2019 Sales Forum Event Recap

It is no secret that one of the biggest challenges reported by manufacturing companies is strategically managing their sales process. To that end, MAPP and ARPM came together to create an event laser-focused on helping manufacturers understand best practices in managing sales. Together, MAPP and ARPM held the first-ever Sales Process Forum, a symposium focused specifically on how to best manage critical components to business
development. This full-day event featured seven presenters who are sales professionals from member companies, four roundtable exchanges and culminated in final event takeaways and action plans. This summary serves as only a brief, high-level overview of some of the presentations and discussions at this event. 

RFQ / Quoting Process

Automating Initial RFQ Process

To kickoff the event, the first speaker presented on how he is using tools to automate and track his prospecting and quoting process. 

Utilizing HubSpot, his organization is able to: 

  • Individually track unique prospects and customers
  • See the last time they were contacted and the next anticipated activity date
  • Link to Outlook to monitor when someone has opened an email and immediately follow-up with that client
  • Track notes and tasks associated with each deal
  • Log communications with that customer so others within the team can understand stay in-tune with each client
  • Understand if each deal or client:
    • Has had an appointment scheduled
    • Is qualified to buy
    • If the decision-maker has bought-in
    • If a contract has been sent
    • And when a deal has been won.

With this system, they can automate alerts and reminders for specific checkpoints along the process.

Strategies Inside the RFQ Process

In generating and evaluating potential opportunities, one speaker explained their organization has a detailed checklist of information required to vet out projects.

To start evaluating a new opportunity, they require the following basic information:

  • Annual volume and program life
  • Print, CAD and component-specific requirements (testing specs)
  • Resin and purchased component information
  • Contract pricing
  • Price adjustment process
  • Alternative proposals
  • Commercial requirements

Afterward, they review with a cross-functional team made up of sales, purchasing, production, engineering, quality and tooling. During this meeting, they discuss capacity, process, tooling and quality.

Additionally, a feasibility review is conducted. This includes:

  • Internal and external feasibility
  • Documenting ALL concerns to the customer
  • Documenting ALL feedback from the customer
  • Asking lots of questions

Finally, they negotiate and live by two important adages:

  • • “Don’t fall in love with the program”
  • • “Don’t take a loss today for tomorrow’s opportunity.”

Customer Management & Underperforming Accounts

Customer Account Reviews

When evaluating your customers and projects, one organization completes customer account reviews. During this, the organization can decide if they want to grow this business, increase prices or exit a customer.

The process overview looks to identify if there are areas of growth potential. The results and outcomes could include:

  • Undeveloped customer with growth potential: Create a strategy to increase sales
  • Low maintenance customer, not a lot of growth potential: Keep the customer but increase prices
  • No growth potential: Increase prices or transition away from the customer

Each option requires input from the CEO, CFO, operations manager, quality manager, toolroom, and sales.

After a decision and strategy are established, companies should conduct monitoring activities to track progress and stay accountable to the results.

The goal of these reviews is to improve margins, increase pricing, gain space and focus on the top customers with the most opportunity for growth.

Three Key Perspectives

When evaluating underperforming customers, everyone has an opinion on what it is and what to do about it. One speaker shared how they gather three key perspectives before they make decisions:

1. The Sales Perspective:

  • Does the customer still have overall potential?
  • Is the company in a market that you want to be in?
  • Is the company a brand name?
  • What about the payment terms?
  • Do they pay on time?
  • What are the profit margins?

2. The Manufacturing Perspective

  • Complexity of parts
  • Complexity of tooling
  • Complexity of the manufacturing process
  • Complexity of the quality process

3. The People Perspective:

  • How is the relationship with the customer from these perspectives: Engineering, Quality, Purchasing, Manufacturing, Shipping, & Accounting

People from each department complete an evaluation spreadsheet on each of the above perspectives using a rating system of 1 to 5. Reviewing the metrics allows organizations to objectively see what is in the best interest of the company.

Marketing and Social Media

Developing Customer Personas

Marketing is more than just advertising, and it takes a detailed strategy. One opportunity is developing customer personas. A marketing persona is a “model of a particular type of person who will read and interact with your content marketing which will increase their chances of taking some desired action.”

These personas for customers are important because:

  • They force us to gain a better understanding of specific types of people.
  • They help us to create compelling, targeted messages that those people will find valuable.
  • They clearly define our audiences so that everyone involved with content marketing shares a common understanding of the audience(s).

Included in a persona is are answers to questions like the following:

  • Title / Industry
  • What are his or her primary responsibilities?
  • Who does he or she answer to (not necessarily report to)? With whom must he or she collaborate?
  • What’s the problem he or she has that’s got them searching the internet for solutions?
  • What internal or external pressures surround the purchase of this type of product/service?
  • What objections does he or she have about our type of product/service?
  • What roadblocks will we encounter as we try to sell to him or her?

Targeting Those Who Don’t Convert

After investing in a new website, many companies have a system for following up with leads who convert into prospects or “hot leads”. However, it is equally as important to have a process for companies that are coming to your
website in your desired target markets that are not converting. These are “warm leads.”

By using Google Analytics companies can track website performance and create a custom report within Google Analytics to track specifically “behavior search patterns”.

This report allows one organization to see what companies are hitting their website and not converting. 

After reviewing these companies and identifying those organizations inside your target market, one speaker recommends creating a target list. Using this target list, companies should spend time on LinkedIn, websites and other data information sites to find appropriate contacts.

Then, go after new business by cold calling, sending LinkedIn InMail, direct mail and email marketing campaigns.

Most importantly, continue to follow-up and use multiple methods for communication. Only 2 percent of sales are made on the first contact, while 80 percent of sales are made on the fifth to twelfth outreach!

More information about upcoming events like this one, can be found on the MAPP Events Page