How to Incorporate Video into Your Manufacturing Sales Strategy

This week’s Tactics Thursday video is about how to incorporate video into your sales strategy! Developing impactful videos doesn’t take a hefty budget or fancy equipment! There are so many free or extremely affordable video platforms on the market that allow people to produce short, simple videos. We use a free video platform called Vidyard internally and for our manufacturing clients throughout the sales process. It allows you to take videos through your computer webcam or your phone on the Vidyard app. When using Vidyard on your computer, you have the option to record just yourself, yourself and your screen, or just your screen.

I use Vidyard to create the following:

  • LinkedIn Videos- Such as these Tactics Thursday videos, company announcements, or announcements for Women in Manufacturing Ohio, which I serve on the board as Communications Chair.
  • Client Tutorials- I often do tutorials when clients ask questions showcasing how to perform tasks in HubSpot or walking clients through email campaigns and workflows
  • Prospects Meeting Follow Up- If I have a strong meeting with a prospect, sometimes I will opt to do a video recap instead of a lengthy email follow up. This cuts through the clutter and adds a personal touch.

This video specifically highlights how to use Vidyard to develop LinkedIn videos. Video is an excellent way to promote yourself and highlight your company’s products and services. As long as you are providing value and keeping the videos short, sweet and to the point, you’re golden.

For more information on video strategy, check out my blog “Why Video Should Be Part of Your Sales Strategy

How to Get Stronger Manufacturing Referrals in 2020

Ever have a strong meeting with a manufacturing colleague that results in them promising to refer you to a few companies but then weeks go by and the referral never happens? Manufacturing referrals open doors to new business opportunities but getting your business colleagues to introduce you is easier said than done. While I’m sure most people have great intentions when agreeing to refer you to a contact in their network, oftentimes, they get bogged down with work and forget or keep putting it off. By using this method, you are taking the pressure off your colleague and making the referral process as easy as copying and pasting!

Deep Search Your Business Connection’s Network on LinkedIn

Have a good relationship with a business connection? Why not ask them for a referral. Instead of asking them blankly for a referral, it’s better to see who they are connected to and ask for specific referrals, by name. I always take a deep dive into who my colleague is connected to on LinkedIn, what professional organizations they are involved in, and what schools they have attended to identify any opportunities for referrals they may have. I try to come into our business lunch with 3-5 contacts I think could be a fit for my services.

At the Meeting and Follow-Up Post Meeting

At your business meeting, say the following:

“Hi [Business Contact], I see you are connected with [Name] on LinkedIn. After reviewing their website, I think they could use our products/services. Would you be willing to introduce us?”

If your contact agrees to refer you, send a follow-up email immediately after your meeting saying something along the lines of the following:

“Thank you very much. Below I’ve attached a draft email introduction which you can use or tweak as you see fit.”

Sending a draft intro is helpfulfor a few reasons:

  1. You are taking the pressure off your contact to draft an introduction.
  2. Your contact will be more likely to refer you in a timely manner since it’s as simple as a quick copy and paste
  3. You can control how you are introduced and ensure that the first introduction to you and your company is as strong as possible.

Drafting Your Referral Intro

Stumped on how to draft your intro, here are some tried and true tips and tricks I learned from Caleb Townsend, co-founder of Factur—Manufacturing Referrals Network.

  1. Keep it short and sweet 4-6 brief sentences. Nobody has time to read a novel so keep it straight and to the point.
  2. Make your name a link to your LinkedIn profile and your company name a link to your website.
  3. Don’t bury the lead- keep the ask at the beginning of the intro. People shouldn’t find out that your contact is looking to refer you to the last sentence.
  4. Put a sentence about your differentiating factors in the paragraph.
  5. Any notable awards or industry certifications? Include those in a sentence.
  6. Soft-close that puts the ball in their court and gives the person being asked the ability to say no.

 

The #1 Lead Qualifying Tip for Manufacturing Websites

In this week’s Tactics Thursday episode, I break down my #1 lead qualifying tip for manufacturing websites. While this tip is very simple, it makes a huge impact! I implore you all to take an inventory of all the forms on your website and asking yourself, “are our form doing a good job of qualifying leads on the website?” If not, ask yourself how can we ask more poignant questions that will help us determine if this is a good, qualified lead.

Below, is a list of some common questions the Felber PR & Marketing team has implemented on our clients’ websites that may be valuable for you to implement as well!

  • Drawing file upload
  • Do you require an NDA?- include a file upload with this question
  • Estimated annual usage?
  • Does your part require ‘difficult’ alloys such as aluminum or copper?
  • What is the end-use of your product?
  • How would you like to be contacted- drop-down question where someone can select email or phone

When we onboard new manufacturing clients, we always ask what are the top 5 questions you ask every prospect when you first engage them? These qualifying questions can easily be placed in a descriptive form that, when filled out by your prospect, provides your sales team with a more detailed image of the prospect’s potential to turn into a customer. Strengthening your forms is an easy tactic to refine your lead generation strategy. Enhanced forms have the ability to empower salespeople with knowledge of who this prospect is, what they require, and how your company can best serve their needs.

Related Articles

How to see who is on my manufacturing website if they haven’t filled out a form yet

A common question we hear at Felber PR & Marketing is, “how do I identify who has been on my website”? Unfortunately, without someone converting to a contact (meaning they filled out a form on your website), we really have no way to see who that person was, just that someone from that company visited the website anonymously. In this video, I delve deeply into LinkedIn prospecting when you can see what company has viewed your website through IP tracking on your inbound marketing platform, but you’re not exactly sure what person at that company is viewing your website. This approach takes some research on the company (combination of looking at their website and LinkedIn) to get a sense of which team/person might be the appropriate contact and then reaching out via email or LinkedIn. I walk you through a basic tutorial of how I do this in this quick video. Hope this helps!

 

How to Write Manufacturing Job Descriptions That Attract Superior Talent

With the new year around the corner, manufacturers are looking for ways to grow their talent pool and set up their plants for success. A major component of attracting the right talent is developing strong job descriptions. Today’s guest blog post is brought by recruiting expert Glenn Levar, President and CEO of  Shared Time Human Resource Management, Inc. Prior to starting Shared Time Human Resource Management, Inc., Glenn was employed by Fortune 50 and entrepreneurial companies as human resource manager. During his corporate career, Glenn was a key contributor in reaching corporate goals and objectives. He built trust and empowered employees and management to greater success.

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Guest author Glenn Levar

How Manufacturers Can Develop Job Descriptions to Attract Superior Candidates

In its purest form, a position description indicates the work to be performed by the candidates for employment. The objective of a well-written position description is to attract the highest number of talented candidates and, from that list, hire the best one. Listed below are approaches to writing a position description and the elements required to develop a better position description.  These include the position summary, the position’s essential functions and the competencies, skills, education and work experience required to be successful in the position.

Approaches to Writing a Position Description

As a supervisor or manager, you can take several approaches to write a position description. Remember, a position description’s purpose is to define the position’s critical responsibilities and accountabilities broadly. Depending on your management style, you may choose any of the following methods:

  • Talk with employees about their work and ask for their input.
  • Ask employees to develop their position descriptions.
  • Share the position description with other managers the employee will work with to determine if there will be interference or issues with another departments’ work.

The final position description should validate and explain the position’s relevance within the organization and it should inform applicants of the work they will perform once hired.

The Position’s Summary

The position’s summary should explain what the candidate needs to be successful. For example, a company’s Sales Representative’s purpose could be to increase revenue in the territory by 10% from new and existing accounts, make prospecting calls, follow up on leads, prepare quotes, and answer customer questions.

Essential Job Functions

Essential functions are the primary job duties that an employee must be able to perform, with or without reasonable accommodation. You should carefully examine each job to determine which functions or tasks are essential to the employee’s performance.

The issue of job descriptions has received significant attention since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It is true that job descriptions can be helpful in supporting an employer’s position as to which job functions are essential.

Competencies and Skills

Mainly, these are the characteristics the company believes a qualified candidate should have to be successful in the position. They can be measurable knowledge such as degrees or certifications, hands-on or technical proficiencies, abilities, or even personal attributes like outgoing or friendly. A position description’s list of competencies may include communications, leadership, teamwork, and problem-solving skills.

Skills include the specific knowledge and abilities required to succeed in a job. The skills needed for a particular position may consist of computer programming, operating machinery, carpentry, plumbing, web design, typing, accounting, writing, or mathematics.

Writing a position description with assorted or different skills can make the recruitment effort complicated and lengthy. Finding one person with all of them may prove difficult, or worse, may result in hiring someone who is not as qualified for the position. Should this situation arise, it is advisable to re-examine the position description and consider splitting it into two or more jobs.

Education and Work Experience

The education and work experience section accurately describes the formal education and training the candidate may need.

For example, a machinist may need a general education degree (GED) or a high school diploma with five to seven years of experience, but a machinist does not need a Ph.D. A mechanical engineer usually requires a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree with fifteen years of experience designing aviation landing gear and not a GED.

Position Descriptions Next Steps

Position descriptions are living documents that evolve with each hiring cycle, changes to the way the company does business, position duties, or new equipment purchases.

It is recommended that once a year, the manager and employee sit down and discuss the position description as part of an annual review. Together, they can determine which essential functions, competencies, and skills remain necessary and eliminate those attributes which are no longer applicable to the position.

When both parties agree with the revisions, the manager may make formal changes to the description and both parties sign and date the new document. A copy of the signed and revised position description should be kept by the manager, given to the employee and shared with the company’s human resources department.

In Review

Position descriptions are necessary to define an employer’s expectations for the job, outline the job’s essential functions, identify the competencies and skills required for the job, and minimize ADA violations. The goal of a well-written position description is to attract and hire the most qualified candidate available to fill your open position.

Shared Time Human Resources Management, Inc. (STHRM, Inc.) provides human resources consulting services that solve our clients’ complex human resources issues. Since 1993, we have helped our clients recruit employees, retain staff and reduce costs. We work with entrepreneurial start-ups and established Fortune 500 companies in Cleveland, Northeast Ohio, and across the country.

Put Shared Time Human Resources Management, Inc. to work for your company. Contact Glenn Levar at 440.979.1046 or by e-mail at grlevar@sthrm.com.

 

Diversify Your Manufacturing Business to Rock the Next Recession

We’re excited to have Jonathan Slain, author of  ‘Rock the Recession: How Successful Leaders Prepare for, Thrive During, and Create Wealth After Downturns’ as a featured guest blogger. The following article is adapted from his book.

Diversify Your Manufacturing Business to Rock the Next Recession

Every recession plays out differently, and you never know which industry or geography will be hit the hardest. By diversifying to spread your business between multiple industries and markets, you minimize the impact any single industry has on your bottom line.

 

If the next recession hits manufacturing especially hard again, for example, you won’t be completely sunk if your business spans multiple industries and markets. You can make up for losses in one area by shifting your focus to others until the recession ends.

 

Let’s take a deeper look at how you can diversify your business in three ways—your customers, your products and services, and your industry—to bolster it against the next downturn.

Diversifying Your Customers

Before you take the ambitious step of diversifying into different markets, take a close look at your current customer base. To minimize the damage losing your biggest client would cause, make sure that no single customer accounts for more than 10 to 20 percent of your revenue.

 

Run through your customer list to understand how your portfolio will fare in a recession, and then be proactive in diversifying. If you discover you have serious customer concentration in your business, start reaching out to new customers immediately. You need to spread the risk around so your business isn’t at the mercy of another’s success.

Diversifying Your Products and Services

It’s not enough to diversify geographically and simply pick up new customers; you must diversify your products and services, too.

 

Work with your leadership team to figure out what you can add to your portfolio. How can you pivot to a product or service that has more demand during a recession? How can you provide more robust solutions to retain your current customers when they’re forced to make cuts?

 

Analyze and anticipate your customers’ needs and develop new offerings to keep your business cost-effective and relevant before, during, and after a recession.

Diversifying into New Markets and Industries

Finally, think big-picture and consider which new markets and industries you could serve to cover your bases during a recession.

 

If we look back at the Great Recession of 2008–2009, we see certain industries got pummeled: manufacturing, finance and insurance, travel and tourism, and certain segments of the construction business. New car sales plummeted. Four-year university enrollment declined heavily. Casinos, hotels and motels, jewelry stores—all of these businesses took a big hit.

 

Then there were other industries, like healthcare, that grew during the Great Recession, or at least held steady. Community college numbers went up. Grocery stores did well. Guns and ammunition, veterinary services, correctional facilities, multi-family housing, storage and warehouse leasing, remediation and environmental cleanup services—all of these were winners.

 

According to one recent IBISWorld report, all of the following industries are projected to grow: “tortilla production, wineries, vitamin and supplement manufacturing, software publishing, VoIP, IT consulting, video games, marijuana growing, and a host of online retailers.” Some of these industries may be off the beaten path, but if there’s an opportunity for you to start a relationship with a company in one of these fields, why wouldn’t you?

 

You can find up-to-date information on end markets and industries that will grow or be stable in the future if you take the time to look. The secrets are out there, but they’re not always free.

 

Here’s a pro tip: purchase a subscription to the IBISWorld database, which will give you access to hundreds of different industry reports. Research firms, like IBISWorld, also put out newsletters with information about which industries are hot right now and which are forecasted to perform poorly. Seriously, it’s like having the answer key to a test before you take it!

Don’t Let Your Defenses Drop

Diversifying your customers, products and services, and markets takes continual outreach, research, and maintenance, but by putting in the work and spreading your risk around, you’ll protect your business—and even position it for growth—during the next recession.

 

Jonathan Slain and Paul Belair founded Recession.com to give entrepreneurs a free tool to assess their recession readiness at Recession.com/Ready.

Interested in preparing a recession plan but don’t know where to start? Use the coupon code “felber” at www.recession.com/shop to get 50% off the Rock the Recession workbook to create your business recession-proofing action plan. 

Extend the Reach of Your Media Hits with Social Media

The Additive Manufacturing Media team at a video shoot with Fabrisonic in Columbus, Ohio

Congratulations! Your company has received multiple media hits with the industrial trade media you have been targeting. These stories will live forever on the web, impacting your search engine optimization and manufacturing company’s reputation. Third-party endorsements such as articles, videos, and blogs really move the needle. Check out our client Fabrisonic’s press room here. Below, learn 3 ways to promote your media recognition and drive leads to your brand.

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  1. Share your Media Recognition on Your Company’s Social Channels

Want to extend the reach of your press articles? Post media hits to your social media. If you have the big three social channels for manufacturers (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter), you can reach many more of your followers, fans and prospects by sharing your new-found recognition. Important: When posting, make sure to thank the publication to their social.  By tagging them, you reach their audience as well. Use industry-specific hashtags to reach a larger audience who may be searching for a similar topic.
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  1. Share in LinkedIn Industry Groups

Post the story to industry groups on LinkedIn. We view these groups as if they are a seminar audience. They’re interested in the field and captive. Time after time manufacturers can track lead generation all the way back to a LinkedIn post.

Also, remember to thank the media when they visit your factory.

  1. Create a Press Room on Your Website

Add a press room to your website where visitors can marvel at just how many editors and reporters were impressed with your operation. As I’ve stated before, industry media writing about your company adds third-party credibility to your company. Prospects and customers alike want to work with a successful company with a track record for success. Showcase your media recognition prominently on your website so people can see what makes your company great!

There you have it. Extending reach and the impact of your media stories is just a few clicks away.

What is a qualified lead? Just ask your prospect.

qualified-lead

Prospects have the answers to all of your questions. Have you asked them? Every manufacturer we work with wants more leads. To that end, they prefer leads that are more qualified and prospects that are inclined to do business with your company. So, why is it so hard to find “qualified” leads?

While every company has a definition of what qualifies as a good lead, there are some common traits amongst prospects. Do they hail from a particular industry vertical? Do they hold a certain title or professional certification? Or, perhaps they share common challenges with your existing customers (challenges of course that you have proven your company can meet). Another indicator of qualification is where is this prospect on the buyer’s journey. What signals are they showing, such as having a CAD drawing already designed or perhaps, they have bought similar products previously?

The answer may already be on your website – forms. When we onboard new manufacturing clients, we ask what are the top 5 questions (and the answers) you ask every prospect when you first engage them? The qualifying questions can easily be placed in a descriptive form that, when filled out by your prospect, provides your sales team with a more detailed image of the prospect’s potential to turn into a customer. Two examples of great forms used by our clients can be found at these links:

So, how do you attract them to your website and to the actual form itself? You must have an engaging offer on your website. Perhaps you can offer an industry report, trend analysis or insightful eBook. Or, demonstrate your expertise with case studies or published industry articles. Having a valuable offer with certainly, drive prospects to your forms. Then, let them qualify themselves. Read about how content plays a critical role in lead generation.

Why Manufacturers Need a Content Map for Inbound Marketing Success

Need help with driving prospects to your new and improved form? Engage with us and we’ll show you how we can help.

Download Here Industrial Manufacturer's Guide to Inbound Marketing

FACTUR and Felber PR & Marketing to Host Summer Manufacturing Networking Mixer!


Enjoy appetizers, cornhole, and great manufacturing industry networking!

FACTUR is hosting a “Manufacturing Networking Mixer” in Cleveland at the Felber PR & Marketing Office

When: Aug 6th from 4:00 – 6:00 PM

Where: Felber PR & Marketing: 8963 Darrow Rd. Twinsburg, OH 44087

Who Should Attend: Job Shops, Distributors, Engineering & Consulting, and Service Providers

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How to Increase Manufacturing Sales with Social Selling

social-selling-manufacturing

They like me, they really like me!

Manufacturers have learned that LinkedIn is a great resource for connecting to professionals, promoting your brand and message. Many manufacturers attend trade shows, host webinars and engage in philanthropic activities, which they promote on social media. While these posts are great, manufacturers are missing one critical piece–reviewing their likes and comments.
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You might be asking yourself, are likes and comments really worth anything? The answer: You bet! As prospects and customers become more and more insulated, hiding behind voicemail and email, sales teams are having a rough time reaching prospects, let alone establishing a relationship. Enter social selling. After all, isn’t that why you are building your LinkedIn network in the first place?

Social selling will help you initiate and even build on relationships. You need a systematic, repeatable way to build your prospect pipeline. What better way to build relationships and create sales opportunities than engaging with people that are already liking and commenting on the variety of your content? Whether you are posting company news, white papers, photos of new products or blogs, people are engaging with you on social media should not be forgotten.

You already target a specific prospect persona (see our article Why Developing Buyer Personas is Invaluable for Manufacturers to learn more about personas). And, you already know that they buy on their timeline. Your sales cycle might often be 6, 12 or even 36 months long. This fact alone screams nurturing these prospects with content until they are ready to purchase your products. Here in lies the reasoning behind social selling and inputting those “like and comment” folks into your database.

If you are not connected to the person you’d like to thank for the like or comment, send them a request with a personal note thanking them for their engagement on your post. Along with thanking them for liking your post, you will want to enter them quickly into your prospect database.  It is common, with people changing jobs routinely, that the email address listed for your newly-connected prospect is a Gmail, Hotmail or even AOL. Since you want the business email for your content nurturing program (reference: Why Manufacturers Need a Content Map for Inbound Marketing Success ), here are a few ways to secure the correct email.

Start with their company website. If they’re listed great. You’re done. But, if the website does not list personnel, what can you do? Try the free Chrome add-on www.hunter.io This cool site helps you search for and even anticipate the email structure (e.g. first_last@abcmanucturing.com) that the company uses.

Another free Chrome add-on for use while on the LinkedIn contact’s screen is www.contactout.com. Now that you have the correct business email, you can continue to build, nurture and engage your prospect with your brilliant content. Happy social selling.