The Manufacturing Executive
The Manufacturing Executive

Episode · 10 months ago

Fill Your Sales Funnel in 2021 w/ Joe Sullivan


In today's podcast, I break down a simple three-step framework for what a mid-sized B2B manufacturer should be doing to fill the sales funnel in 2021. This year, we still can't rely on trade shows or other in-person meetings.

Here's what I recommend you do instead:

  1. Focus on the right people from the right companies
  2. Create amazing content specifically for them
  3. Distribute that content consistently to as many of the right people as possible

To ensure that you never miss an episode of The Manufacturing Show, subscribe on Apple Podcasts, or Spotify, or here.

Step one create focus on the rightpeople from theriy companies step to create amazing content, specificallyfor them step. Three distribute that content with consistency in front of asmany people in your total addressable market as possible. Welcome to the manufacturing executivepodcast, where we explore the strategies and experiences that aredriving midsize manufacturers. Florard here you'll discover new insights frompassionate manufacturing leaders who have compelling stories to share abouttheir successes and struggles and youill learn from btob sales andmarketing experts about how to apply actionable business developmentstrategies inside your business. Let's get into the show, welcome to another episode of theManufacturing Executive Podcast, I'm Joe Sullivan your host and a cofounderof the Industrial Marketing Agency Gerilla, seventy six, so two thousandand twenty one is here and just as much as probably everybody else out there.I'm ready to put o thousand and twenty in the rearview mirror no need toelaborate on that point. So I'm going to skip the fluppy stuff and get rightinto the meat of it today and what we're going to be doing here isbreaking down a very simple three step framework for what we at guerillabelieve that a midsized bdb manufacturer should be doing to fillthe sales funnel in two thousand and twenty one, which is you know, turningout to be another year where trade shows and inperson meetings will belargely sidelined, at least for the first half of the year, and we'll seewhat happens after that, but so, let's get into it here. There are threesimple steps here, or at least I'm going to make them as simple aspossible, and I'm going to talk about what they are real quickly here andthen we'll go into each one in more depth. So number one is focus, numbertwo is create and number three is distribute and here's what I mean byeach of those at a very high level. So when I say Focus Number One simplystated: I'm talking about picking an audience segment and dialing in withthe laser focus on that audience. So you want to look for one of the bestmost profitable types of customers you serve and then specifically, focus inon the most important buying process influencers inside of those types ofcompanies. Maybe that means mechanical engineers or CNC machinists or plantmanagers or CFOs, or some combination of these people and inside of aspecific type of company in a specific vertical or or geography, butregardless of what it means for you it you know it's. This is about focusingbeing intentionable intentional about who you are going to target and thencommitting to that, as opposed to trying to spread yourself, then we'lltalk more about that in depth, but number two is create, so you focused onan audience now. What we're going to do is we're going to make amazing contentassets that speak to the things that those specific people care about themost e' talking about the buying...

...triggers that lead them into the buyingprocess. I'm talking about the biggest challenges these people face in theirjobs. Talking about the questions they most commonly try to get answeredduring sales calls with your team, regardless of what those things are. Wewant to create amazing content assets that showcase your expertise and helpthat person during their buying process and then the third step here that willdial in on is distribute. So what we're talking about now is distributing theseamazing content assets for a very specific person it in front of as manyof these people as possible, so strategically choosing what contentdistribution channels we use that will guarantee consumption by as much ofyour total addressable market inside of that audience as possible. So that'sthe framework. Now, let's talk in more death about what what each of thesemeans and how to go about doing it. So, let's start with number one focus so ywe've consulted at gorilla, hundreds literally hundreds of midsize BBBmanufacturers throughout the course of our fourteen year existence, and I cancount probably on one hand definitely to the number of these companies whohave said we only serve one or two core audiences you. Instead, what I'mhearing is well, we serve fifteen different verticles or different typesof customers and they're all really important, but you know I think, ifwe're honest with ourselves here, we all know that not all customers arecreated equal and if, even if somehow they are, you can't win the marketinggame without focusing in on one or two or maybe three of thosesegments and just being very intentionable intentional about yourmarketing with that audience. So one of t, the most important pieces of adviceI can give you here, is make that decision. As early as you can this yearchoose an audience and let's go hard at that type of customer. If you don'tyou're just going to spread yourself, then you're not going to have enoughbudget or manpower or combination of those two things to make a significantimpact anywhere and worse. Yet your message is not going to resonate withanyone in particular, and that's just going to position you as anotherinterchangeable generalist as opposed to an organization that has deepexpertise and can help a specific type of customer achieve what they're tryingto achieve. So you n one last point on on this number. One Focus that I wantto emphasize here is that focusing yourmarketing effort does not mean that you are no longer serving all those othersegments. I think this is the biggest piece of pushback I tend to get earlyon when I have these conversations with clients is that you know they say well, we can't just zeroin on these twosegments, because we've got all these other ones that are important too, and,and I'm not saying those other ones aren't important. I'm just saying youcan't channel your energy toward all of them simultaneously or you're going toget nowhere. So what it does mean is that for the next three or six months-or maybe even this year, you're going to commit your organization to winningbusiness with a specific type of...

...customer via very intentional dial, Dinmarketing strategy, that is for them. Okay, so enough on focus, let's go tonumber two of three in this simple marketing framework, and that is createso now that you're locked in on a veryspecific audience segment. What you're going to do here is create amazingcontent that speaks to the things that that type of person from that type ofcompany actually cares about. So how do you figure out exactly what thosethings are? That's going to be probably one of the first questions to getanswered here right. How do we know what this type of person cares about? Ithink the best things there are a couple things you coal do here, thebest things you can do go talk to five or ten of your current customers whofit the profile that you're targeting the types of customers that, whereyou're finding yourself saying. Oh Man, if we could just replicate this type ofcustomer and have you know three more of these types of companies ore, ahundred more whatever it looks like for you, you know who your best customersare and why? Let's go talk to them and let's learn things like: Why did theychoose you as opposed to en your competitors? What do they think intheir mind? Sets you, apart from your competitors, that they didn't choose?What's your value proposition right? What what problems have you helped themsolve in their words? Not In your words, we can make assumptions about that, buthearing it directly from them can be a different story. What problems do theywish that you could help them solve that? Maybe you're not, and maybeyou're, not asking those questions, or maybe you are, but regardless. Theseare the things that you want to learn from them, and these are the thingsthat can feed the type of content you create to then go put in front of morecompanies who look like them. You know. The other thing I want you to do hereis go talk to your sales team. If that's not you, some a lot of thelisteners to this podcast are probably coming from a sales background. But ifthat's not you then go talk to your sales team. What are the most commonissues that they are hearing about regularly from these types of customers?These ideal custers that you're going to zero in an target with some focusthis year? What are you they hearing from them biggest problems that thesepeople are talking about? What are those buyers struggling with and whatthings are they trying to achieve and during particularly consultative salescalls? What are the specific questions these people are asking time after timeit may be very specific product or service related questions, migh be verytechnical things, but talk to your sales steam, and you know the othergroup to talk to maybe depending on what type of organization you are. AreYour engineers or your sales engineers, people who are having technical. Youknow engineer to engineer conversations with your audience. What are the thingsthat they're talking about, and can we develop some content topics aroundthose things? So then, the next thing you want to do is organize all these insights you'regathering from your customer interviews and from your internal conversationswith yeur sales teams, your engineers, let's organize all this, maybe into aspreadsheet, that's what we like to do. We've got a tool on our website that Ican link to in the show notes, but you...

...know organize all these. Thesedifferent topics, you figure out who are the subject matter experts at yourcompany. That would be the ones to provide the insights on these topics,and it doesn't mean they have to write about it or film, a video about it.Maybe you can help facilitate that, or so somebody on your team in themarketing rol can help facilitate that. But regardless get those things down onpaper start organizing im start thinking about which are the best onesthat the most compelling content ideas that you know you could create contentaround you can produce this content in a number of different formats to oudoesn't have to be a written piece or what you'd think about traditionally,as a blog post or something you can do it that way, and it's agreat way to do it. If you have the ability to get, you know tat thosethings down in words on paper and and develop really good written content.The other thing you could do is launch a recurring Webbonar series, maybeevery other week or once a month you have one of your subject matter:Experts or two, even better two or three of them talking together in avery conversationalway about these topics and then opening up a QNAsession with a live hyper targeted audience. You know that audience thatyou decided to focus on of course and step one other things you could do. Youcould bring it a videographer for two days or one day film. Your expertstalking about these things, while the camera rolls could some again your teaminterview them, or could you put two people together in chairs and have themsort of riff on a topic that you're constantly hearing about from youraudience? Another way to do it would be start a podcast like I'm doing righthere. You know what Aare, when you think about all these things thatyou're hearing in these sales calls and customer interviews. You can sit hereand talk about them. I'm doing that right now. You know I've had a numberof conversations with people about where to channel their their spendtheir media budget, whether it to hire an agency or do work internally, but alot of companies have budget to spend with trade shows going away, and howcan you keep your pipeline full without it? Well that that's what I'm teachingin this conversation right. So what's your version of that? How can you utilize a podcast as a medium or aWebbin, ars, a medium to speak directly to your audience aboutthese things that you know they care about? So those are four ways to do it:blog post, Webin our series bring in a videographer start a podcast,regardless of how you do it the concept. I really like that we've talked aboutinternally a lot with our strategy. T Mat Carilla is this idea of thenetflixing of BTB content, or you know you think about the way youget sucked in by a great TV show, O on Netflex or Amazon, prime or Hulu orwhateverever. You Watch Watch your shows these days, great content, that'scompelling, like a really good show. You wind up binge watching it oneepisode after the next right and the next thing you know you've polished offa whole season in a weekend or two weekends or whatever, but the idea is,you can have the same effect on your audience. If the content that youcreate is compelling to them and speaks to the things that they care about intheir job, this is the B to be the... version of Netflix content, so think of it thatway. People consume this cot. This exact podcast you're. Listening toright now. In this way I have a lot of listenerswho you know. I hear from them very frequently saying hey herd your episodelast week with so and so, and it was great and I'm looking forward to thenext one. Okay, you can do this, you can do it throw a Webbennir. You can doit through a podcast. You can do through written content that goes liveevery week and then its distributed through email or, however, but think ofthat idea of how do you create compelling content in a consistent way,publishing with a regular cadence? So people expect mores, coming and they'reready to consume it all right. So we've talked about steps. One in two one isfocus to is create all this amazing content. Number three is distribute,and this is where so many companies miss the mark. We did an episode aboutcontent distribution not too long ago, a few months back. That goes into muchmore depth with this, but this this step, I think, is where a lot ofcompanies miss, because they think of you know publishing content from anIndon marketing perspective. Where you publish content, you optimize it withsome key words if it's written or optimizeit for Youtube, if it's videoor whatever, and then you let it sit, and you wait for people to show up andfind it and and that should absolutely be part of your strategy. You know I'man advocate of inbound and Seo and doing it right, but that's along game. You know it's y. u you can't, would just dive into that game andstart winning. You know a couple months into doing it. It's going to take yourtime and, depending on how competitive your space is in the real world andonline, it can be really difficult to see significant results quickly, and sothere needs to be a component of taking this amazing content, you're creatingand then going directly at that audience. You're focused on anddelivering it to them directly, and there are a few ways to do that: the're,probably a lot of ways to do it, but I'm going to talk about a few of them,but really what it comes down to is make an assset that your audience isgoing to care about and then go get it in front of as many of those people asyou possibly can, so they can consume it as opposed to letting it sit therecollecting dust on your website or wherever you're publishing it. So let'stalk about a few ways to distribute that content. One is by email, and thisis what probably many of you are used to doing. But you know, if you thinkabout it, what think about what your existing database of a thousand peopleor ten thousand or a hundred thousand is used to seeing from you and theirinboxes. For most of you, it's probably a company newsletter, that's Jampackwith first person pronouns lots of immy. We us our talking about the trade showyou're going to be at and talking about h. You know the new new customer, youjust landed and the new project are working on and the reality is mostpeople are just going to sort of ignore it they're going to breazhe right by it.It's not helpful to them, it's talking about you and they care aboutthemselves and their problems and goals, not you and yours, until they're, inthe process of actively vetting you for a project or something that they needhelp with. So...

...we need to shift the mindset here,create amazing content and use email to distribute it so that you're creatingvalue in their inboxes every week or every other week, probably at the at aminimum, and when you're talking to the you speaking to those problems, theyhave ind. Questions are trying to get answered, they're going to payattention, as opposed to just you know, bragging about yourself, so think ofyourself as a media source. Think of your favorite media sources, where yougather information and read about new developments and technologies andproblems at other people like like you are trying to solve and how they did it,whether it's an online. You know it's a website, T at's a trade journal. Ifit's a you know who knows anywhere, you gather information and even in yourpersonal life, you know if you're, a reader of the New York Times or CNN orFox News or wherever you gather information, be that for your audiencein your Nich and I'm not talking about breaking news. But I'm talking aboutdeliver exceptional content that people are going to want to consume, be thatsource. The best source possible for your specific niche around yourexpertise and instead of talking about yourself, provide helpful, resourcefulinsights, okay, so that is email. So again, we're talking about step, threehear which is distributing your content. Email is one way to distribute it, bethat media source deliver content to them regularly via email. Another wayto do it here that is I'm becoming more and more of a fan ofis using the paid social. MEA channels bear with me here. If this is sort ofnew to you or something that you know you might might not think is going tomake sense for your audience, but linked in and facebook are both reallygreat sources to distribute this. This content, you're, creating but you'reGOINGTO, probably have to put some media budget behind it. So you knowmost most companies what they do by default. Is they use their companypages on linked in or facebook to talk about all the stuff you can buy fromthem and what new machinery they're touting and how mazing their customerservices and who won the company volleyball game at the company, Picnicand stuff like this, and their followers are scrolling right past itfor the most part, like you'll, get some engagement on that stuff, but it's!This is not something! That's helping! You fill your funnel okay, so there isa place for that to broadcast company culture. Absolutely I'm not sayingthere is not, but right now we're talking about business development andfilling your funnel, and that's not going to do it for you. So the other problem with using yourcompany pages in unlinked in in facebook is, is probably about point.Oh one percent of your total addressbale markets even seeing theseposts in the first place, so you know linked in and Facebook, they've gotalgorithms that you know they're created to try to show content topeople that people want to actually consume and to the right types ofpeople, and so at you've got to do here.

Is move beyond just using thesechannels? Organically posting, through your company pages in particular, you'building a personal, a personal brand is a great thing to do. Unlinked in inparticular, I think, but building an audience takes a lot of time. You knowif you've got five hundred connections on linked in Er ther. You know three hundred followers or whateveryou're not going to reach much your audience. That's that's the reality.You've got to have tens of thousands of people following you. You need to beposting consistently. You need to be. You need to be commenting on otherpeople's things and all this stuff takes time and and it's so so I guesswhat I'm advocating for here is not just using those organic socialchannels to try to you know spit out links to your new blog post throughyour personal linked in or your company linked in or facebook page. What I'mtalking about here is putting some significant budget, probably a fewthousand dollars a month, minimum behind promoting the amazing contentthat we talked about, creating and step to it. Where you're answering questionsyour solving problems, you're ddressing buying triggers and whether thatcontent takes on the form of video or written or audio, you can use facebookand linked in to say you know: Hey, Hey, Lincon or facebook show this contentthis little video or this written piece of content show this to everybody withthis job title from this type of company in this geographic region, withthese interests, and now what you're doing is, is youre amplifying the reachin front of a very intentionally targeted audience to show that amazingcontent you're creating to as many as possible? So U This can get fairlycomplex. I'm trying to keep it simple and not get into the weeds too much,but you know a few things I want to comment on here. You know people pushback on facebook in the BTB world. Your buyers are on facebook like a third ofthe world, is onfacebook, and so just because facebook tends to be aplace, for you know, people to post family photos and vacation pictures-and you know things like this: It's not a business focus network. Here's thereality! You know you, your siblings, your children, yourparents, they're probably on facebook and all those people are most of thosepeople have jobs to and they you know they have a personal life and they havea a work life and just because they hop on facebook at ten PM, while they'rewatching sports center or whatever the local news, and they that's on the TVand they're sitting on the couch flipping through facebook. It doesthey're not in business mindset, but it doesn't mean that when somethingscrolls across their feed that relates to an issue they were having today or aquestion that they were trying to get answered yesterday or last week whenthat scrolls across their feet, all of a sudden, because you veryintentionally targeted them, they're, probably going to stop and they'regoing to watch. It might be a forty five seconds video and then thathappens again next week they watch another video or see another articlerelated to this problem and then...

...another one. A few days later. All of asudden. What you're doing here is what we'd call building no like trust withthese people. Your your building awareness by being in front of themconsistent, you're, delivering insights that matter for them and as they startto consume that content all of a sudden you're starting to take on an expertposition in their minds, and so it's this happening with consistency that isgoing to allow you to to make some impact. So I guess to to kind of summarize thisparticular the step. Number three: a distribute you've got all these amazingassets you're making in step to for a very intentional audience you createdand step one. Now we got to go, get the stuff in front of people, people weneed to stop with the Tradeshi the trade jhos areare, going away with.What I was going to say is: We need to stop with the Pren ads and the tradejournals you K, O two thousand five tousand a month. I see companiesspending on these Prin ads, sometimes even more just because you've beendoing it for the last twenty years, N and Thi stuff getting people nowhere.You know at very few people can say you know. I spent this much in a Prinad ina trade journal, and I know that it returned this to me. Well, Lincoln orfacebook will show you it's going to show you data on what what percentage of people areconsuming this content, what types of companies are consuming it? It's goingto give you data on WHO's, Ou k, ow, how many people are clicking throughand what happens on your website after those people. Click through like thisstarts to become very measurable and as you do it with consistency over time,you're going to be able to to tie some rli to it. So all right. So in summary, step onecreate focus on the right people from the righ companies step to createamazing content, specifically for them step. Three distribute that contentwith consistency in front of as many people in your total addressabulemarket as possible, all right. So that is it. I am going to conclude by recommending that, if you're looking atyour strategy for this year still check out our industrial marketing roadmappage on our website, we do a strategy project with with new customers. Wherewe're going to help you sort of look at all this stuff figure out. You know thebest way to get you from point a to point B via really the same strategythat I just described here. So if you want to chat, let's do it check out ourindustrial marketing roadmap and thank you for listening. We will catchyou on the next episode of the Manufacturing Executive. You've been listening to themanufacturing executive podcast to ensure that you never missed an episodesubscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. If you'd like to learnmore about industrial marketing and sale strategy, you'll find an everexpanding collection of articles, videos guides and tools specificallyfor B to B manufacturers at grilla. Seventy sixcom AH warn thank you somuch for listening until next time.

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