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A Conversation In Manufacturing: Part 1

By Chris Peer, on April 21, 2015

Home > Learning Center > A Conversation In Manufacturing: Part 1

Last week I was talking with the Vice President of Sales at a manufacturing company about his challenges in geographic expansion and new business revenue growth. It was a conversation I am deeply familiar with as I talk to dozens if not hundreds of manufacturing leaders each year. Many of these conversations share the same threads of vision, desire and skepticism. But before I tell you about this conversation, a little background information is required. 

My name is Chris Peer and I own a digital marketing and sales improvement firm that specializes in helping manufacturers. This particular day, I was going to meet with Jack, the Vice President of Sales at a chemical manufacturing company, ABC Chemicals (not the real name of the president or the company). ABC Chemicals is located in the Midwest and drives approximately $120 million in annual revenue. Jack was referred to me by one of my other manufacturing clients.  

I drive down the industrial parkway and see the ABC Chemicals logo on the sign out front. It’s a large building and looks similar to the other large buildings on this stretch of road. I pull into the visitor space in the parking lot right in front of the double glass doors leading to the corporate offices. I enter, sign-in and the receptionist lets Jack know I am there. A few minutes later I am escorted to the conference room and offered coffee or water. I take the coffee and wait for Jack. Promptly at 4pm, our scheduled meeting time, Jack walks in. After some pleasantries, this is how the conversation goes:

Chris, thanks for coming in. At ABC Chemical we are looking for 10% growth this year and we are interested in learning more about how you can help us. I have heard about inbound marketing and how the Internet can help drive sales leads, but we have not had any success in the past. I am skeptical about spending more money on digital marketing, but many of my peers are claiming that they have experienced significant growth. I need to minimize risk. We cannot afford to implement a costly campaign and not be able to prove value. 

Thanks Jack. I have heard this challenge many times before. Let’s start by allowing me to learn more about your business. Specifically what are your growth challenges? Do you sell through distribution? Sales Reps? Both?

We have been in business for 60 years. I became Vice President of Sales about 6 years ago after the current President took over the business from his father, who founded the business. He is still on the Board but is not as involved as he used to be. This year we are looking to increase our geographic footprint and gain market share. Currently we dominate our market within a 200-mile radius of our office, but outside of that we have little-to-none name recognition.

Our primary challenges are lead generation and brand awareness. Our three sales reps have been with the company for over 30 years and, while they have been instrumental in getting us to where we are, they are looking to retire soon and their network is not bringing in any new business opportunities. We have a handful of distribution partners but we are not exclusive with them and they are not as effective as they used to be.

Additionally, we built a new website two years ago and about three people contact us per month. Many of these contacts are vendors or people trying to sell us something. Every once in a while we get a valid lead, so I know the Internet works, but it’s not been a good investment.

How are you managing your sales pipeline and where do these three salespeople live? Are they local or working out of territories?

One of our sales reps is here in the local office. The other two work out of their homes in the corners of our existing 200-mile market radius: one up north and the other is south. Regarding our sales pipeline, I really don’t know. I suspect they work off of their email database or a spreadsheet, but they have been so good at hitting their sales goals it has never been a metric we have tracked. Over the past five years their numbers have been declining but it’s hard to get them to adopt new sales practices and technologies. We looked at SalesForce about three years ago and nobody used it. It was too time consuming. CRM just does not work for us. My sales guys know all the players in the region and they have personal relationships with all of them. Asking them to enter meeting data and opportunity numbers into SalesForce was taking up too much of their time.

I completely understand, but you mentioned that some of these salespeople are retiring. Can you tell me more about your plans to penetrate these new markets and hit your 10% sales growth goal?

We are aggressively looking for a salesperson right now. Ideally, we are looking for a go-getter that can crank out cold calls and bring some energy to the team. That is why you are here. I need someone to generate leads and help us with our sales and marketing systems. We have never invested in marketing, but we need to get the word out as traditional channels are drying up.

The problem is that salespeople typically take months to generate a pipeline and it could be up to a year to determine if the salesperson is capable. We don’t have that much time. I need results this year and the metrics to back it up.

Thanks Jack. I think we can help you, but first let me ask you a number of questions to see if engaging with SyncShow is a fit for both of us. I want to make sure that before we do any work or charge you a single dollar that there is a high probability that you will experience a high return on investment. The answers to these questions may take some research on your part, but all-in-all it should not take you more than 15 minutes to get the answers. Is that something you would be interested in doing?


Great, let me put my thoughts together and evaluate your current digital marketing and sales presence. In the meantime, I will email you the 10 questions. Once you answer them, I can run them through our ROI calculator and we can dive deeper into the numbers. Sound like a plan? 

That sounds great. I look forward to hearing back from you Chris. 

For more information about the ROI of online marketing, check out: How to Measure the ROI of Social Media


Chris Peer
Posted by
Chris Peer on Tue, Apr 21, 2015 @ 10:30
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