Must-Have Marketing & Sales Features For Industrial B2B Companies: The Definitive Guide

Businesses in the industrial B2B sector face a challenge. As technology rapidly evolves, younger decision-makers take charge, and new trends develop; the elements that create effective sales and marketing strategies shift.

So, in today’s fast-paced world, what are the absolute must-haves of an industrial marketing and sales strategy?

If you’ve ever asked yourself this question, then you’re in the right place. In this article, we’re examining seven essential features that will revolutionize your marketing and sales processes – and help to get you the results you’ve been hoping for.

Each of these individual elements serves its own purpose. Of course, the success of each also depends on the success of the others.

That’s right; while each of these elements can indeed survive alone, they’ll only thrive while working in tandem with their counterparts.

Let’s take a closer look…

Feature 1: Brand Positioning

From your office space to your print marketing, website, social media presence, and customer service style – your brand extends to every area of your business.

And your brand positioning determines what kind of results you get from your brand decisions. As defined by marketing expert Philip Kotler, brand positioning is “the act of designing the company’s offering and image to occupy a distinctive place in the mind of the target market.”

“By shaping consumer preferences, brand positioning strategies are directly linked to consumer loyalty, consumer-based brand equity, and the willingness to purchase from the brand,” says an article in The Branding Journal, “Effective brand positioning can be referred as the extent to which a brand is perceived as favorable, different, and credible in consumers’ minds.”

And research shows just how powerful effective brand positioning can be. In fact, brands that are consistently presented see an average revenue increase of 23%. And B2B companies with brands perceived as “strong” generate a higher EBIT margin than others.

So, how do you position your brand so that it stands out from the competition, resonates with target buyers, and is literally unforgettable?

First, Define Your Target Buyer

A successful industrial marketing and sales strategy starts by defining your ideal customer.

The challenges and pain points of these real people will ultimately help you shape a brand message that resonates specifically with them.

Of course, in the B2B sector, this task is two-fold. You will need to define both the companies you want to do business with, and then, define the decision-makers within those organizations.

Start by defining the specific businesses you want to target. To do this, ask yourself:

What is the ideal company we want to attract? What differentiates this company from others? In what industries do they operate? How many people work there? What’s their annual revenue? Do they serve a tight geographical region, or does their business operate across the US or around the world? What do they buy from you and your competition?

Answering these key questions will help you define the specific organizations you want to do business with, and that will help you craft messaging that resonates with those businesses.

Now, It’s Time to Narrow It Down

Think about the decision-makers whose trust you must earn before making a sale – or even before a sales conversion can occur.

Ask yourself these key questions:

Who – specifically – interacts with your sales team during their company’s buying process? What status do these individuals hold within their organization? What kind of challenges, pain points, or roadblocks are they experiencing that lead them your way in the first place?

Then, keep asking:

What information do these decision-makers want and need? What are they trying to learn during their buying processes? What questions will they need answered before making a purchasing decision? And of course, what expertise can you offer that your competition might not?

Answering these questions will help define the individual decision-makers you will be interacting with, and that will help your messaging truly hit the mark.

Next, Study the Competition

“Who is your competition?” asks an article in the Harvard Business Review, “The question seems so simple, but a company that defines its competitive set too narrowly can miss disruptive attackers and high-potential growth opportunities.”

That’s why, as one Hubspot article puts it succinctly, “…it’s important to analyze your competition,”

Conduct in-depth research identifying your competitors, and also delving into their practices and processes. You must know your competitors inside and out, and also understand how the competition is positioning their brand – in order to effectively compete.

Ask yourself:

What products or services do your competitors offer? What are they doing that resonates with buyers in your target audience? What are their strengths and weaknesses? What marketing strategies are they using successfully? What marketing strategies aren’t they tapping into? What is their position in the current market?

Defining and learning about the competition will give you invaluable information that helps set your company apart from the crowd.

Finally, Identify What Makes Your Brand Unique

In a study on brand positioning strategies for industrial firms providing customer solutions, Emerald Insight points out that industrial managers need to “…acquire and/or develop capability configurations that differentiate their brand positioning from competitors”

As you compare your product or service to your competitors, you’ll begin to see strengths and weaknesses, and you might find that one of their weaknesses is your strength.

This is what makes your brand unique; and it’s the perfect starting point for positioning your brand in the market.

At Last, Craft Your Message

Once you’ve identified both the ideal companies and the specific individuals whose trust and attention must be earned, your job is to capture their attention, show them that you understand their pain-points, prove you can solve their problems, and lastly, gain their loyalty.

To do this, ask yourself:

Who exactly will you help? What will you help them accomplish? What are the most important benefits you deliver to buyers and companies? What kinds of problems will those companies commonly experience that will lead them to you? What makes your company different and unique? Specifically, what actions do you want them to take?

Defining these points will pave the way for your messaging to be clear, and to resonate with the buyers who matter most.

Feature 2: Your Company Website

Today, 81% of consumers search online before buying. That’s a high percentage of people typing search criteria into Google, Yahoo, Bing, and other platforms.

In the industrial marketing sector those numbers are even higher. Specifically, 89% of decision-makers go first to search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo for information on the job.

That means your website is a key player in capturing your target buyers’ attention, nurturing leads, and driving sales.

Today, simply having a website is not enough. Your website may very well be the first interaction a target buyer has with your business – and that means it must have all the compelling, convincing, and persuasive elements that will convert prospects into leads, and feed them into your sales funnel.

For that to happen, your website must be all of the following:

Beautifully & Professionally Designed

Make sure your website looks outstanding – and is designed with your core buyers in mind. According to one study, of all the factors that were mentioned for rejecting or mis-trusting a website, 94% were design related.

Built On a Flexible Content Management System

You want your website built on a flexible system that keeps data safe, is easy to manage, and enables growth. Glitches, downtime, or security breaches can have real and negative effects on your business performance.

Fast-Paced

Speed is critical when converting buyers, ensuring customer satisfaction, and winning loyal clients. In fact, a 1 second delay (or 3 seconds of waiting) decreases customer satisfaction by about 16%. And 40% of shoppers abandon a website entirely if it takes over 3 seconds to load, says a report by Kissmetrics.

Mobile-Friendly

“With the stratospheric rise in the use of mobile devices… you’d be doing yourself a huge disservice if your website is not designed to respond and adjust to mobile and other devices.” says branding expert Brian Rashid. It is essential for visitors to easily view your website content on desktop, iPads, iPhones, Androids, and any other device.

Value-Driven

Your website absolutely must be equipped with a robust Learning Center that’s packed with helpful, value-driven, and educational content for each of your buyers at every stage of their buying journey.

Search Engine Optimized

“SEO helps the engines figure out what each page is about, and how it may be useful to humans,” says a Moz article. Search engine optimization determines how high your company is listed in search results, and can have a measurable effect on bringing the right buyers to your site.

Customer Journey-Ready

Your copy should be written specifically to inform and fill the needs of each core buyer persona at all stages of the buying process. And, it needs to be designed with intended paths for each of those ideal buyers to land on your site and move toward a form submission.

Sales Funnel Ready

Connected directly to a CRM and/or marketing automation software platform so your Sales and Marketing teams can easily view analytics, collect lead intelligence, and quickly take action as opportunities are generated.

Your website is the hub of your business. And by making your website a value-driven, easy-to-use resource designed specifically with your target buyers in mind – you’ll be on your way to getting the results you deserve.

Feature 3: Website Traffic

According to the IEEE Engineering 360 study, buying power within manufacturing organizations continues shifting to younger engineers and technical professionals.

As we saw above, 89% of those professionals go first to search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo for information on the job. That means manufacturers must shift their strategies accordingly.

The bottom line is, if you’re not putting a huge amount of energy into generating web traffic, you’re missing out on that above mentioned 89%.

Website traffic generation gives manufacturers highly-targeted, 100% measurable channels for attracting buyers. And those buyers are already searching for solutions… in your industry.

It’s time to prioritize:

Search Engine Optimization

The first five results on Google get 67% of the clicks. That means it is critical to prioritize search engine optimization – so that you show up within that top five results.

Search engine optimization helps you to generate warm leads who are already taking the initiative to find your specific solutions and services.

Content Marketing Guest Authorship

“B2B buyers thoroughly research their purchase decisions,” says research by Forrester, “Leveraging the large body of codified knowledge available for mature solutions, buyers conduct significant research before they engage with the vendor’s sales team.”

When you guest author on industry trade journal websites, you have the opportunity to provide value for your target buyers, and also to establish yourself as a leader and authority in your particular industry.

Social Media Marketing

Social media is one of the most effective tools for building relationships with clients. In fact, effective social media marketing has been found to significantly increase buyer loyalty.

According to the Social Media Examiner, 97% of marketers are currently participating in social media – but 85% or participants aren’t sure what social media tools are the best to use. Get smart and leverage intelligent social media opportunities to drive traffic to your site.

Feature 4: Lead Generation

“As marketers, we spend absurd amounts of time and resources creating content and planning campaigns,” says an article on Unbounce.

But, what if you had a lead generation strategy that actually worked? What if your lead generation strategy wasn’t just a drain on your time, money, and energy – but a way of getting measurable leads that had real promise for your business?

Here’s how:

Get Your Website Working For You

Your website has the power to generate tangible leads for your business.

And yet, because industrial products and services often come in the form of highly technical, customized, complex solutions for unique customer applications – buying decisions rarely happen in the snap of a finger.

In fact, according to IEEE Engineering 360’s 2016 Industrial Buy Cycle Study…the average industrial buying cycle is a whopping 12 weeks long.

Why does it take such a long time for these buyers to make a decision?

Industrial buying decisions have major impact on organizations. And so, some major research takes place before making them. According to a survey by Forrester, 74% of business buyers said they conduct more than half of their research online before making an offline purchase.

So, how do you generate leads from these website visitors who are sales qualified, but not necessarily sales ready?

Generating Leads – Throughout Every Stage of the Buying Cycle

To do this, your business needs a Lead Generation Strategy that appeals to your buyers all throughout that long buying process – with a particular focus on those who are still researching, learning, comparing, and evaluating their buying options.

Those who are researching are still in the process of gathering information. Those comparing and evaluating competitors want proof that you can solve their problems.

So, what can you do to meet them where they are?

Provide problem-solving content like white papers, eBooks, and other tools for which these buyers will trade names and email addresses. Give them case studies, buyer’s guides, and ROI calculators in exchange for contact information.

By providing value-driven content, your company will already be top-of-mind when these buyers are ready to make a buying decision, and they’ll have developed a sense of trust with you that doesn’t exist with your competitors.

Feature 5: Sales Enablement

According to HubSpot, Sales Enablement is the “technology, processes, and content that empower sales teams to sell efficiently at a higher velocity.”

Unfortunately, in the industrial sector, too many companies don’t have an effective sales enablement strategy in place.

Instead, skeptical sales professionals push back on lead generation initiatives because from their past experiences, “internet leads” never end in a sale.

As frustrating as this old-school mindset might be, it’s important to remember that these salespeople have made a living pursuing cold leads. But, they’ve almost certainly never been properly trained – or fitted with the right tools and processes – for successfully pursuing inbound leads.

What these salespeople don’t realize is, the cold leads they’re used to chasing are worlds away from the inbound leads generated from a smart, internet-focused lead generation strategy.

To perfect your sales enablement, follow these three steps:

First, Identify the Difference Between a Cold Lead and an Inbound Lead

The biggest difference between a cold lead and an inbound lead is that the inbound lead already has a need. While they might not be sales-ready, but are very likely sales-qualified.

A cold lead, on the other hand, may have never experienced a need in the first place. All you know is that they appear to fit your ideal customer profile.

Be transparent, and make sure your marketing and sales professionals understand this core difference.

Next, Spend Ample Time With Inbound Leads

Too many salespeople spend far too little time nurturing inbound leads, because they enter into these relationships already believing they’re dead ends.

In fact, according to HubSpot, 44% of salespeople give up after one follow up. Yet, 80% of sales require five follow-ups.

This is a huge, missed opportunity. It’s time to close the gap.

Finally, Collect Valuable Lead Intelligence

Today, there are endless CRM platforms to help track engagement with leads, but also a growing number of effective inbound sales enablement tools that leverage time for salespeople.

These tools help collect lead intelligence; showing your team what pages leads have viewed and revealing actions taken on your website. They score and segment website visitors based on types of content viewed, forms submitted, and industries in which they operate.

At Last, Automate the Sales Enablement Process

New technology enables personalized email messages to be delivered to individual leads, all while automating the distribution of those emails.

The technology you need to create more touch points with your contacts is at your fingertips. And the best part is, all this activity can happen in the background, warming up and nurturing warm and cool leads while your salespeople spend their time pursuing hot ones.

Feature 6: Lead Nurturing

“In most cases, only a relatively small percentage of your inbound leads will be ready to make an immediate purchase, leaving upwards of 90% of your inbound leads on the table,” says HubSpot.

That that’s where a lead nurturing strategy comes in. Lead nurturing is the purposeful process of engaging a defined target group by providing relevant information at each stage of the buyer’s journey.

During your lead nurturing process, you will provide value to your warm and cool contacts who have moved off your sales team’s short-term radar. This strategy will continue to build trust bit by bit, and keep your business top of mind – so these contacts think of you first when the time finally comes to make a major buying decision.

Lead nurturing is worthwhile. Research shows that companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more seals at a 33% lower cost. And yet, despite these numbers, only 36% of marketers actively nurture their sales leads.

The execution of a Lead Nurturing email strategy can come in many forms:

Targeted Content

Targeted content is valuable material delivered to specific buyer personas at the right time. Leads nurtured with targeted content produce an increase in sales opportunities of more than 20%.

Multiple Touches

Keep circling back with your leads. Prospects receive an average of 10 touches from the time they enter the top of the funnel until they’re a closed-won customer.

Monthly Newsletters

Monthly newsletters are an opportunity to create consistent touch points with your contacts, and provide a channel for exposing them to new educational content.

Blog Subscriptions

Blog subscriptions providing value, establish your industry authority, and let your most engaged contacts receive new content as it’s published.

Personalized Emails

Automated email drip campaigns are a convenient way to nurture leads at every point in their journey. These campaigns trigger sequences based on actions taken as leads come and go from your website.

Lead Scoring

68% of successful marketers cite lead scoring based on content and engagement as the most effective tactic for improving revenue contribution from lead nurturing. This method ranks prospects against a scale that represents the perceived value each lead represents.

By implementing and leveraging strategies for providing value, nurturing leads, and keeping your business top-of-mind, you’ll find you’re the first company leads reach out to when they’re ready to make a buying decision.

Feature 7: ROI Reporting

In its simplest form, a manufacturer’s marketing team exists to generate qualified sales opportunities and its sales team exists to close those opportunities.

Together, the joint goal of these two teams is to drive sustainable business growth for the company.

But, how do we track that success? How can we understand and quantify the end result for all these initiatives into which your company has poured energy, time, and money?

How can you tell what works and what doesn’t work?

Today, it’s easy to get data on the performance of all your marketing and sales efforts. Now, what you need are these three things:

Sufficient Analytics Tools

Analytics tools help you can accurately track performance across every level of your business.

Start by installing Google Analytics for measuring your web traffic, use inbound marketing software to gather intelligence on specific leads, and find a CRM platform to track the status of leads in the pipeline.

Today, there is such a wealth of tools readily available, that industrial B2B companies would be missing a major opportunity not to take advantage of them.

Written Process for Sharing Data Between Marketing and Sales

According to CSO Insights, 89% of the companies that aligned sales and marketing lead generation efforts reported measurable increases in the number of leads that turned into opportunities.

When sales and marketing work hand-in-hand, measurable results can be seen, and this is true – not just in lead nurturing – but all across the marketing and sales life cycle.

So, just what does “working together” mean? It means having a documented process for sharing information. This way, all operations are transparent and team members have easy access to important numbers and data.

Recurring Marketing – Sales Team Meeting

Create a safe space where open dialogue can occur, and team members can share concerns, questions, and triumphs.

Four times a year, sales and marketing teams must meet to review data collected through your analytics, inbound marketing, and CRM software; gaining an understanding of what works and what doesn’t, and taking the time to close any gaps.

It is essential that these meetings happen regularly, as all seven of the above features are only effective when working together, and the only way that can happen is when all of your team members are on the same page.

Tying it All Together

Now that you have all this valuable information at your fingertips, it’s finally time to get started. Just how do we do this?

Begin with an audit of your company’s current state across these seven core elements of the industrial marketing and sales strategy. Next, start working towards implementing the above techniques – step by step.

Need a hand maximizing and optimizing your sales and marketing strategies? Media Works is here to help. Our friendly team has decades of experience in the B2B industrial marketing sector, and nothing makes us happier than seeing your businesses succeed.

So, how do you generate leads from these website visitors who are sales qualified, but not necessarily sales ready?

Generating Leads – Throughout Every Stage of the Buying Cycle

To do this, your business needs a Lead Generation Strategy that appeals to your buyers all throughout that long buying process – with a particular focus on those who are still researching, learning, comparing, and evaluating their buying options.

Those who are researching are still in the process of gathering information. Those comparing and evaluating competitors want proof that you can solve their problems.

So, what can you do to meet them where they are?

Provide problem-solving content like white papers, eBooks, and other tools for which these buyers will trade names and email addresses. Give them case studies, buyer’s guides, and ROI calculators in exchange for contact information.

By providing value-driven content, your company will already be top-of-mind when these buyers are ready to make a buying decision, and they’ll have developed a sense of trust with you that doesn’t exist with your competitors.

2018-11-03T18:48:23+00:00