In an earlier post, we took a deep dive into the three sales KPIs manufacturers expect to grow the most over the next two years. For each metric, we covered what it was and why it was important to manufacturing companies. In this blog, we’ll take a similar approach for some of the top sales technologies manufacturers should consider implementing.
As before, our ranking data comes from Salesforce’s recent “State of Sales” report, a comprehensive assessment of the trends and challenges sales reps and leaders must consider now and in the future. Featuring survey responses from nearly 3,000 sales professionals, the report is designed to provide a snapshot look at how the role of sales is evolving across industries. For manufacturers — whose front office systems are often perceived as lagging behind those on their shop floors — a consistent emphasis on technology’s ability to drive fast change is especially pertinent.
Sales Technology #1: Artificial intelligence
Sales executives and managers in the manufacturing space expect to see the use of artificial intelligence grow by 248%.
How it can help manufacturers: When it comes to sales, artificial intelligence has the power to make reps more efficient and effective. Built into your CRM, for instance, AI can analyze your data to score leads and opportunities and predict which ones are most likely to convert, helping sellers see where they should be spending their time.
And while this is a feature that would benefit any sales team, it could prove essential for those in the manufacturing space, especially sub-verticals focused on large capital expense products. As noted in a Sales Performance Management report from IBM, quota setting can be difficult for such organizations due to “sporadic or episodic purchasing patterns. Many products are not continuously or frequently purchased by the customer. Heavy equipment or infrastructure products, for example, might only be purchased once every several years — or decades.”
The report goes on to suggest a “deeper investigation of customer characteristics” as a possible remedy. CRM AI is designed to deliver exactly that.
Sales Technology #2: Marketing automation
Sales executives and managers in the manufacturing space expect to see the use of marketing automation grow by 176%.
How it can help manufacturers: These days, 79% of B2B marketers say email is the most effective distribution channel for demand gen efforts. On the flip side, only 18% of marketers think outbound strategies net the highest quality leads to pass to sales. This disparity points to the importance of B2B marketing automation.
For manufacturers specifically, marketing automation’s ability to trigger unique customer journeys is perhaps its main selling point. Organizations that target prospects and leads across multiple distribution channels, for instance, can do so with segmented email nurture campaigns. It’s as easy as publishing different content and landing pages for your different audiences to find. Wholesalers might submit their contact info to download a relevant eBook, say, while retailers will do the same to download another. From there, each person automatically receives a different series of emails designed to move them along the path to becoming a customer.
The best part? These nurturing campaigns only need to be set up once in order to play out at scale.
Sales Technology #3: Partner relationship management
Sales executives and managers in the manufacturing space expect to see the use of partner relationship management solutions grow by 110%.
How it can help manufacturers: As mentioned above, many manufacturers do business across a number of different channels. To hit strong sales numbers across all of them, your best bet is to develop strong partnerships. According to Salesforce, 75% of revenue in the manufacturing industry comes from partners. That’s an absolutely massive number.
As the name implies, partner relationship management solutions are a great way to build and develop those relationships. By providing the same tools that make your internal team successful via a CRM-powered portal or website, you can bring immense value to your partners. And the benefit of that value is two-fold. One, it makes your partners more effective, which will in turn boost your numbers. And two, it will make those partners want to keep doing business with you.
If you’d like to learn more about how these technologies could help improve your organization’s manufacturing sales strategy, let us know. We’d love to talk.