Don’t Underestimate Industrial Marketing’s Contribution to Sales

The more I talk to manufacturers and industrial companies, the more I’m convinced that RFQs and sales conversations are all that matter to them. I get it that industrial marketing must be held accountable and I firmly believe that it should make a direct contribution to growing sales and revenues. However, ignoring industrial marketing’s role in creating sales opportunities is a fallacy in my opinion. (See Manufacturers Need Lead Management to Close the RFQ Gap)

Industrial companies are having a difficult time adjusting their mindset to the new realities of buyer behavior. I have had many conversations where I have heard the other person tell me that they’ve never had to actively market their products and services before. They are accustomed to customers calling them for RFQs/RFPs. They’ve always depended on a constant flow of referrals and repeat business. Obviously, those channels have dried up, otherwise we wouldn’t be having a conversation about needing my industrial marketing consultation in the first place.

Michael Clark, Vice President, Marketing and Public Relations at American Arbitration Association said that the best marketing advice he ever received was “Sales keep you in business. Marketing keeps you in sales.” (From BtoB LinkedIn group). He summed it up brilliantly.

I understand that it is not always easy to recognize exactly which marketing strategy generated an actual sales lead, especially in a long sales cycle involving many decision makers as is typical in industrial sales. This problem results in not being able to truly recognize marketing’s contribution to every stage of the buy cycle. Some people refer to this as the “last ad” syndrome. Research studies have been done on this subject. (See “Measuring ROI Beyond the Last Ad,” John Chandler-Pepelnjak)

GlobalSpec explains it nicely in one their industrial marketing whitepapers by referring to it as the ‘Last Click’ Marketing Mistake. Here are two quotes from their report that describes the problem.

“Some marketers mistakenly think Google is all they need because a buyer might type their company name into the search box. But how a buyer got your name in the first place is through the work of earlier exposures to your online marketing presence.”

“The ‘last ad’ standard misses the all-important concept of the buying cycle and funnel, in which all stages contribute to the final purchase decision. It leads marketers to rely too heavily on a specific and limited set of tactics, and also to place too much emphasis on the click as measurement of successful online advertising.”

It should be apparent that industrial marketing plays a vital role in the buyer’s journey that ultimately leads to the coveted RFQ. It is very important to tie together marketing activities with a robust set of analytics to help you track every online interaction.

When and where necessary, plug back data from offline interactions for a complete view of marketing’s contributions to industrial sales. Measurement and tracking data by themselves mean very little if they don’t help you make proactive marketing decisions that will help you reach your business goals.

Based on my experience of working with industrial companies, I can guarantee you that none of this will work unless there is close cooperation between sales and marketing, and success requires complete buy in from the leadership of the company. And yes, it does require investing the time and the money to build a sustainable industrial marketing program.

How is industrial marketing helping you produce leads and sales opportunities? Please add your comments below.

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