How to stay out of the trough of despair (part 3 of 3): 9 ways to market and sell like the big B2B boys

Most US manufacturers, finishers, and assorted job shops are being kept out of the digital revolution – and their valuations reflect that!  If you do not want to stay in the trough of despair (see my previous blog posts Peloton and Stan Shih’s Smile Curve and How to stay out of the trough of despair (part 2 of 3), and How to stay out of the trough of despair (part 1 of 3)), you need to digitize. If you digitize your footprint, you too can get more value for your work.

This blog will suggest 9 concrete things you can do to increase your value in the sales and marketing phases of the manufacturing value chain.  These actions will result in:

  • Faster time to market ->> MORE SALES
  • Reduced risk through better process modeling ->> LOWER EXPENSES
  • More digitization ->> MORE BETTER EVERYTHING

And if a serious lack of labor is your number one problem, then the biggest potential benefit you can get from increasing your digital footprint is to make what you do cool again by adding interesting tools and techniques that can attract more talent to your shop!!!  (Not that it ever wasn’t cool.)  

Here are our 9 suggestions:

1. Is your website as good as your 1-800 number?

The question you want to answer is: Can customers do business with you just on your site (good – frictionless) or do they have to pick up the phone (bad – lots of friction)? If you think that the right call to action is to pick up the phone, well…the 1980’s called, and they want their sales organization back.

It’s a simple concept, but if your product is too complicated to sell online, you will not sell it online.  To get to this nirvana try this:

Step 1 – Find a simple product or offering – offer a bare bones version

Step 2 – Try to sell it online

Step 3 – If it sells, start to add options

Step 4 – If it doesn’t sell, try another product!

Rinse and repeat.

2. Spend as much time and effort on your website as you do with your best distributor or customer

Your website is your front door, and it’s open to all visitors.  But B2B websites typically struggle to work as well as B2C.  According to recent DigitalCommerce360 report: 

“81% of B2B mystery shoppers reported that it was not easy to make a purchase through a manufacturer’s website” (

This should surprise no one who has ever tried to buy a pallet of anything.  Spend time on your website and ask every one of your existing customers if they use it and what they think of it.  Make your website its own sales channel with either a dedicated team or dedicated time.  

3. Don’t be afraid to put it all out there

Strong content is the key to effectively selling online.  The higher the content quality, the higher you are ranked in google and other search engines.  Don’t be afraid of putting your CAD drawings on your site for download (and get their emails, of course).  For most manufacturers’ websites, the highest trafficked pages are CAD libraries. 

We also highly recommend utilizing CAD assets to drive lead conversions. CAD and other technical files are critical lead generation pieces for manufacturers and actually convert leads 2x more into sales opportunities.

It’s simple to see why: a serious industrial buyer is more likely to submit an RFQ to the one who answers the greatest number of questions upfront and provides the best information. To convert this website traffic into leads, you’ll need to prove you’re worth it, and make high quality content available to them.

Other types of high value content:

  • Product Catalog with spec sheets, CAD models, BIM files, Gerber files, etc.
  • Case studies to show off your solution
  • White papers to showcase your expertise
  • eBooks to educate your customers
  • Kits of multiple products bundled together to offer something greater than the sum of its parts
  • Webinars to demonstrate and inform
  • Newsletters to show deep industry knowledge
  • Videos of people installing, reviewing, upgrading and generally using your product
  • Long-form blog posts to entertain and attract new leads 
  • Online calculators to help them get their jobs done

But the BEST TYPE BY FAR: Testimonials are a great way to create strong content.  If you can’t get a customer to type out a testimonial, interview them over the phone and slap it on your site.  

Better Data =>> Better rankings and more traffic!

One last idea: a 700-word product description isn’t going to cut it (it won’t even be read) when customers come to your site.  Don’t tell them, show them!

4. Make sure you add search to your site

Make it easy for your folks to find stuff.

5. Check with your distributors about adding your data to their catalog

Make your product info available on your distributors’ sites, both for their internal consumption as well as for them to market your stuff.  

6. Publish digital catalogs to easily communicate with your distributors and customers.

Your customers want a comprehensive view of your offerings — they’ll click, open, play, and download if you make it easy. A dynamic eCatalog is catnip to interested and motivated customers.

When your products are missing important data, they are invisible. You can’t sell what people don’t know you have. 

7. Regularly post on LinkedIn or YouTube – both great for B2B

LinkedIn is business-first so you’ll find businesspeople there. YouTube is great for showing potential customers what you can do. B2B is a very niche market, making it easier to reach audiences.

Bonus: shooting videos on the floor is cool – people love watching how stuff is made in a real factory.

8. Offer digital subscriptions to encourage repeat sales.

See if any of your products can be offered subscription-style.  Everyone else is doing it!

9. Use multiple online digital sales channels! 

According to Forrester Research, rich omni-channel experiences deliver several competitive advantages for B2B businesses — especially those with complex products.

So, try HeyScottie! Click here to sign up as a partner and grow your sales!   

I hope you’ve enjoyed these three posts – I hope you use these tips to stay out of the trough of despair and show just how incredible, effective and proficient your organization is.  You will be able to do with increased digitization which allows quicker communication and quicker transactions.