Manufacturing sales reps can compare the sales of the manufacturing sales process to a retail experience. From fast food to retail clothing, the phrase “How may I help you” is uttered repeatedly, almost unconsciously by armies of clerks, waiters and yes, sales representatives. In retail, the assumption is you are searching for something, otherwise, why would you be in the store, a brick and mortar store no less (read on).
In manufacturing sales, especially with high-ticket equipment, the sales cycle might be 12 or even 18 months. A consultative approach almost always requires in-depth questioning, audits, assessments and maybe even sample projects. Are you there to help? Of course you are. If your prospect feels more like you are selling then consulting, a natural distrust creeps into your relationship. No one wants to, let alone admit to, being sold.
In our eBook, The Industrial Manufacturer’s Guide to Inbound Marketing we explain how building trust, converting visitors to leads and retaining customers is all about your prospect’s self-discovery of just how you can help. And, here lies the success for manufacturing sales companies, focus on how and IF you can help. We find prospects more willing to discuss goals, challenges, and plans if they understand that your questions are just trying to determine if you and your company can help. How you can help, why, with what tools and tactics are best received if the prospect discovers this fact for themselves. See the inbound sales funnel here.
There is plenty of time, later in the process, to show your fancy presentation. I often repeat the phrase:
‘I am just trying to determine if I can help.’ Your questioning, unlike an inquisition, should be bolstered with tips and tactics that not only provide value to your prospect but position you as a caring expert in your field.
Can you help? Perhaps. You still need to gather information from your prospect to not only move them through the buying cycle but to discover for yourself if your services are a match. Also, do you like this prospect and can you do something spectacular together? This part of the process is most similar to dating. You’re not proposing marriage, talking about future kids and picking out china patterns on the first date. Dating is questioning. Keep asking and keep stating, you’re just trying to see if you can help. And, through mutual self-discovery you and the prospect both determine there is a way you can help, now your sale is closed.