It’s the start of a new year, which hopefully means you’ve been hard at work planning your next moves to grow sales and profits in the upcoming months.
There’s probably a lot of objectives you’re looking to fill—and I’m sure that growing revenue and profits is one of them. For manufacturers of heavy equipment and machinery, making the initial equipment sale should be just the beginning of providing continuing support and growing profits.
Here are 3 aftermarket strategies to make 2018 your best sales year ever.
Cut Costs on Shipping and Returns
One operational area commonly overlooked is the number of returned orders and the cost to make corrections for customers. Sometimes, returns are caused by things out of anyone’s control. But other times, it’s a mistake on the company’s part—like the buyer received the wrong item or the item doesn’t match the description or image on the seller’s website.
How can you fix this? By fixing the product data that your dealers, service techs and product owners are using. Deploy a modern parts management solution that uses a centralized database to maintain part information. With a database, part numbers are more easily kept up-to-date, and part descriptions are consistent across all a company’s documentation. Correct information=correct orders.
Increase Your Online Market Share
Think of the last thing you bought and how you purchased it. Was it like this?
“Well, I pulled out an old catalog from several years ago, searched through it, found the thing I needed, wrote down the serial number, then called customer service, but I had to leave a message, then I had to wait until they called me back. When we finally connected, I told customer service what I wanted to order, then waited for them to get me a quote. But I placed my order in under a week!”
Or was it closer to this?
“I went online, searched for what I was looking for, put it in my shopping cart, and clicked purchase.”
Online shopping used to be thought of as only something that companies selling directly to consumers needed to factor in. However, the digital economy has so deeply permeated our behaviors that this isn’t limited just to B2C customers anymore. Things are starting to change for B2B commerce too, and companies that are smart enough to get on board will be the ones to reap the most successes.
Your spare parts market share is being eaten up by your competitors who show up first in Google search results and offer online parts sales.
How can you compete? Remember, you have an inherent advantage with your intellectual property ownership. Utilize it with a web-based catalog that offers shopping carts, video and robust search capabilities. Create a highly interactive user interface to display catalogs and other support documentation. With the right digital marketing, you can open a world of possibilities to attract and retain online buyers.
Give Your Customers What They Want, and Maximize Your Sales Team’s Time
Salespeople spend a great deal of time tending to administrative tasks and problem solving (64% on nonsales tasks, and 25% on administrative duties, per Salesforce Research). Even when selling, internal sales teams are investing too many hours responding to phone and email requests.
As mentioned earlier, buyer behaviors are changing, and more people are looking to get their product information and make their purchases online.
A recent study showed that:
- 93% of B2B customers prefer to buy online when they’ve decided what to buy.
- 74% feel buying from a website is more convenient than buying from a sales representative.
- 56% expect to make half or more of their work purchases online this year.
- Customers that must speak to a sales rep to make a purchase are 4x as likely to go somewhere else the next time they need to buy something.
The future lies in maximizing self-service, while also providing human support and intervention as an option for the customers who want it. Customers who want to do their own research and make buying decisions without picking up the phone can do so, while those who need some extra help can easily reach a sales rep to talk.
A bonus to introducing an online component to your sales strategy is that it frees up your sales team from some of that data entry and other menial tasks, so they can spend more time developing relationships and fulfilling customer needs.
In the past, it was difficult to satisfy both audiences without overspending, but technology makes it possible to meet the demands of multiple audiences.
Want to learn more? Download the full guide!