5 Biggest Marketing & Sales Challenges for Engineers

Posted by Michele Nichols on Tue, Dec 30, 2014

Customer Experience Sells

ideasWe’ve spent almost 30 years helping tech companies set marketing and sales strategies that reach new customers. Although the word “sales” typically conjures images of overzealous, comb-over-sporting used car salesmen, sales are a necessary part of your business’s profitability and growth. Sales funds innovation, which in turn fuels more sales.

Whatever your role in the business, you will impact your customers. Technical and engineering roles are critical at every step of an effective sales process, particularly in building credibility and expertise. 

There are 5 steps to sales:

  1. Rapport: Foster engagement and trust
  2. Pain: Ask the right questions – help them identify the problem, and its impact
  3. Money: Ask their budget, set expectations
  4. Commitment: Find out who is involved in the decision
  5. Close: Go for the no – recognize when something’s the wrong fit or wrong timing, but leave the door open for future business

Sales and marketing have changed a lot, and that's great news for tech or engineering-driven companies. The majority of buyers prefer to sell themselves on a purchasein fact, 57% of their decision is made before they even contact you.

Once they do, though, 5 common traps can decrease or derail your sales:

5 Biggest Fails in Sales

1. Disinterest

If you’re an introvert like me, you might come off as disinterested or too busy, causing you to miss out on opportunities. A couple common and off-putting behaviors are easy to avoid:

  • Phones in tradeshow booths — Hard, I know, but simple. You'll meet more prospects. 
  • Slow response — Even a quick or partial response to a question will start a conversation and indicate your commitment to helping them.

2. Inconsistency

Sporadic follow-up could be stunting your business growth. To stay on your prospects’ radar, set up an email nurture plan.

  • Send an article related to their recent download or other interaction with your company
  • Ask for feedback on a recent download, webinar, etc.
  • Send your newsletter to share pertinent news, capabilities and new resources for customers

3. Waiting for the phone to ring

Even though customers like to self-educate, at some point someone needs to ask for the sale. These days it takes 8-10 touches to start a conversation with a lead, yet the average salesperson quits after 2 calls. A balance of phone and email will help you engage with prospects in the way they are most comfortable with.

4. Slow quoting

In complex sales with long lead times, slow quoting is rampantfor good reason. Many such companies site incomplete RFQ information as an issue. Quick response, even if just to ask a question about the spec, moves quoting along and keeps them engaged. Customers will sometimes go with the fastest quote, not necessarily the cheapest. 

5. Thinking about the product, not the customer

All specs and no solutions make for a disinterested prospect. If you simply highlight the fact that you make X, Y and Z, you’ll appear replaceable. Focus on generating high quality leads, improving quality management, and minimizing supply chain cost and risk for your customer.

We recently asked one engineer where he’d look for answers to an application problem. The response? “I’m under 30. I just Google it.” If you know your customers, their problems, and how they go about solving them, you’ll be better equipped to help.

 

Download our 8 Tips for Better Sales Follow-up:

Download Sales Tip Sheet

 

Topics: Optics, Business Insights