How To Sell Industrial Products And Services To Your 4 Most Difficult Customers

Not all customers are created equally. Some will come to you fully informed and ready to buy. Others — likely the majority — require a great deal of time nurturing and educating. Oftentimes, many manufacturers spend a great deal of time and effort with a lead, only to reveal that they are not the right kind of customer for their business.

Thankfully, industrial businesses can leverage their website to help streamline and potentially expedite the sales process, while simultaneously weeding out unqualified buyers.

New Industrial Customers

What follows are four types of potential customers that typically require the greatest effort from sales personnel to convert into paying customers, and tips for how to use your website to save your sales team time and energy.

1. The "Just Browsing" Customer

This type of customer is in the early stages of the buying cycle. They are aware of an existing or eventual need, but are still conducting initial research. This customer will potentially have lots of questions, but may not be forthcoming about their own needs, requirements and even budget (they may not even know these details yet). Those who do have this information will likely hesitate to escalate sales conversations, either because approval for the project is still pending or simply because it is too early in the decision-making process.

It is helpful for sales to be involved with customers at this stage. However, industrial businesses can benefit significantly by having a robust and detailed website, complete with deep-level technical information and specifications to support the sales conversations. Offer a full product catalog or technical portfolio where applicable. Industrial businesses should aim to answer as many possible questions about their products/services as possible on their website. The more data and details available, the less time a salesperson will have to spend with this customer, educating them and getting them familiar with your company's offerings and capabilities. Then, when this customer is ready to buy, they will engage the sales team fully informed and ready to buy.

2. The Skeptical Customer

Another name for this type of customer is The Hesitator. This company may have heard everything you have to say and knows all about your product/service, yet is still holding out. They seem to be afraid to commit. The truth is, that's very likely the case. Perhaps they are wary of your product's ability to perform as indicated, or doubt the quality of your customer service.

The solution, in many cases, is to address and assuage these fears with valuable content. Hesitators want to know that you will deliver on your promises and see the results they expect.

There are a few ways to address their concerns. Frequently asked questions (FAQs) is an easy content marketing solution to address buyers' questions and fears. You can add the FAQs on your products or services pages and watch that boost your SEO! It's a win-win for your prospective buyers and your website ranking. Videos, including product demos, factory tours, troubleshooting tips, and similar material (like the example below), have been proven to help close sales.

 

Click here to learn how you can get a FREE VIDEO
created for you to engage with your audiences better.

Another way to feed more valuable content online is by showcasing testimonials from happy customers, customer lists, and case studies. Hesitators want to know who has worked with you in the past and how those companies fared as a result. Your case studies should always address the following:

  • The problems or pain points the customer was experiencing
  • How these problems impacted their business
  • The improvement they saw as a result of using your solution or product
  • How their business or work life changed after working with you 

Case studies work throughout the sales funnel because they build brand awareness, nurture prospects, and support your sales team. Check out our blog for more tips on how to create a customer case study that stands out from your competitors. 

3. The Unqualified Customer (a.k.a. the Non-Customer)

It's not really fair to even call this type of company a "customer," as it is likely they will never buy from you. Why? Because you don't offer the products/services they are looking for. Or perhaps your product cannot be made to their specifications. Regardless of why, sales personnel will often get stuck entertaining and informing these companies, only to find that the time was spent in vain.

Much like the "Just Browsing" customer, the answer here is to include as many details about your product/service offerings on your website as possible, including product catalogs, specialties and capabilities, and downloadable CAD drawings where applicable. The sooner an unqualified customer realizes you aren't the supplier they need, the less likely they will waste a sales person's time. This way, your sales team can focus on those customers who genuinely need what you offer.

CAD model submissions rate

Learn more about how CAD files and the Thomas Traceparts Network can generate high-quality leads or check out the related resources below:

4. The Other Company's Customer

In some ways, these customers are the hardest to win, as they are (or nearly are) your competitor's customers. Whether they are upfront about this or not, these customers are looking for comparative prices, capabilities and service add-ons. They may want this information to aid in negotiating better deals with an existing supplier or one that is trying to win their business. Alternatively, they may be eager to see if there are better suppliers out there.

Whatever the reason, all of the content and information mentioned above will come into play. The idea is to put more than your best foot forward — you want to be an open book. Why? For starters, your competitor has probably not been so forthcoming with these details.

Learn More: Expanding Your Manufacturing Business Into New Markets

Another leg up is getting listed for free on Thomasnet.com, where more than a million in-market buyers are. The more readily available you make information about your company and its offerings, the more comfortable this customer will feel with you. Your company will come across as more honest and thorough. That perception can then be leveraged by your sales personnel to try to win this business away from your competitor.

Thousands of North American manufacturers and industrial companies list their business on Thomasnet.com to connect with more buyers, engineers, MRO managers, and procurement professionals. USTEK Incorporated wanted to grow their business but had limited resources to put their plan in action because they were a small company. They turned to Thomas and the partnership yielded immediate results for USTEK. “The very week that we went live with Thomas we had three calls from potential customers,” Amy Holbrook, USTEK operations manager said.

USTEK Incorporated Company Profile To Get More Customers

“Over the past 18 months we’ve quoted 37 new RFQs, for brand new customers, which is fantastic,” she said. “Every single one of them came from Thomasnet. That was something that we would never have had the opportunity to do if it wasn’t for our program."

USTEK Inc. reached more targeted customers with a free Thomasnet.com company profile.

List Your Business Too 

Understanding Your Target Personas Helps Sell More Effectively

Many businesses say they target anyone interested in their products or services — but that can be a waste of time, resources, and marketing budget. Establishing well-thought-out buyer personas will allow you to more effectively reach your target audience with what they want and what they need, increasing your chances of turning leads into customers. 

Understanding your target personas will also tell you which content marketing tools you should be using more and how — like guides or videos — and ultimately help you fuel lead generation and close a sale. Take the time to truly understand your targets. The most basic information you should have about your targets should be their job objectives and challenges. Then create content that helps them achieve those objectives and solve their challenges to keep you top-of-mind — learn more about targeting the 3 buyer personas that influence the buying process here.

Interested in learning how content influences your customers through each stage of the buying journey? Download our eBook, "The Ultimate Guide To Marketing For Manufacturers." Or if you'd like to see how well your online assets are currently performing, request a free digital health check from our industrial marketing experts. We'll let you know exactly how you can improve to effectively sell to engineers, MRO managers, and procurement managers.

For additional resources on generating leads, visit the links below:

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