Why Sales Enablement Is Key to Manufacturing Companies’ Growth
The manufacturing industry has recovered to its pre-pandemic production levels, but future growth is uncertain.
One need only look at the auto industry for an example of how manufacturing has been upended. Parts are short in supply, customer preferences have changed, and we’re experiencing record-high inflation. All of which severely impacts buyers and sellers alike.
All these challenges are forcing sellers to change their approach. The old way of doing business does not work. Manufacturing salespeople can no longer sit back and take orders. Nor can they rely on in-person meetings and trust built on years-long relationships. They must be proactive in finding prospects, nurturing digital buyers, and winning sales.
To do that, however, they need help. That’s where sales enablement comes in.
One of the best growth strategies for manufacturing companies is implementing an effective B2B sales enablement strategy. This agile approach gives your sales team the tools, expertise, and content at their moment of need to engage buyers and close more deals.
- Creating a centralized repository of updated sales materials
- Providing mobile access to sales content whenever reps need it
- Ensuring reps understand how and when to use each asset
- Getting qualitative data on usage and quantitative feedback on whether collateral is succeeding
- Connecting sellers, managers, and subject matter experts (SMEs) with prospects and buyers
If your sales enablement strategy doesn’t include those, your sellers will be held back and will struggle to win deals.
4 Pillars of Sales Enablement for Manufacturing
Sales enablement for manufacturing and industrial companies rests on four pillars: training, content, collaboration, and insight. Here’s how these capabilities work together to build an effective sales enablement solution.
1. Product and Process Training
Manufacturers must onboard new hires with both formal, foundational training and informal, just-in-time learning. Instead of relying solely on courses and exercises, modern approaches empower reps with learning that bridges the gap from training to behavior change.
Learning In Action: A sales rep has completed their formal training, but they need to prepare for a buyer meeting. The meeting is virtual, so a ride-along with their manager isn’t possible. Plus, their manager isn’t available for a call. With a sales enablement platform, they can find the most recent competitor comparison to help handle objections. They can also find videos from other reps and get tips on how to present to this type of buyer.
2. Sales Content and Messaging
The ability to create, manage, and track sales and marketing collateral is the next pillar of sales enablement. Equipping sellers with relevant content in context, discoverable at the key moment to move business forward, is essential.
Modern approaches also allow managers to activate sales collateral with messaging, talk tracks, and win stories to highlight the best use of the content, and recommend deal-specific content based on sales stage, competitors, and other factors.
Content In Action: Before going into buyer meetings, reps can differentiate themselves by recording and sending a personalized video message along with a PDF, explaining why the asset is helpful and increasing the likelihood prospects will show up to the meeting. Reps can also create Digital Sales Rooms to house all the content shared with the buyer, eliminating the risk of emails being blocked or accidentally deleted.
3. Communication and Collaboration
Sales enablement fosters communication between geographically dispersed reps, managers, subject matter experts, and buyers. It supports collaboration without the hassle of travel or scheduling live meetings. The best solutions help sellers and managers to develop strategies and best practices to drive deals and improve results.
Communication In Action: Reps in different time zones using a sales enablement platform can collaborate asynchronously using video messaging to harvest intel from meetings, inform on other deals in progress, and share insights. Reps can also use the tool to get advice and tips from their peers about their presentations. It’s as simple as recording their pitch, uploading the video to the platform, and requesting feedback—which is provided in line, precisely where a change is needed.
4. Performance Insight
The most effective sales enablement is data driven. It integrates platform dashboards and analytics from training, collateral, and calls for a single view into performance drivers. It also measures buyer engagement throughout the process to tie actions with outcomes. Sales leaders can find out which sales content pieces are moving the needle, as well as which sales conversation topics correlate with success.
Insight In Action: Managers with a sales enablement platform can review sales reps’ calls and practice videos to identify coaching opportunities, while reps can track prospect activity on collateral to understand engagement and buying intent. Sales managers can also score and track reps’ competencies, helping them stay ahead of quota attainment problems.
Sales Enablement Helps Manufacturing Sales Teams Pivot
Today, the manufacturing sales environment is more competitive, more complex, and more digital. And once you think things have stabilized and your reps can settle into new methods and tactics, something new is bound to come along to disrupt things all over again.
In order for sales teams to endure constant changes, they must be agile. They must be able to pivot and adjust as markets, supplies, and customer needs continue their roller-coaster ride. A sales enablement strategy that includes the four pillars—training, content, collaboration, and insight—will help them do that.
Download The Manufacturer’s Guide to Sales Enablement to learn how to maximize revenue with manufacturing sales enablement.