After the popularity of last year’s panel discussion at the Georgia Manufacturing Summit, this year IndustrialSage returned for another presentation: a sales and marketing Q&A!

This year’s guest speakers (aside from Danny, of course) were Sloan MacKarvich, Chief Business Development Officer of Tie Down; and Drew Carl: Director of Corporate Marketing for Superior Essex.

As we usually do (and as effective marketers ought), we started with cold, hard data.

1. THE TRUTH HURTS: MILLENNIALS RULE B2B NOW.

200 Million people are on Do-Not-Call lists. Many no longer pick up the phone at all unless they recognize the caller. Most of our audience members raised their hands when asked if they’d gotten a robo-dial in the last year– or even the last 24 hours!

How do you think that might impact your cold calling strategies?

Then there’s the big, terrifying fact…over 50% of B2B buyers are millennials now. (Keep in mind the difference between Millennials and Gen Z, though! Get Z is still almost entirely in school.)

Adults between 25 and 40 (aka: Millennials) make up over half your target market. So you’d better be making internal changes to your company in response.

Millennials are young enough to remember life before the internet and smartphones became household devices…but they were young enough to adjust easily when these new tools were introduced into their lives.

That penchant for adjustment means Millennials are highly adept at finding the most efficient route or process through which to perform any given task. They may not have the patience for the sales process of yesteryear. They’re willing to take the initiative, do their own research, educate themselves, and find the answers they’re looking for in order to make a purchase for their jobs.

That means, if you’re not providing easy access to the answers they want, then they’ll go find someone else who is.

2. PROSPECTS ARE WATCHING MORE VIDEOS THAN YOU MIGHT THINK.

Another wild statistic states that the average B2B buyer consumes at least 30 minutes of video content before making a purchasing decision.

Now, that doesn’t mean they watch one single half-hour video. And it also doesn’t mean that they only watch videos made by a single company.

But if you have little to no video content about your products or services, visitors will skip over your detailed diagrams or carefully-written text in favor of faster, visually appealing moving pictures.

Sometimes adults doing research will start finding videos about a new product or a new industry. Suddenly they’ll be so fascinated they’ll blaze through video after video until they feel they know all there is to know.

Sloan himself actually admitted that this habit can cost him hours at a time before he realizes it!

Searches and “binges” like this don’t always always intentionally begin as in-depth research. They also don’t usually end in an immediate, multi-thousand-dollar sale. But if the content is available, then curious minds will feel permission to investigate. Videos not only inform audiences, but also evoke emotions and spark feelings of a more human connection.

Again: today’s buyers don’t see any reason to go out of their way to spend their time on you. You have to go where they are. Make the interaction worth their while.

3. MAKE USE OF THE CONTENT THAT’S ALREADY RIGHT UNDER YOUR NOSE.

Another key highlight of our sales and marketing Q&A was when Drew shared some of his story about the first steps he took after coming onboard at Superior Essex.

When Drew joined the company, lots of changes were needed. He knew that even if the final buyer you face is on the older side, B2B purchases nowadays don’t usually have singular buyers. Rather, they have buying “committees.” Drew knew Superior Essex would have to stand up to the scrutiny of multiple age groups.

Another fundamental challenge he faced was a resulting (very common) question many businesses have. How do you then generate company content for those ‘committees’? Where do you get the information for longform content like white papers and case studies, or short form video clips or succinct graphics? The first big step Drew made was bringing in a content writer.

But where would the writer get all their information in order to create content? Drew actually saw an asset in their older staff. The majority of employees at the company had an average of 20 years of tenure.

There’s decades of professional industry knowledge to be gleaned from experienced engineers and sales reps. It just needs to be put to paper.

All his writer(s) needed to do was find a way to draw that information out of the employees.

Case studies, Drew found, were a particularly valuable gold mine. Nobody shies away if you ask them to talk about some of their greatest successes. Many valuable content pieces were generated by exploring stories about how Superior Essex delivered an incredibly valuable or successful solution to their clients.

Case studies help buyers relate to your existing customers, and to see value in the purchase of your product. Remember, they may have to answer to accounting for the purchases they make. So give them proof of value in your content.

Speaking of valuable content, don’t miss next week as the panel discussion continues!

Drew and Sloan and Danny aren’t done yet. Tune in next week to hear more stories from our sales and marketing Q&A about their experiences with industrial marketing– and to discover some of the surprising revelations we made.

 

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