Sales and marketing aren’t the same thing. Engineering and manufacturing businesses need both.
There’s an attitude we often encounter when working with B2B businesses the operate in a more technical field, such as manufacturing or engineering. The mindset can be summed up as: marketing is a waste of time; we want to cut to the chase and get straight to sales.
The factors behind this mindset are twofold, and the first comes from experience. Engineering and manufacturing businesses often have highly technical sales propositions. Making the case for their product or service can be complicated, and they have traditionally found the most success through networking and relationship-building. They see that, if they do good work, their businesses will grow through word of mouth. The people who contact them in this way often are closer to the “sales” stage of the process, and because these leads have a high close rate, they’re the ones technical B2B businesses want to focus their energy on.
The second factor is a mindset about what marketing is. These businesses sometimes view marketing as a way to put a disingenuous “spin” on a product which tricks and misleads impressionable consumers into purchasing goods and services they don’t actually need. In their minds, marketing is one big bait and switch. Rather than spend time trying to convince someone of their services, they want to talk to people whose mind are already made up.
It’s true that bad marketing and false advertising do exist, and unfortunate that these practices undermine the good work of the rest of their field. But it would be a mistake for businesses to discount the entire profession based on this misconception.
As for business owners who want to cut straight to sales, here are our top reasons why you may be undervaluing the services of a good website and marketing team.
1. Marketing and sales are on the same continuum.
Marketing and sales are often separate departments, but they really exist on a continuum. The role of marketing is to shape the brand, raise awareness, and draw in potential leads. As those leads return and begin interacting with the website, they become more qualified. Once they’ve reached a certain threshold of engagement, they transfer to sales, at which they enter a whole new workflow.
While engineering businesses may mostly focus on the late-stage sales prospects, the most reliable way to grow those prospects is through a broader marketing campaign. In the end, it’s a numbers game: if you need to close five leads a month, and you know that ten percent of the leads who fill out your email form will close, then you need fifty people to fill out your email form. Marketing can help bring in more of those leads, meaning you close more sales.
2. Your marketing website is your best sales tool.
When it comes to lead generation, your website is one of the best under-used tools on the market. Too many businesses only think of their website as a static information center, something they build once, just to put it on their business cards.
But when you put your website to work, it not only actively attracts visitors, it turns those visitors into customers. Websites attract visitors through regular content publishing and digital ad campaigns. And then they convert those visitors to leads by offering high-value content in exchange for contact information. With an email address associated with a specific piece of content, you can turn that lead over to your sales team for further nurturing and development.
3. Marketing is another form of networking and relationship-building.
For businesses that understand the power of networking, marketing should be familiar ground. That’s because marketing is exactly that: growing networks and building a reputation. Only for online marketing, those relationships often happen semi-invisibly.
You may not shake hands with the person on the other end of an IP address who’s just downloaded your buyer’s guide, but that person is still reading about you and learning more about your company.
So, what if you designed your website to deliver the sales pitch you would otherwise have made in person? What if your design responded the questions you’re often asked at events? What if visitors could easily and identify the products and services most relevant to their needs, and what if you could then market to them based on that behavior, rather than your best guess?
That would be a compelling website, yes? Yes. That’s what your website is for. Does it do that?
4. Your website is a platform for you to establish your credentials.
Finally, your website can do far more than advertise your value proposition. As an accessible repository of your best industry knowledge and advice, it can actually establish your business as a trustworthy resource. The more visitors come to you for information, the more your brand reputation grows. And after reading your content, they’ll be more interested in working with your business—or passing word about you on to their network.
What’s more, since so many manufacturing and engineering businesses leave this resource untapped, your strongest arguments will go unanswered. You won’t just be an authority, you’ll be an authority by default. Your competition will find their sales teams facing questions from their prospects that are based on articles you wrote, and they’ll have to hope and pray they can come up with adequate answers on the spot. And even if they do, those prospects will have your answers in hand.
Maybe your competitor delivers a more convincing answer. But if they give the same answer you did, it only validates your authority. And if their answer is less convincing, it’s a point in you favor.
Good marketing is about helping the right people connect.
We’ve spent a lot of time talking about the importance of defining your audience and developing personas. The reason we do this isn’t just to identify the people who have a budget and might be interested in your services. It’s also to make sure we’re not wasting the customer’s time as much as your own. You don’t want to pitch to people who aren’t interested, and people don’t want to hear from businesses that don’t interest them.
But on the other hand, when someone is looking for a business that meets their needs and matches their business ethos, marketing is what helps bring the two together. It means that visitors who land on your website have plenty of content to read that will pre-qualify them for your sales process. They have a chance to learn about you, and you have the opportunity to present yourself in a way that will attract the clients you want to land.
False representations help no one. But marketing that focuses on transparency and authenticity will resonate with the customers who need what you have to offer.