Are you highlighting your most in-demand product?
In today's complex market, it might not be enough to simply sell the things you make. There are other revenue streams open to manufacturers and other more traditional industries - in a word, services. Your company may already be offering maintenance and/or installation/startup support to your customers - but focusing on your marketing efforts on highlighting such value-add services could give you a major competitive advantage.
The Shift Toward Services
There are three major trends driving the shift towards "productizing" services:
The labor market, particularly for skilled workers (including factory operations and maintenance), is tight - and only getting tighter as experienced employees retire.
Manufacturing plants are running at maximum capacity, around the clock, leading to increased demand for upkeep and preventive maintenance to maximize uptime. According to research we did for one of our clients in the conveyor belt industry, manufacturers are finding demand difficult to meet, even in (and in part because of) a world with tight supply chains.
As software companies have shown us, there's an obvious revenue benefit to selling recurring subscriptions/access to a product or support rather than just selling the product once. But in the industrial world, that "access" can be to in-demand expertise or in-person support for the product you're selling - and your commitment to providing that service can be a huge competitive advantage.
Tips to Sell-In Services
A few tips for selling service offerings more effectively:
Selling a physical product can be fairly simple - either your clients need it, or they don't. Services can be more discretionary, bought because they're a better alternative to the way things are done now. Handling product maintenance in-house, for example, might cost more in salary and benefits/overhead, and they might not be available on-call. Think about the direct benefit to your target audience; it might not be as obvious as the benefits your product has.
Not everyone is a great conceptual thinker, and you can't bring a service into a purchasing manager or COO's office and let them hold it in their hands. So consider: how can you make it real? Sometimes it's as easy as showing them calculations of cost savings. In each case, think about the best ways to bring service to life in an impactful way.
Services, by their ongoing nature, tend to be less transactional and more relationship-driven. Your customer needs to trust you and be willing to see you or your representatives every so often - in short, they need to like you and your brand. People buy from people they like.
Your target audience for a maintenance or service contract may be different than the audience for your product - in fact, you might need to talk to stakeholders from different departments, either at the corporate level or the factory level. Make sure you know what's motivating each person involved.
It's Time to Highlight Your Service Offerings
Even if you primarily sell products, today's market makes it an ideal time to begin spotlighting the services around those products; as a marketer, you have the opportunity to identify and promote a valuable way to address a pressing customer need. And in doing so, you may be able to turn a service into a higher-value revenue stream.
That conveyor belt client we mentioned earlier? They've repositioned themselves as more than a vendor of products - they pride themselves on their expertise, and their installation and maintenance services have become a standalone business line for them. The appeal of such an offering is high, and demand continues to grow.