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Many engineering firms focus most of their attention on operations, which is understandable considering the complex nature of the work. However, like any type of company, they must rely on a productive and effective sales operation in order to reliably communicate the value of their services to high-quality prospects.
Gather as many details as possible about your targeted prospects
Audience targeting is arguably even more important for engineering firms than it is for other types of businesses. Your prospects have incredibly specific needs and are trying to solve extremely detailed problems, which heightens the importance of identifying exactly whom you're selling to and understanding what they're looking for.
This requires a deep and robust connection between the marketing and sales functions, but it's the surest way to demonstrate to your prospects that you have thorough knowledge of the issues they are facing. For optimal results, engineering companies should research and invest in innovative customer relationship management software solutions, which utilize advanced analytical processes by tracking numerous customer data points.
Use relevant content to drive value for your audience, even if a sale isn't imminent
In a recent survey by Gartner, only one-third of buyers indicated that they believed salespeople effectively communicated business value. This is troubling indeed, since providing value should always be the number one priority for anyone selling anything, whether it's a traditional product or a highly-technical professional service. Salespeople have access to a powerful tool that they employ all too rarely: content.
Content can be strategically incorporated throughout all stages of the selling process, and it can also be used to maintain communications with existing clients and contribute to future growth of the account. The one caveat to using content to drive sales is that it must always be relevant to the client's business interests. Content is just another tool used in service of creating value for the audience, and sharing pieces that don't follow this rule will encourage the client to ignore your communications or even potentially sever the relationship.
Be readily available for the client when things go right... and when they don't
Many sales experts as well as buyers have indicated that they view salesperson responsiveness as one of the most important factors throughout the customer journey, and it's prominence also follows through into the post-sale relationship. This is especially true for engineering services, as clients are managing expensive, lengthy projects that are varied in scope. When dealing with these clients, accurate and fast communication is an absolute necessity before, during, and after the job.
Emphasize KPIs that are tailored to your industry
Metrics are an integral component to the sustained success of any company, but not all indicators make sense in every situation. Engineering firms are working in a distinctly different selling environment than other product-based B2B sales organizations, and it's important to strategically choose KPIs that reflect this fact.
For example, the sales cycle for a typical engineering firm is usually long when compared to other types of professional services and products. Prospects spend a significant amount of time researching options, and the negotiation period can be lengthy due to complex variables and regulations that must be examined. This increases the importance of effective lead generation, since spending so much effort on a prospect that isn't a good fit can seriously impact the organization's future. Because of this, you may want to focus on metrics that indicate the health of your lead generation effort, such as such as percentage of sales-qualified leads converted or lead profile deal size.
Pull out all the stops to nurture your relationships
Sometimes the details mean everything in the relationship between a client and a sales professional. Communication skills, responsiveness time, willingness to contribute ongoing value, and acting with respect and kindness all play crucial roles in maintaining healthy relationships with clients. Acquiring new customers is expensive for engineering firms, so it makes sense to try and provide as much value as possible for your existing customer base. These things may seem like small touches, but taken as a whole they represent your company's dedication to nurturing a long-term business relationship.
Build trust, and then use it to everyone's advantage
Building trust in a B2B setting often takes time, but once you have achieved it, it can yield tremendous benefits. Rely on your trusted and satisfied customers for high-quality referrals. With over 80% of buyers seeking recommendations before considering a purchase, having a trusted referral could easily be the difference between a new prospect accepting a sales call or looking at other options. Your existing clients will want to continue their fruitful relationship with you while opening up another opportunity for your firm to provide value for someone else.
Danny Wong is the co-founder of Blank Label, an award-winning luxury menswear company. He also leads marketing for Receiptful, a platform to supercharge all customer interactions for eCommerce stores, and Tenfold, a seamless click-to-dial solution for high-performance sales teams. To connect, tweet him @dannywong1190 or message him on LinkedIn. For more of his clips, visit his portfolio.