Sales and marketing Why it is important to integrate sales in your process
One of the great pains in the tool, pattern and mould making industry is the great dependence on individual sectors and very few customers. Companies that want to be more flexible have to pay more attention to sales and position themselves professionally there.
In the past, sales was almost superfluous in the mould making industry. The order books were full for decades and companies didn’t have to deal with acquisition at all. Business was good, driven for the most part by loyal existing customers.
Now, the market situation is more dynamic than ever. Tool, pattern and mould making companies suffer not least from the high turnover in the purchasing departments of their business partners. In order to get an order, they have to reposition themselves again and again. This is tedious and above all one thing for the industry — unfamiliar. This is where a change in thinking is required for Benedikt Ruf. He was in charge of the analysis field of marketing and sales for the voluntary benchmark initiative Marktspiegel Werkzeugbau until April 2022. In his eyes, sales is often not yet established in the industry because many managing directors have not yet fully recognised the necessity of continuous market proximity to secure the future of their companies. “If you are only in the company and not close to the market, you will not be able to do sales," the expert is certain. "Entrepreneurs have to show that they are open for orders. To do this, they have to present themselves and actively ensure visibility.”
Networks with decision-makers
Ruf is the serial founder and managing director of the used machinery platform Gindumac. What makes sales stand out for him is having a smart understanding of what the market needs right now, who decides, in what form decisions are made and how this can be used to achieve business goals. “If you don't have connections to decision-makers, you usually don't get the opportunity to bid for anything at all,” Ruf explains. Furthermore, sales trains how the company can be competitive in a bid placement — in terms of price, delivery times, quality, innovation and technology.
In theory, a professionally positioned sales force is an important driver for successful companies. But how can this be translated into practical action?
Active sales can only work if there is clear sales planning, aligned with the company's current turnover and business situation.
Sales via social media is often still underestimated
Entrepreneurs who do not yet use these social media platforms as a sales channel are wasting valuable potential. Ruf is convinced of this. “Social media is an excellent option for cultivating existing customers and acquiring new ones, since high reach is already possible in free use,” the expert says. “The more visibly you appear in professional networks, the more potential clients can take notice of you. You have to be aware of that.”
Entrepreneurs should therefore consider how to make the service portfolio visible by means of company profile, posts and content. Networking is the be-all and end-all for sales success. You can be brave and proactively write to potential new customers or maintain contact with existing customers. Commenting and liking are often underestimated, although they also help to gain presence in the target group.
No hasty decisions
As a rule, any activity that contributes to new customer business is good per se. Nevertheless, entrepreneurs should not be driven by haphazard actionism. If a bad market situation leads to hasty investments in sales, the planning basis and target definition in line with the strategic corporate goals are usually lacking. Hasty actionism is no help at this point. Those who suddenly run out of orders and make acquisitions out of necessity tend to lose sight of the overriding focus on the company's development. This must be avoided. The goal should always be to keep the fridge full as long as one is not hungry.
A sales goal could be, for example: Winning five new customers from the medical technology sector. Sales planning should determine how a company can achieve this goal. There are many questions to be answered in advance:
- 1. in what period of time is the goal to be achieved?
- 2. which personnel should be employed to achieve this?
- 3. what measures are necessary?
- 4. how do I get access to the data pool in order to approach the contacts via cold calls or field sales?
“Active sales can only work if there is clear sales planning, aligned with the company's current turnover and business situation,” Ruf explains. “I therefore advise every entrepreneur to put sales on the strategic agenda.” So those who first think about where they want to go, which activities make strategic sense and how they can be organised over the year are well advised. Only then, according to the expert, should one free up or build up resources for this and invest in cold calling. “It is important to get directly to the implementation level with well thought-out planning. Fast and targeted action is required. Define a clear goal, define measures and just do it,” Ruf adds.
Establish sales controlling as an impact monitoring tool
Sales controlling — i.e. downstream performance reviews — is just as important as planning when it comes to sales activities.
Times have changed. If you want to secure orders, you have to work actively on them. There is no alternative to sales. That is precisely why it should be integrated into the process chain as a natural component. “Entrepreneurs can no longer afford to lie back,” Ruf sums up. "What counts is the process of continuous market cultivation. And this must not be perceived as strenuous. It must appear natural and be lived by companies. As if it were for them, like the air they breathe.”
What Ruf appreciates so much about the entrepreneurs from tool, model and mould making is the great passion with which they pursue their work. He explains: “I would like to see the entrepreneurs in this industry succeed in transferring this passion into sales measures and outward communication. Because that will be the easiest, most natural and most successful sales tool at their disposal.”