Listen To Your Customers For Industrial Marketing Success
Industrial marketing is viewed by many as having many shades of grey. So often, what seems to be straightforward is actually quite complicated. Paradoxically, what seems to be complicated is actually quite simple. Confused yet? Well actually it’s all pretty clear when you even give it some passing thought. Well somewhat clear. Well, anyway.
I would like to provide you with an example of a very simple industrial marketing practice that is unnecessarily complicated by many manufacturing companies. This example will illustrate that many of the grey areas found within industrial marketing are actually quite clear. What you will discover is that much of the “black art” of industrial marketing is not all that mysterious at all.
So, away we go.
How to be an industrial marketing guru or a sales leader by reading and acting on one simple sentence
If you want to be an industrial marketing maven or a sales star all you really need to do is to take the time to first find out what is truly valuable in your marketplace and then provide it.
As easy as falling off a log, right?
Now finding a need and filling it may seem like a pretty simple thing to do (and it is), but there are a few key hurdles to be overcome before you can master your industrial marketing and smash through your sales quotas.
Choosing to ignore these hurdles is what complicates a fairly simple fundamental principle of industrial marketing which is, listen to your customers.
Consider the validity of your sources
First, you must totally accept the importance and validity of using market research to make the key decisions that shape your industrial marketing. In order to do this you need to become completely comfortable with ignoring the opinions and assumptions by anyone in your company who say they know what is viewed as being valuable by your marketplace.
Many manufacturing executives are resistant to having market research performed because they believe (incorrectly 90% of the time) they already know exactly what is most wanted in their marketplace. The source of this erroneous knowledge is usually the sales force (but it can be others).
Interestingly, if you take some time to do a bit of digging you will notice that what a particular salesperson thinks is most valuable in any given product is precisely what the salesperson says is valued in the marketplace.
For example, if a particular salesperson in your company thinks that innovation is the biggest strength in your products, they will inform you that innovation is most valued in your marketplace. Wrong.
Consider the sources of your answers
Second you must perform your market research with the only people who have any type of opinions that matter. These people are the prospects and customers in your marketplace. Oh, did I mention that only their opinions really matter?
Consider the only way to get the unvarnished truth
Third, you must use a neutral third party to perform your market research or you will never get the unvarnished truth. When we perform market research for our clients those prospects and customer being researched provide us with the kind of full and frank answers that our clients would never get. By being a neutral third party we get to the truth.
The truth, however unpalatable, is what our clients need to move forward with confidence.
Consider the futility in business as usual despite the market research findings
Fourth, you must act on the findings of your research. Now this is often easier said than done. I can’t tell you how often senior executives say (in effect) that they know more about what their marketplace wants than those fools within the marketplace in question.
It is the utmost in futility to spend time and money on market research and not act on the findings.
Take it from me, when you modify your marketing and selling methods based on what the market research has uncovered you start to enjoy faster growth with far less struggle. Once you have accurate information about the true wants and desires in your marketplace you will have both power and precision in your marketing and selling activities. You can tightly unify all of your marketing communications as well as your selling process.
Some opinions are more important than others
When considering how to best structure your marketing strategy, lead generation, lead development, and selling systems be certain you are operating with the correct information. The opinions of your technical staff, financial staff, production staff, operations staff, sales staff, and senior executives, and anyone else within your company are what I like to call relatively irrelevant.
The only answers that matter, and should be acted upon, are the unfiltered answers you get directly from your marketplace. This can only be done by having a neutral third party survey them. You may not like the answers you get, but these answers will provide you the key to growing your company.