B-to-B Marketers: Why it takes more than three calls to make a sale

August 25, 2015

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter

We’re all focused on generating more leads these days, but I find it ironic that most companies don’t do much with them once they get them. Simply fulfilling a request is not the answer, but yet many companies do just that. According to a survey of people who have requested info suggests that 80% of all sales are made on or after the third contact. The survey polled over 700 respondents with only 8% buying after the first call.

David Frey, the senior content editor and author of several marketing books advises, “An educated prospect is your best prospect, and if they haven’t become a customer, it’s because you haven’t fully educated them on the value of your product and developed a relationship of trust.” Why do many businesses have a problem following up with their prospective customers? Mr. Frey explained, “The problem is not that small businesses don’t have the capacity to follow-up with prospects, it’s that they don’t have the systems in place to do it well.”

In his recent newsletter, “Follow-Up Marketing: How To Win More Sales With Less Effort,” Mr. Frey advised, “A good follow-up marketing system should have three attributes:

  1. It should be systematic.
  2. It should generate consistent, predictable results.
  3. It should require minimal physical interaction to make it run.

This leads to a more pressing issue and that is, what is the difference between sales lead management and a CRM tool? According to Russ Hill, President of Ultimate Lead Systems: Sales lead management is a sub-function within an overall CRM strategy. Traditional CRM programs like Salesforce.com, SalesLogix, ACT, Goldmine, Maximizer and others focus on the sales person entering and managing his own data and pushing it “up” to management.

Sales lead management starts with management generating and capturing leads from all sources, fulfilling information requests and delivering them to the sales channel and tracking follow-up and sales results to measure marketing return-on-investment.

Here are some other interesting facts:

INQUIRIES MEAN NEW BUSINESS!

  • 67% of all inquiries are from legitimate prospects with real needs.
  • 34% have current needs that must be satisfied within 6 months!
  • 70% did not know the company made the product before seeing their ad … making them NEW PROSPECTS!

A six-year study* of nearly 60,000 inquiries conducted by Penton Media Company also found that:

  • 43% of inquirers receive literature and information too late to be of use.
  • 72% of inquirers are NEVER CONTACTED by a salesman.
  • 25% of sales contacts are made at the inquirer’s request.
  • 40% of inquirers purchase the advertised product, a competitive product or change their suppliers.
    * NED Reader Action Reports

The key is to get a lead management system in place that can help your CRM convert those leads into sales.


5 Ways Construction Design Will Change Within the Next 50 Years

August 12, 2015

Today, we have a guest blog from Jessica Kane of Federal Steel Supply, Inc., discussing some of the new innovations expected to shape the future of the construction industry.

New angles are being used for the advancement of construction design that will most likely be widespread within the next 50 years. Designers and architects are implementing new trends that could very well be profitable in building spaces for new offices and living establishments. Here are just a few:

One Stop Design

One trend that is already in play is the single design model. A common practice in planning is having an architect create construction documents. They are then handed over to the contractors to be edited and executed. This entire process is now shifting to be done all in one place to save time and money. So, all the outlining, engineering and construction plans are set and submitted to be built directly afterward.

Sustainable and Efficient Solutions

Being energy efficient is a constant concern in construction. So when new buildings are going up, construction around the world has established new ideas on how to conserve. New facades have been used to produce energy through a solar collection and to provide a natural cooling system. For instance, a designer in Melbourne, Australia, has developed a system which includes an outer layer of a side of a building that contains solar panels that shift to collect energy from the sun and provides optimal shading. Another useful technique that has become a sustainable solution in providing energy is the innovation of utilizing the shade of building faces,  as seen in Hamburg, Germany. A residential establishment has microalgae installed within glass panels that collects solar energy and creates heat through the process of photosynthesis. The panels can also be shifted in order to provide natural cooling to the building.

Large 3D Printed Structures

3d printerConstructing large structures using a 3D printer has been on the minds of the industry since its initial success in quickly building smaller housing units. Large structures are being composed by 3D printers, but only in part. The MIT Media Lab is finding that results from printing a large building are often rugged and contorted. The product is sanded down and filled with concrete to stabilize the structure. Through these new and innovative projects, engineers are adapting to new technologies for quick and economical production.

Drone Assistance

droneBuilding firms are using drones more frequently to help with inspections and material delivery. Drones can provide high accuracy inspections in hard-to-reach areas that can prove dangerous and costly if performed by a human. Drones help in collecting data, executing sophisticated design strategies and accurate data transmission needed by engineers. The construction of complex drones would become crucial in downtime reduction, because it would cause fewer accidents and enhance workflow speed at construction sites.

Adding on with Permanent Modular Construction

Permanent modular construction is the process of constructing buildings offsite (60-90 percent of the building) in a factory-controlled environment which is then moved to its final building site. While this exists now, more of this type of construction will become prominent as it becomes more sustainable and leaves less material waste, less site disturbance and provides more flexibility and reuse of materials. In addition, modular construction has an accelerated construction process due to its ability to have site work conducted simultaneously. Because modular construction is built offsite and needs to be transported to its final location, the quality of the building is higher than that of an on-site building, because it has to withstand transportation and installation requirements. Modular construction allows for add-ons later in the process. For example, instead of constructing a 100,000-square-foot building, you can build a 25,000-square-foot building and later make additions to increase the size. It’s this flexibility that makes it prime for a bright future in the construction industry.


Manufacturers: Are you Keeping up with Your Customers’ Expectations?

July 21, 2015

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman at Sonnhalter

Are we living up to our customers expectations? As consumers, we know that through the improvements in technology that most of us want fast, cost-effective and personalized levels of experience. And most are getting it, but at what cost?

Is this any different for the manufacturing world and your customers? Have your distributors and contractors become more demanding? My guess is yes, because remember, they are consumers too and they expect the same from their business dealings.

I read an interesting article in eMarketer recently that companies in general are having trouble meeting customer expectations. 93% of business leaders worldwide said technology has changed the customer experience in the last 10 years.

Ways in Which Technological Innovations Affect Customer Expectations Today vs. in the Future* According to Business Leaders Worldwide, Jan 2015 (% of respondents)

How does that stack up with what you’re experiencing?

What are your biggest challenges? Are they in this chart?

What are you doing about it?

Customer service. We all say we have it, but what is it? Where does it start?

Unless you are offering something you can’t get anywhere else, then you’re going to have competition from someone. So what makes your customers or potentials want to do business with you instead of them?

Assuming you have a good product, then I’d say the customer experience would be the major deal sealer or breaker. Customer service starts the moment someone from your company answers the phone, through the sales process and follow-up with your customer service department if a question or problem arises.

I guess what I’m trying to say is your company’s customer service should start with every employee. Those that are on the front line (be it a CS or delivery man), they have the one-on-one contact with the customer and can sway future purchases by their actions or inactions. We all build our business around repeat sales so everyone in the company needs to be goodwill ambassadors. The challenge for all of us is to find the friction in our process and smooth it out.

Do you know what a customer is worth to you? Think beyond this quarter or even this year. Think about the last 5 years. How much stuff have you sold them? More importantly, if you come out with something new, where are your best chances of selling it? To someone new, or to someone who knows, likes and trusts you?

Here are some insights on how we can make the customer experience better, resulting in better loyalty and ultimately more sales:

  • Deliver outstanding quality – from a great quality product to courteous customer service and user-friendly literature.
  • Understand what your customers want – don’t assume to know what they want – ask them.
  • Connect with them – direct relationships are the most important and the most challenging. Always think WIIFT (What’s In It For Them). Be sincere and upfront with them. When communicating with them, don’t always be selling. Try to help solve a problem even though it might not, in the short-term, result in a sale to you.
  • Under promise and over deliver – exceed your customers’ expectations, then do it again!
  • Don’t sit on your laurels – yes, you have some neat products, but instead of sitting there and just doing the same old same o, innovate. If you don’t, someone else will.

Now these points probably aren’t a revelation to you, but when was the last time you focused on your customers and said THANK YOU!


Is Trust Part of Your Long-Term Marketing Strategy?

July 7, 2015

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman at Sonnhalter

trustIn today’s world, trust is a more important marketing asset than the product or service you’re trying to sell. Think about that for a minute. Would you buy something off of someone you don’t trust? Chances are, the answer is no.

Trust is something that’s earned and it’s always been important. But in today’s world, you can’t BS your way through it. People want to see proof. With the internet and social media, the potential customer has several options to gain access to you and how you’re actually performing in the market.

That’s why building trust should be a long-term goal.

I recently read an article by John Jantsch from Duck Tape Marketing, 5 Ways to Make Trust Your Most Important Marketing Asset, that brings home this point. Here are some highlights:

  • What do others say about you – These third-party comments say a lot about how you really do business. Customer reviews impact SEO.
  • Who are you connected with – Who do you hang out with, how do you add value, who do you collaborate with? All help shed a light on who you really are.
  • How do you react – How do you react to questions or negative comments? People are watching.
  • Are you easy to do business with – Convenience has become a value proposition. Actually go through your own process to see how easy it is to really do business with you.

The Challenges of Being Seen, Heard and Read

May 20, 2015

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman at Sonnhalter

Everyone is getting better at resisting all the interruption-driven ads and promotions. Your customers are taking control of what they want to read or look at.

So what’s the answer? Quit selling and start giving them what they want (helpful content), where they want it and when they want it.

I recently read a post by George Stenitzer on Content Marketing Institute that talked about when more people are saying no to ads, what options do we have to get your message in front of them?

He cites some amazing stats:

  • Mobile has taken over as the first screen to view content
  • Over 50% of Americans record TV shows and don’t watch commercials
  • 91% of consumers unsubscribe or unlike brands for which they once opted in for

George gives us some helpful ways to make sure your content is seen and read.

  1. Permission is golden – If someone allows us to share info with them, make sure you give them good relevant content (it’s not about you).
  2. Give them what they want – A small percentage of your content will outperform the rest. Use your analytics to give them more of the same.
  3. Earn their attention in 7 seconds (23 words) – In the battle for attention, you need to answer the question quickly of what’s in it for them. Use images where possible.
  4. Keep customer info up to date – If you’re trying to be more personal and have the wrong info, you’ve lost the battle before it started.

These tips are not earth shattering, but a good reminder of what sets good content apart from the other self promotions.


Are Your Employees Brand Ambassadors? Why Not?

April 22, 2015

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent at Sonnhalter

Osborn

Photo Courtesy of Osborn

Do your employees know where your products are used? Do they know the applications the parts they make make possible? Are they aware of the history and critical nature of your company? There are many simple, cost-effective ways to increase productivity and morale by implementing a program that lets them know.

To land new business, you’re always told to “Tell Your Story” well. It’s just as important to tell it internally. Why?

It makes employees feel like part of the plan – Let them see the big picture and where you as a company fit into it

It helps them see the long view, not just their day-to-day part in it – There’s a plan, not just a daily task

It builds internal networks – If Engineering tells their story to Customer Service, everyone sees people and faces, not silos

It allows them to be brand ambassadors – If they know the story you want told, then that’s the story that gets re-told

So how do you reach them? That’s the easiest part—the same way you reach new customers:

Host an Employee Open House – Let them show off to their kids, and see what goes on in other departments

Giving a tour of your facility? Engage employees – Don’t treat them like an extension of the machine they’re working, but have them describe what they do, and the cost savings, quality assurance or other aspect of their work

Start an internal newsletter – It’s a great place to either post external press releases, or develop case studies for outside use

Cover the Walls – Advertising blown up as posters reinforce your brand internally and when guests tour your facility

Let them hear & be heard – Have a quarterly or monthly meeting of non-managerial representatives from every department, and allow for an open exchange or ideas, complaints and stories

Highlight your company’s history whenever possible – Old ads, press clippings or photos give a sense of pride and place

Have a mission statement – And stress it internally. Print it on business cards, coffee cups in the vending machines; anywhere it will be seen regularly

You don’t need to be told that Manufacturing has gotten a bad rap. For years it’s been the butt of jokes, seen as a “dead end” and been declared all but extinct in this country by countless talking heads.

Well those people are wrong. And the house they left to get into the car they drove to the studio where they made their comments is testament to it. And it’s time your employees knew that too.

I once heard a really cool story about the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. It has a unique elevator that kind of side-steps its way up to the top of the arch. Well if you look into the arch, instead of out at the view, along the way you’ll see large welder-generators. They’ve been there since the Arch was built in the mid 60’s. Because of the way the arch was made, it was impossible to move them, so they just left them, placed another (which also got left behind) and kept building.

As a former employee of that welding manufacturer, I think that’s fascinating, and if I could ever get over my nagging fear of heights, it would be the best part of the trip up. To know that something that was made in the same building I worked in was instrumental in a project like that, it just boggles the mind. All the “ordinary” people, doing their “ordinary” job at factories all across the country added up to a modern marvel like that. Inspire that sense of awe in your employees, and they’ll help do the heavy lifting of establishing a brand.


Automate and ProMat: One Badge, Two Shows

April 1, 2015

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect, Sonnhalter

I had the opportunity to attend Automate and ProMat in Chicago on behalf of two Sonnhalter clients (one at each show). A single badge got attendees and exhibitors into both shows, and the combined efforts of the automation and materials handling groups provided for a great event that included keynote presentations from Renee Niemi (director of Android and Chrome Global Business, Google for Work), John Mackey (co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods) and Steve Wozniak (co-founder of Apple, founder, chairman and CEO of Wheels of Zeus).

Automate

Automate is North America’s broadest automation event. Put on by the Association for Advancing Automation and its trade associations (the Robotic Industries Association and the Motion Control Association), Automate showcased the full spectrum of automation technologies and solutions, ranging from traditional industrial applications to cutting-edge new technology.

Via @NookInd

Via @NookInd

My travel to the show was delayed by a Chicago snow storm, but the snow didn’t keep anyone away. The media at Automate were busy seeing what’s new in the industry. Our client, Nook Industries, exhibited linear motion solutions including mechanical solutions that can replace hydraulic options, as well as integrated automation systems.

Timed well with March Madness, at several booths, attendees could play basketball against robotic arms. The precision and technology in this part of automation definitely fascinates me … and not just because a robot made me a chocolate chip cookie!

Via robostox.com

DSC_0891

Automate takes place every two years and dates back to 1977. End users, OEMs, machine builders, distributors, buyers, researchers and students attended the show coming from more than 30 countries.

Right across the hall at McCormick Place, was ProMat.

ProMat

ProMat is the largest expo for manufacturing and supply chain professionals in North America, showcasing the latest material handling and logistics equipment and technologies. More than 800 exhibitors displayed material handling equipment and systems, packaging and shipping equipment, inventory management and controlling technologies, dock/warehouse equipment and supplies, and many more supply chain management solutions.

The ProMat hall was bustling every time I entered. Product demonstrations reached to great heights and lengths, and the show itself offered education and networking opportunities on top of nearly every supply chain and logistics solution in one place.

Our client, UniCarriers Americas, exhibited its reliable brands of forklifts which provide for more uptime, great value of ownership and are backed by a best-in-class warranty.

Via UniCarriers Americas on Facebook

Via UniCarriers Americas on Facebook

ProMat also takes place every two years and is powered by the Material Handling Institute.


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