Resistance to Change is a natural phenomenon we are all subject to. It’s easier for some of us, harder for the rest. However, when an organization has to change the way it works, it becomes REALLY, REALLY HARD!

This is particularly so for Sales and Marketing in the SMB Manufacturing space which has grown up in a “Build It and They Will Come” approach, which the coming of the Internet has literally thrown out the window! The tried and true mechanisms just don’t work anymore! It is a reality today that the B2B buyer now operates like a consumer in terms of the demands on the features and benefits of what they buy, as well as the steps in the buying process.

During the last 20+ years, manufacturing companies have focused on Operational Efficiencies, Quality with Six Sigma methods, and Cost Cutting through Supply Chain efficiencies and Just In Time approaches. But when it comes to Sales and Marketing methodologies, I find that companies are trying to do business the way it was done years ago! This is the reason why a common CEO complaint is that they spend all this money on SEO and new web sites and marketing, and while it generates increased traffic, it does not result in increased sales!

It has been interesting to see how the term “Buyer Behavior” is commonplace in consumer directed industries, and how many SMB manufacturers respond with a reaction akin to “What’s that?”. To me, it speaks to the fact that understanding the Buyer’s journey has never been a priority.  This has to change.

Hubspot presents a 3 stage approach to Buyer Behavior (Awareness-Consideration-Decision), which is easy to understand, but just does NOT do justice to reality in the B2B space. On the other hand, Philip Kotler’s model does fit in nicely for most situations. Of course, this model needs to be adapted to specific offerings in specific markets. Basically, the steps are:
1. Awareness
2. Interest
3. Need Arousal
4. Information Gathering
5. Trial
6. Adoption or Purchase

and one more step that I’ve added which is
7. Customer Service

Why add Customer Service? Because when looked at holistically and from an economic perspective, existing customers are the cheapest and easiest source of additional business, which makes Customer Service absolutely critical in creating the right buyer experience!

It is absolutely imperative for SMB Manufacturing companies to adopt such an approach. The alternative is that limited budget gets spent ineffectively. Additionally, it is absolutely imperative to understand what your dollar of Sales and Marketing spend does to prospects and customers who just happen to be in one of the stages of the Buying Process.

And the ONLY way a small company can AFFORD to manage this is with a good and robust CRM like Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

References
1. http://blogs.aberdeen.com/aberdeen-group/wholesale-b2b-and-b2c-convergence-preparing-for-2015-beyond/
2. http://academy.hubspot.com/broadcasts/the-buyers-journey

EBS Inc. helps small and mid-sized manufacturing companies use CRM technology to become exceptional in the efficient execution of Sales and Marketing strategies. Please call 610-355-7481 for more information.