Written by Rich Dale
25 04 2022

5 Strategies to Grow Manufacturing Sales in Uncertain Times

The manufacturing industry is uniquely sensitive to most types of market fluctuations. Recession, civil unrest, warfare, or, as we recently found out, pandemics can have massive detrimental impacts. As an owner of a manufacturing business, it is critical that you prepare for these inevitable challenges.

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One of the most robust methods to continue driving sales is to employ fresh and effective growth strategies supported by manufacturing CRM and the reliable data it produces. So what strategies can you add to your arsenal?

Rather watch? This article was inspired by our webinar on Manufacturing Growth Strategies, watch on Youtube.

Increase market penetration with resellers

Every business owner is aware of the need to increase market penetration. Actual success, however, only comes via the right techniques. One of the most effective manufacturing sales strategies embraced by industry veterans Wayne Cramer and Davy Simms was to work with strategic reselling partners. Try to team up with resellers who already distribute similar products in your target market. Their infrastructure and expertise can work in your favour to penetrate unexplored markets and generate sales growth. These resellers will already have insights into the market that you can take advantage of without doing the legwork individually. The main challenge for you, then, is reseller management.

‘In terms of our sales growth, we doubled sales last year.

We’re hoping to at least double, if not triple, this year.’

Davy Simms, Sales Director, Photonic Measurements

Reseller management & training

When everything goes as planned, your reseller can accelerate sales by allowing quicker market penetration. However, resellers need to be incentivized to recommend your products over others that may already be selling reliably in those markets. This is where reseller management comes in. This can be done through a monitoring plan that evaluates each reseller monthly, or a dedicated reseller manager can be employed to handle the relationship between the company and reseller more directly. 

This management process consists of regular reseller interaction, working through potential sales leads, and ensuring these are followed up on through your manufacturing CRM and regular check-ins. The key takeaway is that resellers must take responsibility for following through on sales leads. For your company’s part, it means you must invest the time to properly train reseller employees and build a relationship with the reseller.

‘I knew that we needed to get all the processes and management systems and people in place to manage them. In preparation for that growth drive – so that it could be sustainable for us – Flowlens has been quite a big part of that for us.’

Wayne Cramer, MD, GWE Group

Training potential resellers is a crucial step to ensuring the relationship produces results. Typically this training should focus on the message your company wants to convey to potential customers. During these training sessions, resellers can be instructed to follow specific manufacturing sales techniques with company-approved training materials, supported by manufacturing CRM software. 

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Data tracking and analysis

CRM softwares for the manufacturing industry like Flowlens allow for in-depth marketing and sales data collection. These programs help you track data points like enquiry counts and follow-ups. Those are then broken down by channel (e.g. LinkedIn, events, cold outreach, your company website, etc.). This data can then be analysed to tell you which marketing strategies are working, how often enquiries are being converted to quotes, and which ultimately become orders. Other insights can include historic sales trends over specific times of the year as well as international sales trends. This can all be used to allocate resources to locations and periods that have not been fully explored. Simply put, this data can be used to evaluate your manufacturing sales strategies to determine if they are effective. 

‘So, we look and see what our sales activity is. Is that turning into quotes? Then is that turning into orders?’ Davy Simms, Sales Director, Photonic Managements

Internal and external marketing teams

Relying on reseller manufacturing sales strategies helps, but it is also important to have an internal marketing process. The key advantage of this is that your company can fly its flag in the digital space and create more brand awareness through regular social media postings and email marketing. This can result in a tangible increase in enquiries which can then be handled internally or passed on to the relevant reseller. Make sure your reseller managers follow up on them afterward, logging progress in your manufacturing CRM. A dedicated marketing team will be able to work full time specifically on increasing your company’s exposure whereas a reseller will only devote a portion of their time and resources to your products. 

‘We’ve never really internally had a marketing team. So now, we’ve started putting out regular social media posts across a lot of platforms, and email marketing. This is all pretty brand new to us. But what it is doing, it’s generating a lot more awareness and generating enquiries.’ Wayne Cramer, MD, GWE Group

It may not always be practical to hire an entire marketing team, though. In these cases, you may find it more cost-effective to hire external marketing specialists. These companies will come up with manufacturing sales strategies that can then be implemented by either a dedicated marketer or as an additional role for an existing employee. This is a cost-effective way to slowly build up your internal marketing capability. 

So they come up with the strategy, and then our internal people actually send out the posts.’ Wayne Cramer, MD, GWE Group

Optimising your route to market approach

It is important to understand how your potential customers interact with your products. For example, some industries follow a tender process where a potential job is priced in the hope of ultimately winning the contract. Customers are likely to stick with items that were priced during this early stage because they have already done the legwork to specify and define their technical requirements. In such cases, it makes sense to engage with the individuals who are making these early decisions and ensure that they are aware of your product and its relevant benefits. 

What we’re trying to do is get known earlier in the design process. So we’re trying to talk to process engineers.’ Davy Simms, Sales Director, Photonic Managements

Using Flowlens to manage manufacturing sales strategies

Growing your manufacturing sales is no trivial task and it always comes with significant risk. However, these risks can be limited through strategic marketing plans and a network of motivated and well-managed resellers. Manufacturing CRM systems like Flowlens can further reduce risk as they can be used to effectively manage sales leads, collect data on sales trends, and allow for standardisation in terms of training and marketing strategies. To learn more about how Flowlens can help increase sales growth, watch a demo, or start a trial today.

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