Preparing building materials marketers and manufacturers to win in the online sales space is the pathway to significant business growth.
Digital marketing and lead generation is the key to your building materials business’s next big breakthrough. Reaching that breakthrough takes elevating your company’s collaboration skills as well as your employee’s digital marketing skills. And with the right tools, insights and guidance, you and your sales team can hit the ground running with new approaches and tactics.
To help point you in the right direction, we’ve created a comprehensive guide to training your sales team in generating and nurturing digital leads alongside your marketing team so that you can create a whole new horizon of opportunity for your business.
Understanding Digital Leads in the Building Materials Industry
Any lead that comes to your business is there because of a relationship. In sales, we usually think of forming relationships as handshaking at networking events, cold calling and sending printed flyers to our neighbors’ mailboxes. These relationships were formed because of in-person, genuine and repeated connections and have the potential to become promising leads for the business.
Digital leads are no different than traditional leads in that they come to your business because of a relationship! However, the way the relationship is formed and nurtured is what sets digital leads apart from traditional leads.
Digital leads are formed from online touchpoints. Paid advertisements, email campaigns, review marketing, website search engine optimization and social media marketing are some of the most effective forms of digital lead generation.
Consumers, marketers, manufacturers and leaders are increasingly searching for information, goods and services online. For some perspective, in 1998, Google was processing just about 10,000 searches per day. By 2006, Google was processing 10,000 searches per second. Now, Google (the internet’s largest search engine) processes over 99,000 searches every second.
For every search conducted on Google, Bing, Yahoo or any other search engine, there’s an opportunity for a relationship to form and a lead to generate. Paid ads, social media marketing, review marketing and other digital marketing and sales strategies are the net where the digital “fish” are caught.
In the building materials space, joining the strength of traditional sales teams with the power and opportunity of digital sales and lead generation can create big wins for building materials marketers and manufacturers.
Assessing Your Sales Team's Current Capabilities
Your sales teams are rock stars. They’ve learned to handle rejection, to identify opportunities and to never give up. As you prepare to upskill your sales team to capture digital leads and make digital sales, it’s essential to assess their current capabilities.
It’s entirely possible that their sales training, up until this point, has been fully centered around in-person interactions. Phone calls, meetings and persuasive conversation tactics are likely second nature. The good news is that the same tactics apply to digital lead generation and sales.
As stated earlier, digital leads are formed because of relationships. If your sales team knows how to create relationships in person, they’ll be able to form relationships online.
As you audit your sales teams’ digital readiness, here are a few things to pay attention to:
Attitudes toward digital lead generation methods (paid ads, emails, social media, etc.)
Technical capabilities such as social media posting and messaging and following up with digital inquiries.
Previous or personal experience with digital lead generation and marketing strategies.
Support and training that your business is equipped to offer them.
Your sales teams’ bandwidth to upskill in the digital space while maintaining their current sales responsibilities.
Your marketing teams’ and sales teams’ current connection and relationship.
Implementing a Digital Sales Strategy
As you implement a digital sales strategy, consider getting your business’s marketing team involved in either training aspects or in a consultant role. Digital sales is a ripe opportunity for your business’s marketing teams and sales teams to become more aligned and more impactful.
When building out a digital sales and lead generation strategy, consider unique aspects of the building materials industry. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
What digital platforms is your audience on?
Who is your ideal audience?
What kind of language do they respond to?
How important is branding in their buying decisions?
How will you measure your sales teams’ success?
How will your sales team know if they are performing in the new digital space?
When starting anything new, it’s best to start small. Instead of implementing and training on email campaigns, review marketing, social media marketing, inbound marketing and paid advertising all at once, choose one, master it and then move on.
Better yet, start with what’s familiar. Traditional sales tactics and digital sales strategies include the same funnel phases.
Encourage your sales team by explaining they are exercising their same sales expertise, simply digitally.
Training Your Sales Team
One of the most effective digital sales skills is understanding when leads are cold, warm and hot. When speaking with a prospective client face to face or over the phone, determining where they stand is relatively simple. Clear social cues like tone of voice, body language and curiosity can let you know quickly whether a prospect is viable or not.
Understanding how to read “digital social cues” and how to set up marketing campaigns for the different kinds of leads and prospects is paramount for digital sales success.
Thankfully, there are softwares, data analytics programs and automations that do most of this heavy lifting for you. By setting up email campaigns that are only triggered by a certain engagement rate, you can be sure those leads are being nurtured well, right where they are in the buying cycle.
By conducting regular social listening practices, you can see who is engaged on your business’s social media platforms, leaving reviews and making purchases or abandoning their carts.
Creating retargeting and competitor paid advertising campaigns allows your business to strategically advertise to in-market leads. While many of these processes will be handled by your digital marketing team, educating your sales team on where their leads are coming from and how they should nurture them is important.
Consider implementing continuous digital sales training options for your sales team. Webinars on chatbots, workshops on email campaigns and online courses on general digital marketing best practices can create a cohesive and strong frontline between your sales team and marketing team.
Let your sales team know exactly who to contact and how if they run into issues so that they feel supported at all times.
Identifying and Overcoming Resistance to Change
As you get training started, you’ll inevitably encounter some sort of resistance, whether it’s from the sales team bucking against learning new software or from the marketing team taking a protective stance for their processes.
If your sales and marketing departments have historically been siloed, the first step you should take is to create spaces for them to get to know each other on a personal level. In-office mixers, off-site excursions and small joint projects are all great places to start.
When employees feel personally connected to one another, there’s a greater chance for productive collaboration to take place.
Additionally, setting up regular one-on-ones with your sales and marketing teams can create space for them to ask questions or voice frustrations. It also gives you the chance to more intimately explain why changes are being made and why the training is not only important to the business but to their sales career as well.
Once the marketing and sales teams are personally connected, introducing statistics and numbers for what’s possible with digital leads and sales gives a common ground for everyone to stand on and fight for. Establishing the goals before the path of progress is always empowering for teams.
Though you may have an idea of how to accomplish the goals, communicate that you’re open to everyone’s thoughts on how the teams can collaborate and to any new and creative processes that aren’t in play yet. This ensures that everyone feels heard and also shores up any holes you and your training team may have missed when you first drafted the training.
Adopting Technology and Tools
There are several CRM platforms and softwares that are specifically designed to help digital sales personnel nurture leads in every stage of the buying cycle. The most popular are Salesforce and HubSpot. For the building material and manufacturing space specifically, companies like Zoho, Zendesk and Microsoft Dynamics are available.
Adjusting to a new workflow, especially new workflows that utilize new technology, may pose a challenge for many of your sales professionals. Host a training specifically on setting up an ideal workflow that both reviews the new platforms and addresses any emotional concerns like learner incompetency, inefficiency and potential for errors.
Keep in mind that implementing new CRM softwares can take months of time and effort before they are fully integrated into your business. Be clear that you don’t expect your sales team to master everything in just a few days or weeks — you don’t want them to feel overwhelmed and rushed to adjust and learn.
Making a gradual onboarding process can help ease the transition and ensure concept mastery along the way.
Tracking and Measuring Success
Once the CRMs are in place, the marketing and sales teams are collaborating and digital leads are rolling in, it’s time to train on data analytics and campaign improvement strategies.
While your business’s digital marketing team or data analyst may play a significant role in this process, training your sales team to identify KPIs and bottlenecks can help improve processes more quickly.
Common digital lead and sales KPIs are:
Inbound phone call volume
Online form fills
Paid ad clicks
Email open rates
Social media engagement rate
Review volume and type (positive, negative, neutral)
Finding bottlenecks can be as simple as hearing the same questions over and over again on the phone and adding an FAQ section to your business’s website. It can be reading about the same issue with a product or employee many times in online reviews and taking action to rectify it. It can be testing email open rates when a new element is added to an email campaign.
Having your sales team ready and equipped to spot these KPIs and troubleshoot small issues will not only improve your customers’ experience with your brand, but it will also provide the sales team with a sense of agency and an understanding of how they can improve.
Every building materials and manufacturing business has gone through some sort of transition during its operations. Implementing digital lead technology is just another challenge to overcome.
Onboarding your building materials sales team to digital lead generation will set your company miles ahead of your competition. As the business world has steadily gone more digital, building materials and manufacturing companies have been slow to follow.
Now is the perfect time to harness the power of digital leads and sales. Every business model can benefit from a strong digital presence and a digitally savvy sales team, including building materials and manufacturing businesses!
As you train your sales and marketing professionals in nurturing and generating digital leads and sales, you’re paving the way for unprecedented growth for your building materials and manufacturing business.
Venveo proudly stands in the gap between building materials and manufacturing companies and digital sales success. Our proven digital growth processes guide your business in finding and connecting with your audience online while compelling them to take action. Contact us to learn more about how Venveo can help your building materials and manufacturing business’s online presence.