Gain More Business – Industrial Marketing and Selling
Three years ago I made the conscious decision to sacrifice my Engineering training in order order to develop my Sales and Marketing abilities. It is a decision that I am happy to have made as in that time I gained certification in a highly specialised standard of Sales called Integrity Selling as well as completed the Sales Consultant Development Training. Skills which I am now able to use as an Engineering Consultant. The training I underwent entails 3 years of grueling Sales Development consisting of almost 100 courses. These consisted of the following topics:
- Strategic Selling
- Business Acumen
- New Technologies(Virtual Reality)
- Industry Ecosystem
Each of these courses has three levels; Foundation, Advanced and Master. To give an example; under Strategic Selling the courses under each of the three levels were broken down as follows:
- Capital Equipment Lifecycle Management
- Sales Enablement
- Sales Fundamentals
- Sales Management Simplified
- Virtual Selling for Sales Professionals
- Players Won’t Play if Coaches Don’t Coach
- Integrity Selling in a Changing Environment
- Selling with Integrity
- Creating a Positive Customer Experience
- Empathy for Sales Professionals
- Identify Sales Growth Opportunities
- Sales Coaching
- Sales Strategies and Approaches in a New World of Selling
- Customer Behaviour Styles: Talker, Doer, Supporter, Controller
- Pre-Call Planning and Post-Call Analysis
- Sales Closing Strategies
- The Persuasion Code – The Neuroscience of Sales
- Becoming Head of Sales – Developing Your Playbook
For three years my day to day involved going to clients; doing Sales Calls; contract management; product presentations; sales administration; placing orders on behalf of clients; distributing marketing material; coordinating logistics with supply chain; delivering products to clients and ultimately giving technical advise and consultation to end-users as they make use of the product. But it was during this time that I learnt the most valuable skill in Sales – the well known “Sell Me a Pen” exercise. Being an Engineer I learnt something even more valuable and that is the best way to sell someone a pen is to explain to them how the pen is designed; how and where it is manufactured and take them to see the extensive logistics it takes to get their highly valued pen to them. While it might not always be possible to show them physically – taking them on a virtual whirlwind tour in their mind is enough to get your clients to walk the journey with you by being a part of it through supporting your business. With this in mind this is why I have decided to write a series of articles on how you can gain more business as an Engineer or Technician by understanding Industrial Marketing and Selling.
In the series I will be covering topics such as; What is Marketing? How Marketing in Engineering is Different to Traditional Marketing, Types of Advertising: Direct Mail; Web and Email; Telemarketing etc., Sales Management, Building Relationships, Public Presentations, Resellers, The pain points of getting your messaging to your customer; the pain points of not hearing your customer, researching and finding new business clients, market research and other topics. This is by far not an extensive list of all the information you may need at your disposal, but it is enough for you to startup. We shall start by defiining Marketing from the persective of an Engineer.
The Definition of Marketing – According to an Engineer
“The art and science of finding, keeping and growing profitable customers” – Philip Kotler
Most people do not see or know that there is a difference between selling and marketing – from the get-go, or in Engineering terms from First Principles it is critical to have an understanding of the subtle difference between Sales and Marketing. The first thing to dispel from your mind is that marketing is selling, this couldn’t be further from the truth – though it is an integral part of advertising; marketing is not just selling and selling is a very important part of marketing – but only just a part of of it. Philip Kotler put it best as in the opening line to this article. To understand is from the point of art and science is to intimate that Marketing is the bringing together of creativity and empirical methods in order to serve a need of a person, a group of people or society at larger and that in itself is the defined role of what an Engineer does.
I want you to understand the definition of marketing from the above perspective lest you think that marketing is merely: “The whole process of persuading customer that they are better off buying my goods or services, now and in the future”. With that being said; for the sake of following a set standard let us go with the definition of Marketing as given by the Institute of Marketing Management which defines it as: “The assessment and creation of demand, the utilization of the resources of production and distribution and to meet that demand at a planned profit”. This definition is best from the view point of an engineering or technical professional as it brings home the point that production plays a critical role and effects the entire value chain of supplying the customer with their desired product. It drives home the notion that marketing is not just a department whose sole job is to bring in sales, but rather marketing can act as the main motivator for personnel on the production floor. Marketing is about making them know that their relentless pursuit to producing the highest level of quality is directly tied to the needs and wants to the customer of the company. By making this direct correlation you imbue the understanding that the same pride which they feel when they produce a product that meets all quality standards on the factory floor is the same sense of pride that their customer feel when they use the product in their home or place of work. Once you are able to make production personnel have a sense that the company’s end-users are their customers you would have achieved the goal of making marketing an organisation-wide endeavour. The success of any marketing campaign is attained when every member of the organisation is included in the commercial efforts relating to the product or service being marketed.
New product introduction is probably the most understood need for marketing by technical professionals and engineers. Without marketing customers would not be aware that a product exists – this is always the case when it come to the improvement of an existing technology. If it were not for marketing the latest feature which engineers spent months in R&D working on would never be known to the end-user whom they painstakingly designed it for. And without previous sales of the product they would not be able to begin on their next improvement and so the cycle goes. This shows how critical a role marketing plays in Engineers being able to justify the need to invest in R&D for an improvement in technology and marketer s do this by creating a demand for the need of the new feature and the benefits thereof.
Now that you have gotten an idea of how and why marketing can get just as complex as engineering, it is important to apply the same principles in find a solution to engineering problems. In this case the problem is attempting to change or maintain the perceptions of a customer about our company and ultimately our products and services in order for them to be more likely to make use of our products and buy our services. In order to break down this complex into its smaller sub-systems you need to ask the following pertinent questions:
- Who are my customers?
- What are my customers looking for above everything else?
- How can I help them get what they need and want?
- What knowledge do I have that can help them make the best decisions in meeting their current needs?
- What are they happy or unhappy about?
- What are the short-term trends in my industry?
- What are the long-term advances in my industry?
Answering the above questions is the most advantageous way to start any marketing endeavour. These questions can be asked in many different forms and different books, articles or people will ask them in various ways. The way in which you ask them has to ultimately be with the goal of sharing your engineering and technical expertise in a way that helps your potential and actual customers gain the level of understanding which you have regarding the product, service or solution needed.