In Manufacturing, Lengthy Sales Cycles Remain a Challenge

Whether you’re in metals, corrugated, flexible packaging, electronics, plastics, or any other manufacturing industry, you’re likely dealing with an extensive sales cycle. In these sectors, the manufacturing sales process can range anywhere from six months to 18 months — and in some cases, even longer. This is painful for sales leaders who have revenue growth goals.

Unfortunately, long sales cycles are just the beginning. Adjacent issues that further impact the manufacturing sales process include:

  • Sales team productivity dropping due to new, non-revenue generating workloads
  • Reduced sales accountability due to less focus on sales and revenue targets
  • Thin sales pipelines due to infrequent follow-up with target prospects
  • Open deals and quotes stagnating due to a lack of follow-up

Despite These Challenges, You Have Goals to Hit

That’s why a proactive, consistent approach to new business development is needed today more than ever. If lengthy sales cycles have been a problem for your organization, it may be worth taking a new approach — one that leverages a fundamental aspect of manufacturing itself: the division of labor.

Rather than burdening your sales team with non-revenue-generating responsibilities such as account management, customer service, and other administrative duties, the division of labor concept takes many of the responsibilities from the front end of the sales process and delegates them to a separate team. Most often, this is done through an outsourced business development partner. In addition to removing non-sales tasks from your team’s plate, going this route helps to accelerate the manufacturing sales process by:

Increasing awareness to keep your brand top of mind — With most of the early communication in the sales process delegated to a specific team, prospects hear from your business more often via nurturing activities and outreach efforts. Over time, this repetition helps prospects recognize your brand and remember you as needs change.

Maintaining more consistent communication — Staying in touch with prospects throughout the marketing and sales processes is vital to success. It can take anywhere from a dozen to several dozen touches in order to even set up a meeting or call, so having a dedicated team to take care of this on your behalf maintains that process while your sales team stays focused on higher-value tasks.

Focusing on the right deals — The front end of the sales process we’re describing here isn’t just useful for staying in touch with active prospects. It’s also useful for weeding out requests and contacts that don’t fit your business’ wheelhouse manufacturing capabilities. A key learning here in the post-pandemic era is that businesses need to be focused on what they do best in order to maximize revenue and productivity. Let your outsourced business development partner be the first line of defense.

Moving quickly when an opportunity arises — In today’s world, you don’t need open quotes staying open for months on end. When an opportunity to quote arises, it should be followed up on consistently to answer questions and ensure your business is the one that gets the business. A lack of consistent follow-through on quotes tells prospects that their business isn’t your priority. Make sure you send the right message and keep the deal moving.

Transform the Manufacturing Sales Process with Athena

Building upon the division of labor concept, Athena has developed a structured front-end sales methodology that does exactly what has been explored here — and much, much more. To date, we’ve helped manufacturers across numerous sectors implement an infrastructure that streamlines and enhances their sales function — helping to increase brand awareness within target markets, grow pipelines with more qualified prospects, and move deals through the sales cycle faster — all while making sales teams more productive so they can generate the success thrive been looking for.

Connect with us today to learn more about this proven process and how we can help you.