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The Manufacturer Perspective on Generating Quality Sales Leads

Posted by IndustrySelect on Monday, August 16, 2021


Finding quality leads in a sector as niche as manufacturing can be a real challenge. On Thursday, August 12th, MNI hosted the weekly Tweetchat #USAMfgHour, and dedicated the hour to discussing the challenges of generating quality leads in manufacturing. The #USAMfgHour tweetchat was especially revealing, with manufacturers sharing a bounty of insights on data decay, the pandemic’s impact on lead generation, lead qualification, top lead generation resources, the pros and cons of lists, and more. Today, we’re sharing some of these insightful comments from manufacturers on lead generation in their niche.

But First, What is #USAMfgHour?

#USAMfgHour is a one-hour live tweet event for manufacturers and those who support them, and is a dedicated space for professionals in the industry to talk about the issues most impacting manufacturers, to network and connect and to share insights on the most pressing topics of the day. #USAMfgHour is hosted by a new company each week with a dedicated topic  The event is held every Thursday on Twitter from 1-2 CST and is accessible by searching the #USAMfgHour hashtag on Twitter.

Manufacturer Insights on Generating Leads

MNI: What are some of the challenges you have faced in finding high-quality leads in manufacturing for your salespeople?

Nick Rivers from Rockford, IL-based Obsidian Manufacturing said “One of the challenges in a quality lead is the changeover in the contact at the company you are trying to engage” Sue Norman, also from Obsidian Manufacturing also weighed in. “One of our biggest struggles was the pandemic. We were trying to get out more & meet new leads face to face & then had to abruptly stop. That challenged us to pivot & find new avenues.”

“Where to find them, and no replies,” said Shannon Simpson of DuraTech Industries in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

We have a lot of clients come to us because they’ve been working with outdated info. A lot of frustration with “data decay”- a subject we explored earlier in the year with this infographic: What Bad Data Costs and Why Good Data Matters.

Another challenge we often hear from clients is finding the right buyer for their specific type of product. This was reflected in many of the comments from manufacturers at the chat like Kelley Pernicone of North American Coating Laboratories in Mentor, Ohio. “Being super-niche! I can't stress enough how small markets get, even when you serve a multitude of industries. ”

Said Chase Bodor, “I think one of the challenges is finding that ideal customer. You can accumulate a ton of leads (inbound or out), but do those prospects fit your company’s goals?”

Ben Nordman of Obsidian Manufacturing echoed this trend. “I would say as a marketer, finding the decision-makers at the companies in our target market. Oftentimes, we find other marketing people for companies, who are typically not working with our actual products in their places of employment.”

MNI: How much time do you have to generally spend pre-qualifying leads?

Said Dan Bigger, Business Development Manager for Custom Profile and co-Founder of #USAMfgHour, “All day every day. That is my main function.”

“True story... when my previous employer invested in a new leads database, my contact ratio DOUBLED OVERNIGHT on day 1! Appointments TRIPLED... DAILY from there on out! (this is the #1 reason I do what I do!),” said Kati McDermith, MNI's Brand Ambassador.

MNI: What are your 3 top resources for finding leads in your niche?

USAMfgHour participants talked about everything from content marketing, social media, purchased lists, email marketing and referrals.

“I don’t do a lot with marketing - but I try to find leads by looking at who our current customers are doing business with. Then using LinkedIn to find customers like our current customers,” said Dave Rivers.

This is a highly effective tactic, and an idea MNI has built on with its Customer Match feature that helps clients find new prospects based on their best customers.

MNI: What sort of information do you wish you had on your prospects in manufacturing?

Among the many responses to this question, obtaining the correct contact information, especially of key decision was a top concern. Said Sue Nordman “Contact name and email with buying power and decision making abilities!..We all can relate to the frustration of wading through a pool of information to get to the right person with the ability to purchase.”

Nigel T Packer, a UK-based customer experience consultant, responded with a more old-fashioned technique of obtaining decision-maker info: “Sue, when I was out on the road I would stop by manufacturers and speak to the receptionist. I would take in some cake, ask the right person to speak to. They know everything. I would then go out to the car park and phone the target for a meeting.”

Duratech Industries spoke of “Buying cycle time frame. Needs. Issues,” while Nick Rivers said “I want to know who they have worked with in the past and their spending habits. What’s important to them? USA? Warranty? Customer Service? Price? Lead time? Maintenance? That kind of info.”

Chase Bodor offered this insight: “I wish I was in the room when our prospects were evaluating their shortlist. Who were the top 3? Why? What did the decision come down to? Sometimes marketing is about being the fly on the wall rather than the hair in the pasta.”

With more work being done remotely, how have your communications with potential clients changed?

Warehouse automation and shipping solutions provider DCSC, Inc., said “MANY, more phone calls, emails, web-meetings and better content on our web.”

“I think our emails have more potential then ever before,” said Sue Nordman. “We’ve worked hard to ramp up the quality of the content and the frequency.”

MNI: Do you purchase lists? If so, what are the main downsides and benefits to using lists?

This question drew many responses, with most underscoring the importance of working with a trusted data provider.

Said Dave Meyer. “Lists are almost always terrible. Tons of gotchas; known spam addresses (so-called “honeypot” addresses) will automatically flag a list as spam and may get you banned from your email platform.”

“GDPR is a big issue here when buying lists,” said Nigel Packer. “Too many of the data sets are out of date…”

And DCSC said “Honestly we did in the past and it (what’s the professional word for sucked?) Good, accurate, current data is worth its weight in gold.”

Kati McDermith, long-time lead generator who came to work for MNI after using IndustrySelect in her day-to-day efforts said, “I have used many. All of them were the worst. IndustrySelect was a game changer for me. Literally changed the course of my life completely. Queue the voice of the angels.”

Want to see how IndustrySelect works? Click here to try a free demo.

For more comments and recaps on this topic, search the #USAMfgHour hashtag on Twitter or see this post from Graphic Products. Contact @DCSCinc, @DanBiggerUSAMfg, or @SocialSMktg if you are interested in hosting an event. We hope you will join us at the next #USAMfgHour, every Thursday from 1-2 CST on Twitter! 

Subscribe to the IndustrySelect Insider for weekly updates on the event.

Further Reading: Top Manufacturing Twitter Accounts to Follow


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