By Liz Stevens, writer, The American Mold Builder
During an AMBA sales and marketing strategies virtual roundtable conducted August 9, 2023, member companies and affiliates shared experiences, proven tactics and suggestions on a handful of important marketing and sales topics. Whether the issue was eliciting crucial feedback from customers and prospective customers, or how to drum up new sales opportunities, the roundtable participants were generous in offering solid advice to their peer mold builders. Here are a few of the topics covered and the suggestions shared.
Attract sales on a shoestring budget via the company website
For any moldmaker with a web presence, the company’s website can be put to work as a silent salesperson, often at minimal cost. Roundtable participants suggested three smart ways to attract the attention of more customers.
First, include a contact form on the website so that prospective customers easily can ping the company for a callback. Another winning way to let a website draw interested parties is to feature a blog with regularly refreshed content that is of value to potential clients. A third suggestion, for moldmakers with an international clientele, is to add a language translator to the company website so that foreign visitors can understand what the company offers as described in its own language.
Drum up sales the old-fashioned way: cold calling in the modern world
The days of traveling salespeople doggedly knocking on strange doors in strange cities are in the past, especially post-pandemic and in light of today’s communications technology. The roundtable members had suggestions regarding choosing locations for cold calling, qualifying the list of companies to approach, taking the chill off cold calls with some pre-call “warming,” and including a freebie in cold call drop-off packets.
The roundtable offered several ideas for choosing a location for cold calling. The quickest, easiest and cheapest cold calls take place locally, especially in areas where prospects might be concentrated such as industrial parks. Another time- and money-saving option is to plan a cold call blitz as an add-on when paying a visit to an existing customer in another locale. Do research to find a handful of prospects in a radius around the existing customer’s site and make the rounds before or after visiting the customer.
Another way to piggyback cold calling onto another activity is to use cold calls to make new contacts at industry events and tradeshows. The initial contact available in the booth at an event or show might be a salesperson, but those folks generally are happy to answer initial questions about a business and suggest the most appropriate person at their company for further contact.
Narrowing down the list of companies to approach cold makes the calls much more likely to be fruitful. The roundtable participants suggested characterizing how one’s company stands out as exemplary in the industry or what one’s company has to offer that is most valuable to clients; with that info in mind, one can scan for prospective companies that are simpatico with their own standout qualities and closely held values.
To take the chill off cold calls, take a pre-call step or two to warm things up. If one launches cold email campaigns, tracking the engagement rate of the campaigns can point to the recipients whose engagement indicates that they already are intrigued and open to learning more.
Get more sales during a business slowdown
Every mold builder has seasonal slowdowns or unexpected idle stretches. Some of them fill the gaps with peripheral services and expertise, such as making spare parts or producing components for inventory. It’s also good to be diversified, especially with some low-stress work that can be the occasional welcome change for the production team. Some moldmakers use the lag time to finetune their “ideal target list” of prospects and then focus on cultivating the top ten.
The roundtable participants also suggested using a slow spell to reach out to the company’s top 10 customers – the ones that truly value the company’s best qualities – and ask for a little more of their business. During pitches to the top 10, be sure to reiterate how the customer benefits from the mold builder’s strengths, whether that means saving money, saving time or having complete confidence to hand over a complicated, squirrelly job.
Now that sales are on the books, deal with labor costs in a rollercoaster market
The moldmakers in the roundtable all lamented the tight labor market and the wildly fluctuating costs of doing business with labor costs that only seem to rise, and rise, and then rise some more. The best advice offered by the roundtable was to institute a variable pay program for everyone in the company, built on the premise that if the company is extra profitable, the team receives a quarterly bonus. If, on the other hand, spiking costs cut into the company’s profits, the team gets its regular pay but not the quarterly bonus.
One of the roundtable moldmakers noted that the bonus-tied-to-profitability scenario helped everyone on the team understand the bottom line in business. It even spurred employees to take the initiative and volunteer to work additional hours when the situation required it, in order to keep the company profitable.
More information: www.amba.org/members/archived-webinars/ or www.amba.org/events/