There are many important steps in the industrial buying cycle that the typical sales funnel misses. The early stages of research, data collection, and vendor comparison made possible online are frequently unaccounted for in sales metrics that put a premium on phone calls and in-person meetings.
Manufacturers and distributors who successfully extend their funnel to include these key moments in the buying cycle not only position themselves as authorities in an increasingly competitive space; they tend to generate more leads. And it all starts with content.
There are several types of content you can provide in these early research-oriented stages of the buying cycle that can supplement the process of generating those leads – we’re going to look at three that play an outsized role.
Educational Resources for Vendor Selection
The first type of content that can influence the buying cycle is purely educational. This is the information you provide to prospects when they are just starting the research process. It includes eBooks, white papers, infographics, checklists, and compatibility charts.
The primary goal of this type of content is to address the primary concerns and questions your target personas have. This can come in two forms:
- Form, Fit, and Function – Design engineers who are building a new part or system and starting the process of researching vendors they can recommend to procurement are interested in exactly how parts are sourced from companies like yours. This includes discussions of material selection, part variability, compatibility, and installation.
- Pricing and Process – On the procurement side, your ideal prospect is looking for key information about how to reduce costs when sourcing parts for a project, and what factors will impact lead time, delivery, and overall quality and cost. A guide on how to work with your business is highly valuable to them.
By preparing high-level educational content that addresses the questions and concerns of these two primary personas for your services, you can extend your funnel to include those who previously may only visit your website.
Certifications and Sales Resources
Once someone reaches the point of comparing vendors and reaching out for additional information, there are certain things they’ll need. These include documentation, quality confirmation, and company resources that will help them to more quickly vet your business against others in the same field.
Your website can address this and put your business atop the list by including commonly needed resources such as:
- Certification Downloads – Provide PDF copies of your ISO certificate, any shipping certifications for international work, and any relevant industry certifications.
Quality and Delivery Data – Provide verified resources that illustrate your quality processes, on-time delivery rates and safety data.
- Equipment Lists and Value-Add Services
– You can provide both on-site resources that outline the services you’re able to offer alongside a downloadable document that clearly illustrates this value.
The goal is to ensure procurement has as much of what they need as possible to vet your company when adding you to a potential vendor list.
Product and Service Resources
Finally, when the time comes to select your services and source your parts for a new product, your website should support their research as much as possible. Whatever part or process data is needed to make a selection should be freely available. This includes:
- CAD Files – If you are an OEM or distributor of off-the-shelf parts, CAD files make it easier for design engineers to spec your products directly into their designs. These have immense value and greatly reduce the time needed in researching your company.
- Case Studies – For custom manufacturers, the best way to illustrate your abilities is to showcase previous projects. Show what you have done for people and how you can do the same for them. Case studies should be all encompassing, showcasing your primary services, design support for custom work, and the range of value add services you offer.
The goal of this type of content is to ensure a prospect sees, at a glance, what you can provide them, how it will integrate with their designs, and what they will need to provide when working with you. The more detailed this information is, the better they can evaluate your company outside of a one-on-one phone call.
Extending Your Sales and Marketing Funnel for Industrial Prospects
If you have a well-constructed website that clearly outlines the value of what you offer as a custom manufacturer or OEM, you can greatly increase the number of leads your website generates, improve the quality of those leads when they contact you, and extend your sales process into the early research stages.
This can have an immensely positive impact on your marketing results, and ensure your sales team is in a good position when the time comes to start those phone calls.