Many of us have the constant and seemingly insurmountable challenge of getting our products or services in front of industrial buyers for consideration and ultimate purchase. Breaking through the procurement firewalls can be more difficult than actually convincing the industrial buyer to purchase from you.
So, let’s take a look at the obstacles and cover a few key points.
First and foremost, you need to be selling a product or service your target actually needs. Sounds simple, right? Well, it has been my experience that many times, companies looking to sell to the industrial buyer focus way to heavily on pushing products and services they THINK the buyer needs. Do your research – do they have longstanding relationships with your competitors? Do they have inside capabilities to create or handle things on their own? What are their buying cycles? The key thing to focus on here is identifying the pain-point your potential customer has, then positioning your product or service accordingly.
From there, identify the key decision-makers. Take a professional services buyer, for example. Here, you have identified a potential target that needs your engineering support. You offer a better service than they currently have; you have greater expertise than they have in-house and you can even identify ways your company can save the customer money over a relatively short period of time. Great start. Now, who do you talk to first?
To start, seek out the leader or group that would benefit from your services – they need to understand your capabilities. Messaging and content that speaks to what you can offer your potential customer is key here. Again, it should be focused on their pain-point(s) and how you can solve the issue or challenges, not just a bunch of marketing-speak around what you offer as a company. Make it relevant. Make it resonate.
At the same time, you have to crack the procurement firewall. Most often, this is simply a money/value decision, which is sometimes hard to initially demonstrate to this audience. The best scenario here is to create a value proposition that addresses the direct challenge they probably have – more service, less cost. Again, target your message to the pain-point of the user. In this case, it is a value driver. How do you deliver to this particular audience?
Get your content and message out there where they can find it when researching companies like yours (because they do a lot of that). Keep in mind at this point, you are just a vendor that sells things. This buyer probably does not understand what you do or how you do it. Make sure they see you on the Internet, trade directories, trade organizations, etc. This buyer wants to know that you not only offer the best value you also have a solid track record of performance and are established in your industry or field. They are not only looking for the best cost or value, they also need to make sure you are a credible choice since they may not be fully understanding of the type of products or services you offer.
Still, even after you align messages and value propositions to the user and the purchaser, you have to get your company in front of the ultimate decision-maker. Sometimes it is a senior leader, other times someone up a level in purchasing, or a corporate entity who oversees buying for the company. This is where the first two mentioned above come into play. Done correctly, your messaging and pain-point solving capabilities will be championed by the ultimate end-user and the procurement office, giving your company a green light to proceed with establishing a new purchasing agreement to sell your services.
Here is a quick flowchart as a visual aid:
I’ve way over-simplified the process but I think you get the idea – more often than not, there are multiple parties and levels to overcome when trying to sell your products or services into the industrial customer. Remember, you have to not only focus on the end-user of your product or service, you also have to keep in mind how to position your company to the procurement department and other senior leadership. In many cases, this might take much longer than you think – be patient and follow up at every step. Once you are in the customer’s “system,” it will become much easier for future opportunities.
Learn how Elevation Marketing can help you increase brand awareness and drive further product consideration with this product positioning case study.