred to the sales team for closing, and 2) time-consuming nurturing and prospecting activity is handled separately, allowing the sales team to focus on doing what it does best.
How Are You Allocating Your Sales and Marketing Resources?
If you’re looking to grow your manufacturing business, it stands that you’d be making an investment in sales and marketing infrastructure. Often, leaders associate that with team expansion — hiring leaders and team members to specialize in certain areas under them. Obviously, this comes with a significant cost in salary, onboarding and training, having them build out and implement a strategy, and the time needed to start seeing results. At best, you’re looking at anywhere from a few to several months before you’ll start to see any return, and in reality it’ll likely be more than a year before you see true ROI.
Today, it’s far better for manufacturers looking to strengthen their competition, market presence, and pipelines to seek outside partners. The advantage here is that they already have the sales and marketing infrastructure built out and ready to run for you. In a matter of weeks to a couple months, they’ll be up and running and already deep into your target markets — helping you target the most ideal opportunities and build new relationships. And, this all comes at a fraction of the cost of hiring an internal team.
Is Your Sales and Marketing Infrastructure Ready for the Road Ahead?
If you’re having doubts about whether your sales and marketing teams can help you achieve your growth goals, rest assured that a solution is available. Athena partners with manufacturers across multiple industries to help them implement a holistic marketing approach combined with a structured front-end sales solution. The result is an outsourced sales and marketing infrastructure that is ready to be put to work for you.