Reading through the findings of two recent reports in the manufacturing sector, one word kept jumping out at me: confidence.
Though the reports themselves made interesting reading, it was evident from the narrative that the biggest challenge for manufacturing companies in the years ahead is going to be restoring confidence. That can take many forms – confidence in the future, in sales forecasts, in the recruitment process and in sales and marketing abilities were just a few that reared their head.
Though there was a good deal of optimism for the future within the reports, it was tempered with uncertainty. The Crowe Report on Manufacturing Outlook flagged the increasing importance of effective sales and marketing activity, particularly in a more competitive domestic and commercial marketplace. A large portion of the manufacturing community were not happy with their sales and marketing activity. Whilst 96 per cent of manufacturers had a sales and marketing team, less than half (44 per cent) saw that team’s effectiveness as being over 70 per cent.
As a key driver of the business, that has to be a concern, particularly at a time when mobility and networking has been difficult. So the reason why this is a problem bears some consideration. Is it because their sales and marketing departments find themselves with a mish-mash of different material and there is therefore no consistency? Or perhaps the team who have the material are changing and adapting it to their own needs and the message gets confused or lost. And do they really have the tools to demonstrate their expertise quickly and clearly to customers?
If that’s the case, then it needs addressing, particularly if we are to bolster confidence for the future. This is borne out further when we look at the headline of The Manufacturer’s survey on marketing trends for 2021. More than two thirds of businesses described marketing as a high priority, and 86 per cent believed their marketing budget would stay the same or increase.
So if more needs to be spent to spark growth, and we need to rebuild confidence, how might we do things differently? The whole issue is one we have long been thinking about at Stilo Touch. In driving growth, we all need to be flexible and agile, but we also need to give sales teams the tools that are right for our times. And those times have changed. With more of us operating remotely and people wanting to interact rather than sitting through an hour’s dull PowerPoint presentation, sales people can tangibly benefit from being able to react quickly to a precise and detailed question, or to be able to steer a conversation towards the right result by having instant access to a wealth of data.
My belief is that interactive digital sales tools, dynamic presentations and the ability to dip into a mine of information and media via a digital hub can help transform the way we sell and market our services, and will help us all embrace a new way of doing things.
And who knows, we might even be able to do so with confidence.