Agile Insights Blog

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Know Your Manufacturing Customer’s Sales Journey

Jun 12, 2017 4:44:12 PM

By considering our customers’ unique sales journey and buying styles, we can tailor our messages and sales approach, and increase our sales effectiveness.

What is a Customer Sales Journey?

A customer sales journey describes all of the steps that go into a customer’s thought process from the moment that they realize that they have a need, to the point at which they purchase your product to fulfill that need.

Four Common Triggers in Manufacturing Sales Journeys

There are a couple of scenarios that commonly trigger a purchase. Those include:

  1. Does the customer need disposable parts or supplies? They may be looking to purchase our product on a regular basis as those parts are worn or supplies depleted. We can reach this type of customer by providing scheduled shipments of product.
  2. Does your customer expect to win a new contract soon? A contract manufacturer, for example, may seek to structure long-term deals with suppliers to cover the obligations they have with their customers. We can provide this type of customer with a structured sales plan to reassure them they’ll always have the products their contract requires.
  3. Has the customer recently won a big deal or has a production emergency arisen? This may be a single instance where they need to purchase a large amount of product. We can use our expertise in coordinating manufacturing sales to reassure this type of customer that their special shipment of product will arrive swiftly.
  4. Does your customer have equipment that is nearing replacement? Customers may decide to replace large machinery at predictable time intervals. We can use our understanding of how fast equipment tends to depreciate, or our knowledge of available upgrades and new technology to reach this type of customer.

Each Customer Has a Unique Buying Preference

Knowing our customers’ common sales triggers only describes half of the customer sales journey. We should also consider that each customer may prefer to buy from us in a different way.

Some customers prefer long-term contracts, so they can avoid being surprised by a sudden price increase when the market shifts. Other customers prefer to watch the market and to only purchase supplies, products, or equipment when prices are low. Some manufacturing customers will only make a purchase when a machine needs replacing.

Reflect On Customer Motivations and Needs

It’s critical to consider what customers’ motivations and needs are while trying to make the sale. As a salesperson, you should determine what type of buyer your customer is. Ask yourself:

  • Identifying the opportunity
    • What is likely to be the next buying trigger for the customer?
    • How will the buying trigger influence the buyer’s behavior, and how will this be different from previous experiences with this customer?
  • Nurturing and negotiating the opportunity
    • Independent of buying trigger, does the customer prefer a long-term contract? If yes, that customer may be motivated by low, limited-time, or guaranteed fixed pricing.
    • Is your customer interested in buying large quantities immediately because the market is in their favor or because they won a big deal? If the market is in their favor, they are likely most interested in price. You should identify how low you are willing to go and then avoid throwing in too many added services, since they likely will have little effect on the final decision.
    • Is your customer in an emergency situation or facing unexpected demand? This customer might be most receptive to sales messages about a delivery timeline. They need your products or supplies urgently.
    • Does the customer only buy supplies, parts, or machines when they need to be replaced? If yes, we can estimate the length of time that will pass before a machine needs to be replaced or upgraded. In the meantime, this customer may be receptive to information about upgrades to products that measurably could make their jobs easier or more efficient.
  • Closing the deal
    • How will your primary contact be personally affected by the decision to buy from you? What can you do to ensure the personal success of your primary contact?
    • Who else will be involved in the final decision to purchase from you, and how will their needs be different from your primary contact?
    • Does the customer organization have particular procedures or legal requirements that need to be satisfied in order to move forward?

The better you know your customers’ motivations and needs, the easier it will be to anticipate their needs, tailor your sales messages, and improve the timing of your sales calls.

If you are waiting to communicate with a customer until they reach a point of purchase, you are approaching the customer too late in their sales journey. It’s important to nurture your relationship and get to know their unique sales journey. Only then will you be able to sell your product or service in the way that is most relevant to them.

Bart Frischknecht, PhD
Written by Bart Frischknecht, PhD

CEO, Cobomba, Vennli strategic partner
Bart is all about building marketing technology to help business leaders achieve growth goals. He is passionate about using data to put customers’ needs and choices at the center of strategic decision making. Bart’s background is a blend of design, marketing, and engineering, which provides a unique perspective on a company’s role to create, communicate, and deliver value to its customers.

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