The best manufacturing business leaders believe in continuous improvement involving process automation and deployment of more effective technology. In 2021, its time to apply operational excellence thinking and best practices to adopt a more reliable, innovative, and effective approach to building your sales pipeline and refining your go-to-market program.
There’s a way to apply operational excellence to the go-to-market side of your business. This approach is called the “Intelligent Sales PipelineTM”—a new approach for proactively managing lead generation and lead qualification using prospective customer data intelligence, engagement, and metrics.
A Quick Review of Manufacturing Needs
There is never a bad time to invest in your go-to-market programs, but in 2021, it’s not an option. The pandemic has impacted manufacturers in many ways: revenues down as much as 60%, market segments impacted differently, challenges engaging both new customers as well as developing and retaining current ones. 2021 requires a review of your target markets and target buyers, and much more effective and efficient go-to-market processes. How would reduced sales cycles, better qualified sales leads, and higher dollars per order impact your business?
Introducing the Intelligent Sales PipelineTM
One 2021 innovation for you to consider is adoption of an Intelligent Sales PipelineTM
which operates very differently than the traditional sales funnel model. Selling today is much more of a conversion process, built on a level of intelligence-gathering and engagement. The “Intelligent” part of the new model comes from a proactive process of identifying and engaging prospects in a more effective process and uses customer-relationship management (CRM) and marketing automation technology.
The switch from a task-focused way of processing leads to a prospect-centered, smart way using criteria that are important to both you and the prospect.
Building rapport and a deeper understanding of pain points, needs, challenges, and goals through deeper interaction with a smaller number of prospects.
Starting with higher quality, better-fit prospects at the beginning of your interaction and placing more emphasis on quality versus quantity metrics.
The following are the key components of the new, intelligent sales pipeline model:
Ideal Customer Profiles
often include factors such as Demographic Factors (size, growth, location, business cope), Strategic Fit Factors (fit with your value proposition and capabilities, long-term potential, ability to serve them profitably), and finally, Buying Factors (openness to discuss projects or needs, the buying and decision process itself), and finally the Buying Process (can you present yourself uniquely?)
Focused Lead Generation Programs
start with finding appropriate contacts and companies by pre-qualifying them and starting the conversation. One of the best ways is to implement an account-based marketing program (ABM). Account-based marketing programs start with your ideal customer and ideal buyer profiles and use a third party to contact and qualify leads. You can read more about account-based marketing programs here: https://www.chiefoutsiders.com/blog/account-based-marketing-for-smb
Intelligent Lead Qualification, Closing and Forecasting Processes
In the Intelligent Sales Pipeline model, we qualify and score prospects based on their answers to the factors we map out in the ideal customer profile, not against activities.
With improved qualification your sales organization will be able to have deeper, more valuable interactions with your best prospects.
Does the Intelligent Sales PipelineTM Approach Really Work?
Here’s a BEFORE and AFTER example from Dalsin Industries, FMA’s 2020 Manufacturer of the Year. Over the past couple of years, as a part-time Chief Marketing Officer, I helped Dalsin implement this approach:
These types of results are there for you, too, if you are willing to innovate by bringing operational excellence to your go-to-market programs. Here’s a free eBook to learn more: https://contact.chiefoutsiders.com/improving-lead-gen-ebook
Mark Coronna, Area Managing Partner & CMO, Chief Outsiders