Best Practices to Acquire More Manufacturing Sales Leads


  • Industrial best practices shift unsupported ideas that lack measurable execution to prescriptive methods that achieve forecasted business outcomes. Marketing research and evidence-based best practices take the guesswork out of growing the sales funnel.
  • Each evidence-based best practice is validated by industry research, includes a prescriptive framework, has a purpose-built measurement system (i.e., dashboards and predictive analytics) and leverages technology automation.
  • Research shows that the Best-in-Class industrial companies did not achieve the top revenue growth performance results with random strategies, processes or technologies. The data reveal they excelled by orchestrating a combination of processes, technologies and analytics to achieve extraordinary results.
Johnny Grow Revenue Growth Consulting

Manufacturing Sales Leads Fuel Revenue Growth

There's a lot to learn from the top industrial companies.

Best practices to accelerate manufacturing sales leads and step up revenue growth are born from research. They reveal what the Best-in-Class industrial marketers (i.e., the top 15%) did to outperform their peers (i.e., the other 85%). And they show how they did it.

These lessons offer prescriptive recommendations that save time, increase focus, lower risk and show the most direct route to increase manufacturing sales leads, new customer acquisitions, and revenue growth.

How to Acquire More and Better Leads

There is no shortage of opinions of how to grow the sales funnel and customer acquisitions. But opinions are just that, and veteran executives know that some work and most don't.

Fortunately, leading practices backed with data (i.e., evidence-based best practices) reveal verifiable lessons on what works and what doesn't. They help prioritize time and investments for the biggest revenue impact.

Here are three examples that show how evidence-based best practices can be sequenced to achieve streamlined processes, technology automation and information reporting. And  how they collectively work together to acquire far more manufacturing sales leads.

Best Practices to Grow Manufacturing Sales Leads

Precision Marketing

The days of sending generic messages to broad audiences are behind us.

Research published in the Marketing Transformation Report found that industrial marketers that applied customer intelligence programs achieved 12% higher marketing campaign conversions, 9% lower cost per lead, 5% higher sales win rates and 6% lower cost per customer acquisition.

Customer intelligence and buyer insights are the prerequisites to acquire more manufacturing sales leads and lower the cost per lead. Programs to harvest this data include capturing Voice of the Customer (VoC), calculating the Ideal Customer Profile (ICP), maintaining a centralized 360-degree customer view and aligning offers, campaigns and other engagement pursuant to customer segments or personas.

Customer Insights Integration to CRM

The above schema illustrates how customer intelligence can be categorized and managed in the CRM system. This allows the data to be easily filtered and extracted for marketing and other purposes.

The research found that less effective marketers used marketing software to cast a wide net. While techniques such as email marketing maximize outreach and produce plenty of lead generation metrics, they also decrease conversions, increase cost per lead and do little to engage customers. And when customers mark non-relevant marketing messages as spam the industrial company is thereafter blocked from future engagement.

The Best-in-Class industrial companies did several things different when compared to their lower performing peers. Before the first campaign was launched they identified buyer insights for each type of buyer. They defined their competitive advantages. They then used these insights and advantages to solidify their brand and unique value proposition, calculate their ideal customer profile (ICP), and apply data to launch precision marketing campaigns.


Marketing Automation Platform

Marketing automation platforms are the technology that bring process automation, information reporting and scale to lead acquisitions and growing the pipeline.

Marketing software research surfaced the 5 most effective marketing applications.

Top 5 Marketing Technologies

Marketing Automation Platforms (MAP), often referred to as Marketing Clouds, were ranked as the most effective technology by the Best-in-Class leaders. These applications automate 6 essential sales lead acquisition processes:

  1. Digital lead tracking measures online prospect interaction with campaign offers, promotions and other marketing artifacts. The highest performers use these digital footprints to adjust campaign content and improve engagement.
  2. Online lead acquisition techniques use a landing page or similar tool to capture prospects interested in the company's products. The top performing industrial companies acquire more and better manufacturing sales leads by using content marketing programs. These programs create information buyers find compelling. This type of content shifts engagement from outbound (interruption-based) marketing campaigns that perform poorly and annoy recipients to inbound marketing campaigns that educate and inform prospects.
  3. Lead scoring calculates an objective score for each manufacturing sales lead. The score calculation is based on explicit (firmographics, demographics, technographics) and implicit (digital footprints, online behaviors, customer sentiment) criteria. Each lead score shows if an acquired lead is sales-ready, not yet sales-ready or not a fit for the company's products. The top performing industrial companies skew the lead scoring formula toward implicit data. That's because they know that explicit data only shows how interested the manufacturer is in the prospect while implicit data shows how interested the prospect is in the manufacturer.
  4. Nurture marketing campaigns engage prospects that are not yet sales-ready. These buyers are in the early evaluation stage and not ready to speak with a salesperson. Applying drip campaigns allows the industrial company to stay top of mind and track buyer signals that will reveal when the prospect is ready to speak to a sales rep. The top marketers do not forward unqualified prospects to the salesforce because they know that wastes valuable sales time and creates lead leakage.
  5. Lead distribution to sales occurs once the prospect's buy signals reach a minimum threshold score, indicating the prospect is sales-ready. The lead is then automatically routed to a sales rep. The distributed lead record should include the prospect's digital footprints from the marketing cloud to the salesperson's CRM system. That allows the seller to quickly view the prospect's online history and determine what the prospect is most interested in.
  6. Lead analytics show which content artifacts get engagement and drive conversions and which don't. They show which campaigns convert different target audiences and which acquire the prospects that most convert to new customers. The most effective industrial marketers use multivariable propensity models to show the combination of offers, content, channels, and call to actions that most convert for each customer type or target audience. That allows them to optimize their resources for improved manufacturing sales lead acquisitions.

Business Intelligence

Business intelligence, often just called analytics, helps manufacturers continuously improve lead conversions and grow the sales pipeline.

However, while the Best-in-Class performers cited analytics as their top tool for increased lead acquisition performance, their lower performing peers were more often data rich but information poor.

Here are the four components the highest growth industrial companies used to build their analytics.

  1. Data Transformation
    Data is an asset. But to yield value, it must be converted from a raw material to a finished product of information or insight. That's best done with a data transformation process.
Data Transformation Pipeline

Most of the data resides in the MAP, but data will also come from additional sources such as the social sphere, data enrichment providers and other company systems such as the manufacturing CRM software, configure-price-quote application, field service management system and possibly an IoT hub. When done at scale, data transformation converts data from an unused byproduct to the company's most valuable asset.

  1. Performance Dashboards
    The most effective dashboards deliver the right information to the right person at the right time. They focus on the most important key performance indicators (KPI) and prioritize insights based on what's essential to each type of user.

They show what work needs to be done in a sequenced order. That aids time management, creates a work rhythm cadence and maximizes labor productivity.

However, to be candid, most dashboards disappoint. They display what is easy instead of what is important. They display static data and entirely backward-looking information.

The previously mentioned research report found that dashboards achieve up to 30 percent utilization immediately following an implementation cut-over, but within 3 weeks that utilization falls to 9 percent. Over time it falls further. The decline is due to dashboards not providing real help to users.

The key to business intelligence is to translate activities into business outcomes, measure what matters, and instrument lead acquisition performance with real-time KPIs.

Analytics are most easily consumed when KPIs are prioritized into groups. For example, the research found that primary KPIs include lead acquisition growth, marketing sourced revenue growth and campaign ROI. Secondary KPIs include lead conversions, lead quality, lead growth and cost per lead. Tertiary metrics focus on activity and engagement measures.

Sales Lead Dashboard
  1. Predictive Analytics

Industrial marketers deliver the most valuable reporting when that information can engineer future financial outcomes. Predictive analytics are powerful because they can engineer the methods to acquire more and better manufacturing sales leads.

Without predictive analytics, the view and information for every person in your industrial company is entirely backward looking.

A recurring pattern among lower performing industrial companies is that they don't know what types of campaigns or combination of offers, content and channels will optimize lead acquisitions, lead conversions and pipeline growth. So, they pursue what they know instead of what is most effective.

A smarter approach is to apply data-driven pro forma analytics to compare campaign alternatives. This allows marketers to perform predictive modeling, compare alternatives, measure the trade-offs and plot the shortest and least cost route to the most qualified sales leads.

The data that drives the forward looking calculations is sourced from campaign and sales history if its available or industry benchmarks if it's not. In working with industrial companies to populate these models, we find that most believe they don't have the needed data. But quite often they have more data than they think, it's just distributed among multiple systems and decentralized in data siloes.

Revenue Growth Predictive Analytics

Marketing analytics research found that predictive analytics was the technology that most separated the highest and lowest performing manufacturers. 84% of the Best-in-Class actively used predictive analytics. That was 67% higher than their lower performing peers. This is a significant difference that should not go unnoticed by those manufacturers seeking more and better leads for the pipeline.

  1. A Data Driven Culture

Finally, a data driven operating culture is needed to deliver the last mile of business intelligence.

Management should promote a culture that shifts decision making from intuitive, gut-based and subjective decisions to data-driven, fact-based and objective decisions. This is often done with what many analytics experts call a data driven operating model (DDOM.)

Just over 100 years ago, a wise man named W. Edwards Deming instructed his management team, "In God we trust, all others must bring data." That sentiment perfectly describes a data driven operating culture.

In God we trust William Edwards Deming

The Point is This

Precision marketing, marketing automation and supporting analytics are three of several manufacturing sales best practices to acquire more and better manufacturing sales leads at a lower cost per lead.

The most helpful best practices for any given company will depend upon the company's baseline performance and target goals and be validated with a predictive analytics model.

The point is that evidence-based best practices show how to acquire more sales leads and grow the sales funnel most effectively. They provide prescriptive guidance to forecasted results and share insights that save time, reduce investment and minimize risk.

See the best practices to acquire more manufacturing sales leads and grow the sales funnel.

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