Not all sales are created equal. Whether it’s business to business or business to consumer, each sales scenario requires different approaches and different tactics. When it comes to the manufacturer to retailer sector of B2B sales, there are crucial steps that need to be taken with a clear beginning, middle and end that goes way beyond the initial pitch call.
Having worked in sales for over 20 years, I have seen what works and what doesn’t, based on industry. Manufacturing is unlike any other because there is a clear story involved. Working near, or in, the manufacturing plant offers the opportunity to see the product you’re selling created from the earliest stages. To carry the process of the product all the way from raw material through delivery gives you an angle many sales representatives in other industries do not have. Using this knowledge as a home base, these four tips will help you not only close more sales, but develop stronger relationships with your clients.
Know Your Product Inside and Out
Your product goes beyond the physical item going on the shelves. You are also selling yourself as a representative of the company. You should go into any call or meeting knowing the highlights and selling points of both the product and the business.
Is your company woman-owned? Tell them. Are your products made in the USA? Say that. Have you been working there for years? People love to hear about your tenure, as it illustrates the quality of the company. Are products made from recycled materials? Let them know. Can the product do this and that? You bet it can and here’s what else it can do.
As the sales team, we have the advantage of seeing the product in its rawest form. Use that knowledge as a story to inform your buyer. You are the buyer’s resource, so know everything there is to know about what you’re selling and your company’s identity.
Know Your Client Business Inside and Out
It’s Sales Training 101 to do your research on a client before pitching. What will set you apart is going beyond what the business sells and what it does to figure out the “why.” Why do they sell this product? What led the company in this direction? Then you let them know how your product fits into that mindset.
Why is the consumer going to go into a store buying that product? What are their goals? What are they pitching to their customers? Watch their commercials, check their website and social media channels to see if they have any promotions coming up. Are they doing a home products push? Let them know you see that upcoming push and how your product fits into that. It’s all about how you can fit into their story.
Follow the Sale All the Way Through Manufacturing
Double-check the order to make sure your manufacturing team is making the product to the customer’s exact specifications. Before the product ships, make sure it will be in the easiest form of delivery and packaging for the customer. Ask the client if they need the product to hang on hooks, sit on shelves or be part of a display.
Do they need everything shipped in one large box or several smaller ones? Should the products be bundled or bagged? Never assume, as every customer is different.
Asking these questions, as well as making sure there is purposeful follow-through, shows your buyers how much you care and are willing to make things as easy for them as possible.
Follow Up with Your Customer
So you’ve seen and followed every step of the process before the shipment went out the doors. Now what? Follow up with the customer. Ask them how delivery went. Did everything show up on time? Was it easy to unload and unpackage? Did that box size work for them? How are their customers responding?
Not only will this ensure the likelihood of them ordering again, but it will create fewer problems down the road when continuing future purchases. By developing a strong relationship with that buyer you are likely to become a “go-to” when it comes to purchasing. The follow up successfully completes the manufacturing sales story.
These tactics will help in creating new sales and encouraging recurring buying. Use your manufacturing environment advantage to sell a story and work with your client from beginning to end. Using these tactics will set you apart from competitors.
Jordan Sammons is a sales representative with Alliance Rubber Company.