Most OEM’s and dealers focus the majority of their marketing energy on traffic generation. The question most ask and address is “how much traffic do we get to our website”, per month, year and associated trends.
A different set of questions should be:
- How many different and consistent sources of traffic do you have?
- How much traffic do you get from each source per month?
- How qualified is each source of traffic measured by sales and/or leads?
The main takeaway from this set of questions is how to address the diversification and quality of traffic you are generating, not total volume numbers, like time on site, or overall visitors. If you don’t diversify your traffic sources, and Google makes a change to their algorithm, your plan might be cooked overnight.
The rule is quality over quantity. Always test new traffic sources and conversion optimization in your sales funnel to know truly what works and delivers a solid return on investment.
2. Lead Capture
How you capture information and follow up on inquires is critical to any online campaign. The most common way to capture traffic is with a creative headline that addresses a pain or emotion the customer or prospect has, and give them something for free to make that pain go away.
Common items are downloads, safety checklists, something to save money or time, but always with a low risk offer they feel worth trying, so they give you their contact information in exchange for what you are offering.
The first question any OEM or dealer can ask is whether you have an understanding of this process, and do you have an offer of value you can promote. If you don’t have this, you need to set this up asap, or the prospects won’t you their contact information and permission to follow up via email for continue promotions.
For any lead capture program, the three questions to ask are:
- How many lead capture mechanisms do you have for each product or service?
- What is your opt-in rate for each lead capture?
- What is your sales conversion rate for each lead capture?
The first question addresses the opportunity to capture leads for every product or service you offer. I most cases, you need several offers and processes for different types of prospects for what you sell and service. Examples of what prospects like to see range from case studies, checklists and “how to” guides to avoid costly or common mistakes.
The two other questions in this set are really just KPI related questions to measure effectiveness. The goal should ALWAYS be how to double sales without increasing traffic by measuring these critical indicators.
3. Prospect Follow-up
The buying cycles in the equipment industry are often long and painful. The prospect educates themselves, routes information to others, gets input, gets a quote, waits some more, and some more and… well it just happens this way.
Studies across multiple industries show about 50% of leads will buy within 18 months and 85% of those buyers will make the purchase 3 – 18 months after expressing initial interest. Doesn’t matter what product it is, it’s a universal truth that needs to be addressed, so you stay on the radar of the prospect.
The same study and statistics show if you don’t have a consistent follow-up system in place, you’re missing out on at least 42% of your potential sales. Setting up and optimizing your follow system is not only critical, it’s surprisingly easy! And this helps immediately by leveraging leads with no additional cost.
To optimize your follow up system, ask these questions:
- What is your prospect sales conversion rate after opting into your lead capture?
- What is the average length of time on your prospect list before purchasing?
- What is the average purchase price and associated gross profit?
More often than not, clients I work with don’t understand the full lifetime value of creating new customers. What do you have to invest to create a customer that spends $X per year, on average, at %X of gross profit by product or service, over a time horizon of 2, 3, 5 years or longer in many cases.
This is all critical in evaluating the “cost per lead” and “value per lead”. I have a matrix and worksheet I use with clients that helps us plug in different scenarios to gauge investment against outcomes. A positive return on investment pretty easy to obtain, with good strategy and implementation of it!
OEM’s love production throughput at the factories, followed by distribution to dealers, and the resulting sales and margins that come from each whole good sale. But upon evaluation of many client “systems” over the years, many fail to create a system to test and optimize the sales process.
Investments are made in online and offline promotional efforts, trade shows, literature, but scant little attention is paid to a process that tracks the process from the first phone call to the closing call. Sales calls can and should be scripted, tested, and edited to optimize conversion rates. This is an area where you can double your business without any increase in traffic or investment.
So the questions you should ask are:
- What is your scripted sales process for each type of lead who contacts you?
- What is your conversion rate by lead source?
- What is your average sales cycle?
- Where is this information being recorded?
- How easy is it to record this information into a CRM system?
Once you have your sales script and you’re measuring your conversion rates and sales cycles, then you systematically test to make improvements each month.
5. Product/Service Delivery
The sale is really just the beginning in your customer lifecycle. Now it’s aftermarket time to sell high margin items and create long term customers and lifetime customer value.
Creating memorable customer experiences in the equipment industry isn’t generally at the top of our priority list, but it’s an easy system to install and manage.
At this stage of your marketing evaluation, ask the following three questions:
- What is your system to WOW your customers?
- What is your system to get testimonials?
- What is your system to develop “before and after” case studies?
Addressing question #1 is a thought provoking and often a resource challenging question. What SHOULD our system look like? What will it cost? Who is going to do this stuff? Is it effective and sustainable? In another post, I address the importance of questions 2 and 3, but they are critical to
Investments like these are important to make. Referral marketing is still alive and well, and creating customer champions that tell others is still one of the best ways to grow your business but there must be a “system” installed for predictive success.
6. Upsells & Cross Sells
McDonalds built an entire business around a hamburger people knew to be of great, consistent quality and asking “would you like some fries and a coke to go with that burger”. The same mentality applies to most industries that have complimentary products and services.
Upsells and cross sells are one of the fastest and easiest ways to increase the lifetime value of your customers. Aftermarket products and services typically are high margin, yet many times are an afterthought in the minds of the sales staff and online marketing plan.
Love them or hate them, sales reps are inconsistent with what they prioritize during their day. If the deal isn’t huge, or not talked about on the golf course, they forget about it. You have the opportunity to eliminate lead leakage at every touch point if you have an online and offline process to remind sales staff, customers and prospects about all that you sell practically automatically with the right system.
Ask yourself these simple questions about other opportunities:
- In order of priority, what high margin, high opportunity products or services can you provide to remind sales staff, customers and prospects of what you should be selling more of?
- What is your “recommendation engine” process to make these products visible and remind the people during ANY interaction automatically at every possible touch point?
- What is the average annual value of potential customer purchases compared to your best customers, to compare the upside potential of underperforming customers?
Investing in a repeatable, recommendation process is the fastest path to exceptional profitability. From the sales staff and technicians carrying Pendaflex files labeled by product or service special, to Amazon style online recommendation tools, the options are numerous and easy to install with the right plan and focus.
Referrals in the equipment business are a big part of what we do depending on the industry sector and product type and we have to combine this with online referral and survey tools to make the most of a campaign to leverage current customers and, hopefully, happy users of your equipment!
And, most OEM’s and dealers have some kind of system, but it’s typically sporadically used and managed, so inconsistency sets in and opportunities are lost.
Ask these four questions of your sales and operations team:
- What is the system for requesting referrals?
- What is the value of a referral?
- What is the referral commission or rewards program?
- What are the emotional drivers of referring partners? In other words, what would motivate them to participate in the first place?
I hope this summary of 24 questions to ask of your marketing or internal teams is helpful. If you’d like a free self-assessment template, just ask. We’re happy to help
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