Tips for manufacturers to grow client base
My company provides mechanical designs and manufacturers and supplies products to a few companies in both the US and Europe. How do I increase my customers?
This is a typical “opening” question that I get asked when starting a new engagement with clients. B2B marketing needs to be closely integrated with the new business and new client acquisition process to be effective.
For a public question and answer, I gave some straightforward answers. The detail of how to apply these, is where my expertise will help you get it right first time.
Step one for B2B sales
- Ask your existing client/s for referrals. If they were happy with the work that you did, they should be happy to help. If you feel the need, offer them a X%/$X discount on the next project for every client they refer. This is ‘win-win-win’ situation because you get more clients, they get a discount, and they use your services again.
- Ask your existing clients for a written recommendation & permission to use their logo on your website. Publish them both on your website. This will help increase the conversion rate on your website. If you feel the need, you can offer them a link to their website which will be good for both of your SEO rankings – so another win-win.
- Publish as much (relevant and quality) content as possible on your website (about the projects you’ve done, potential projects, your fields of expertise, etc. Obviously, you need to have a professional and trustworthy looking website. I can explain how the articles need to be done.
- Create a free ‘get a quote tool’ – many customers check online to get an estimate of how much the project will cost. If you have an automatic online tool, this can attract a lot of customers. I have personally used such a tool and I was very impressed.
- Partner with organisations/companies that work with your target clients – for example: I work with lots of entrepreneurs and many of them ask me for referrals to various types of service providers, including programming companies. These companies give me a small percentage of the profits they make from my referrals (of course I only refer to companies which I know and trust as my reputation is worth more than the referral fee).
Step 2 tactics for more sophisticated marketers
In Europe, there are a number of partnership sites for B2B. You could use these sites to post your offer or search for other offers and hopefully make a match.
Another approach is considering hiring local distributors who specialise in your industry. The advantage here is local distributors will already have a strong network to promote your products/services. Furthermore, local distributors would have thorough understanding of the local market, language, and business culture to close deals.
Go talk to your current customers. Ask them why they do business with you. They may, and most likely will, tell you something different than you’re saying to new prospects. Listen to what your current customers are saying and use their messaging to talk to the market. Ask them if they know other companies that could use what you have,
Go and join the professional trade bodies who represent the industries for your existing clients. Ask your existing clients what these are. Once you are a member, you will be able to see a membership list of other organisations who are also members
Plan outbound marketing to approach these companies and see if they want to also work with you.
Consider visiting the annual conferences and trade shows which these professional bodies run because you will then meet in person with prospects. Many people find it easier to sell their expertise face to face. You could consider doing a trade show stand as well where you can display your past work and the logos of your clients. This builds trust and can start discussions.,
B2B sales and marketing work together
In summary – you need to learn the process of B2B new business, you need a strategy for your new business development and then you need a regular tactical execution process to deliver the new business programme.
You may choose to hire an external advisor to help write the strategy, you could get an in-house salesperson to deliver the tactical execution as well, depending on the size of your contracts and how many you need to get in order to pay for their salary plus commission to make it worthwhile for the business.
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