Open ears. Closed mouth. Blank notebook.
That was our packing list for the most recent AMT Global Forecasting & Marketing Conference. We were hoping to pull out common threads among the many experts that presented. What buying trends did they see? What drivers could they identify for the coming years? What areas in manufacturing were most important to prospects? Throughout the conference, one clear and very practical motivation was emphasized over and over: productivity.
“Productivity is the only thing that sells, and it’s the only thing that will be bought.”
This quote was from a presenter discussing the machine tool market, and was echoed by many others. Manufacturing shifts faster than ever with business benefits in one country or location spiking for a period of time, plateauing, then rising in another area. We see this in the leveling of production costs between China and Mexico, and we see it in the United States as manufacturing continues to slowly but steadily strengthen. And in almost all cases, it ties directly to the above quote; those shops are not necessarily looking to buy our product or your product to stay competitive; they’re looking to buy productivity.
But is that the end of the story? After talking it over with others in the manufacturing space, No. As business-to-business companies, we sometimes forget that people – not “companies” - make the buying decisions. People respond to emotions and the most successful people are driven by a deep passion for their work.
What does this mean?
Productivity is the framework. Accelerating a prospect’s productivity is the business value you’re offering. It’s also one that is easily commoditized as both you and your competitors undoubtedly show the hard-and-fast gains a company can make with your product. It’s the “entry fee” to being considered as a prime candidate, and it provides a solid logical reason why the prospect should be comfortable in choosing you.
Passion is the spark. Appealing to a professional’s passion can help show them why your product can turn that productivity into something that excites them. We work in an industry with a tremendous amount of well-earned pride. Every machinist, shop owner, tiered supplier and OEM will point to the things they’ve made and explain the expertise and craftsmanship it took to make it a reality. The CEB Marketing Council noted in a 2013 study that personal value can be almost twice as powerful as business value in a B2B purchase. If we can show our prospects how the productivity we offer will help satisfy the passion they feel, we’ll help make the purchase decision much easier.
So how do we do it? Recognize what your customers value as points of passion in their work. Blend a whitepaper on saved costs or higher output with a customer quote on what they’ve done with it or a success they’ve had with it. Connect them to your customer network so they can see firsthand how others make use of the practical tools you provide in a way they invest with pride. Spotlight and celebrate your existing users’ achievements to help build your community and boost positive word of mouth.
And be passionate about selling your own productivity.