Talking to manufacturers and industrial companies on a daily basis has convinced me that when they say they need help with their lead generation, they really want more RFQ (Request For Quote) opportunities.
Generating new leads, qualifying and nurturing them until they turn into a RFQ is too much work for them. For a real-life example of this lead generation disconnect, read my post, Manufacturers: Don’t Start a Lead Generation Campaign without Sales.
During my internal discovery process, in nine out of ten cases, I’ll hear the President/CEO/Owner of manufacturing or industrial companies tell me one of their goals is to double the volume of RFQs they generate. To most of these decision makers winning new business is strictly a numbers game. They are convinced that the more they quote, better are their chances of scoring more deals.
I have to politely disagree with them because “activity is not the same as productivity.” It is not an easy sell for me to change this mindset. I have to make a strong business case before I can even get their attention.
Here are the steps I go through to change their minds and have worked well for me:
Step 1: Give them an overview of what inbound marketing is all about and how it differs from traditional outbound marketing. I direct their attention to all the blog posts that I’ve written in the past about inbound marketing for industrial companies. Many of these articles include findings from research studies done by respected third parties. Hardcore numbers and statistics are powerful tools in convincing skeptical technical decision makers.
Step 2: Show them why it is a bad idea to treat all leads the same and jump right into creating a detailed price quote or RFQ. I talk about how the job of inbound marketing does not end with lead generation but extends into setting the table for sales so they can be more productive. See my article, “Inbound Marketing Must Set the Table for Industrial Sales.”
Step 3: Plant the idea of creating a structured lead management program that objectively scores leads, get sales and marketing to agree on the definition of a qualified lead before sales will take follow up action. Read my post, SAL is the Glue that Binds Sales and Marketing in Lead Generation.
Step 4: Discuss how to create a planned and repeatable lead nurturing program to maintain contact with the prospect when the sales cycle is long. It is important to understand that a good lead nurturing program is NOT the same as an automated drip email marketing program or picking up the phone and telling the other person that “you are calling to touch base.” Lead nurturing must move the prospect forward in their decision making process and help you discover objections and push backs along the way. Your RFQ can be easily derailed without this critical step. See Lead Nurturing Is Not A Marketing Option, It’s A Sales Necessity.
Step 5: Convince them that none of this is easy, quick or cheap. Unless there is complete buy-in from the top, it is impossible for me and/or their internal marketing team to produce results. How I overcome the objections at this step is a topic for another blog post.
BTW, did you realize that the above plan of action wouldn’t work unless I had a blog that is devoted to industrial marketing? Manufacturers and industrial companies can adopt the same blogging strategy instead of reinventing the wheel each time they need to answer questions about their proposed solution and/or RFQ. I can’t stress enough about the importance of using a blog as an integral part of your inbound industrial marketing strategy.