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So, Your Sales Team Thinks Your Products “Sell Themselves”? Think Again.

By Rob Hawse

Illustration of Sales Team

In manufacturing, marketing and sales teams may not always see eye to eye on the resources and tools needed to accomplish shared business objectives. It’s not uncommon for sales management to dismiss tools or ideas from the marketing department because the product is so innovative or of higher quality, has a significant market share or the OEM sales team relies on distributors, so the products basically “sell themselves”.

However, a company that relies solely on the product to “sell itself” and does not embrace marketing initiatives as a component of its strategic selling strategy will find itself with dwindling market share which could lead to revenue loss.

New Generation, New Customer Buying Expectations

two individuals shacking hands over a table covered in business papers, laptop, and tablet

We get it. Sales teams have been functioning the same way for a long time and it’s been effective. However, many manufacturers haven’t always had true competition. Some products used to sell themselves. But now, with a saturated market and a shift in decision-makers, manufacturers need sales and marketing to work as a team to keep up with the change.

For example, the Baby Boomer and Generation X decision-makers that most manufacturers are familiar with are starting to retire and they’re passing the baton to their technically savvy Millennial and Generation Z successors. This shift is pushing manufacturing marketers and sales teams to rethink the previously established methods of customer communication and touchpoints.

These rising individuals base their buying decisions on non-traditional means and demand up-to-date marketing assets and channels of communication such as:

  • Website
  • Digital ads
  • Webinars
  • Peer online reviews
  • Thought leadership
  • Social media presence

With this expectation for multi-channel, multi-media and interactive communication, the next generation of decision-makers may reject the past sales methods that built your brand foundation and market share over the last decade(s).

The "passing of the baton" to technically savvy Millennial and Generation Z decision makers is pushing manufacturing marketers and sales teams to rethink previously-established methods of customer communication and touchpoints.

The Reality of the "Products Sell Themselves" Mindset

group of coworkers collaborating around a desk with laptops and a calculator

1. Limits Company Growth

While relying on the products to sell themselves based on past performance may generate repeat business with existing customers, it doesn’t grow your new lead pool or promote overall company growth.

When manufacturers rely solely on sales teams and tactics to push products, future potential is being left out.

2. Lost Market Share

Historically, manufacturers have been accustomed to high market share due to limited competition. However, as innovation booms and competitors start entering the market (especially with strong financial backing), established manufacturers’ market share starts to drop because customers have more viable options to choose from when selecting a solution.

If product sales aren’t promoting growth in the company, manufacturers become vulnerable to losing market share when competitors enter the picture with fresh ideas, unique product value propositions, and customer acquisition techniques.

Learn Why Entitled Market Share is Killing Your Brand Experience

3. Limits Reach

Let’s assume there’s one sales manager covering multiple states. Even if they're doing their job at peak efficiency, they can only realistically cover three or four prospective customers a day. Additionally, most sales teams need to allocate time to visit existing customers, which further limits their time for new business.

Sales representatives can only be in one place at one time, and they can only touch base with so many people in each workday. Marketing supports their efforts by keeping the company in front of prospects in various digital formats, helping your company stay top of mind without the assistance of traditional sales activities.

Your Company is More Than Just a Product

manufacturing employee using a grinder on a large piece of metal

The shift in decision-makers has also laid the foundation for more collaboration in today’s manufacturing sales and marketing efforts. Rather than sales teams going at this venture alone, they now have the support of marketing throughout the buyer's journey. A potential customer may never speak to anyone and base their decision to reach out to sales or a distribution partner on their experience with marketing touchpoints, and most importantly, the brand itself.

And yes, to an extent, products may appear to sell themselves. But it's not because marketing and sales just sat back, watched and profited. It’s because of the loyalty built based on a foundation laid by sales and marketing teamwork that includes innovation, relationships, impactful messaging, and follow through on the brand promise from all sides of the business.

In Conclusion...

So, do your products sell themselves? Just because you’ve made it this far doesn’t mean there isn’t more work to be done. Both marketing and sales need to continue to work together to build brand loyalty, grow market share, and stay competitive.

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