Whether you started your company a few months ago, or decades ago, growing your manufacturing business is one of your top priorities. You have worked hard to get where you are today, and your company is now in the perfect position to grow. All the time you spent providing quality products and good service to your customers is paying off. You now have a solid base of customers you work with and things seem to be going well.
Now is not the time to sit back and rest. In today’s ever-changing world, fast-paced economy, and super competitive marketplace, everyone is looking for the next customer or more business.
How does your company approach sales? You might have your sales force using company vehicles and driving to see potential customers. That process is long and tedious. Your sales people spend hours or days driving and little time actually talking to potential customers. Have you ever analyzed your ROI on your sales trips? How much money do you spend, and how much profitable business do you attract? Most customers don’t have or want to spend time away from the shop floor to listen to yet another sales pitch. Today, sales visits are more about customer service. The traditional sales job has almost completely gone by the way side.
Look at how you purchase things for your personal life as well as your business. You are most likely ordering materials and supplies online or picking up the phone and calling a distributor. If you are looking for something new, you likely use the Internet to do your research and then connect with one or two suppliers. Your current and potential customers shop and buy the same way.
E-commerce and online marketing has found its way into all areas of manufacturing sales. It doesn’t matter if you are making a finished product, actual goods, tooling, equipment, or only components. Customers use the Internet, so you need to ensure you have a web presence. Depending on your resources and skills, you can create your own website or contract a web design company.
Here are some things you might want to think about before going live:
What customers do you want to attract?
What image do you want to present?
How will you maintain the site?
Do you have internal skills?
Will you contract this?
Do you have a product catalog you want to link to your website?
Do you want customers to purchase directly from your site?
Provide a brief history of your company and what makes you unique.
List a sales contact on your website.
Make your site easy to navigate.
Post press releases and other company news, such as new product offerings or new capabilities.
Offer promotional sales.
Post customer testimonials.
If your product is suitable to sell directly to end customers, you may want to consider setting up sales channels on:
Join appropriate online communities, and provide tips and blogs on hot topics. Create a company profile and be active with news blurbs and tips.
In addition to the online world, don’t forget some of the more traditional marketing and sales opportunities like:
Representation in industry organizations
Participation in special events like Manufacturing Day, which can bring potential employees and customers to your business
While focusing on growth, don't forget to take care of the customers you currently have. If you give them the product and services they expect and pay for, they will give you repeat business and might provide your business name to others. And there's nothing better than customers recommending your business to their friends and family!