The established marketing rule is to promote benefits not features, but for some manufacturers, this can feel like a leap into the unknown.
This is because manufacturers are very much focused on the thing they are manufacturing, and on ensuring that it meets quality assurance standards and will perform as expected. This focus can be at the expense of a more proactive approach to marketing their products.
As Paula Bates of Toucan Telemarketing explains, “Manufacturers are specialists in their field. They know they have a niche product, but this can act as a constraint on their ability to find new customers in their existing market, or to explore new markets.”
When it comes using outsourced telemarketing services, manufacturers are often reluctant to engage, because they feel that the technical expertise lies with solely with them.
“Manufacturing is, by its nature, very technically-focused, with companies more likely to have area technical managers than business development managers, for example.”
The feeling is that because they are specialists in what they produce, this expertise is central to marketing the product.
“Manufacturers have customers they know, and who understand what it is they produce, and so become reliant on repeat orders or recommendations within the boundaries of their known market”
The risk is that this becomes too inward-looking, and that the same technical knowledge that has led to product development now ends up restricting the opportunities to market it.
“Technical sales teams in manufacturing may be very good at certain aspects of the sales process, but their scope for reaching new markets is limited by the way their technical expertise anchors them down. They are often more reactive than proactive.”
This goes back to manufacturers existing in a comfort zone, where they can rely on enquiries from known sources.
“Broadening their customer base means employing a different skillset, which is not dependent on technical insight, but on forging relationships through telecommunications.”
Here, the emphasis is on pro-actively looking for new prospects by exploring opportunities through telemarketing.
“Markets are not simply known entities with clearly-defined boundaries. There will always be someone you don’t know about, who would be willing to buy your product”
What specialist telemarketing does is to create opportunities for manufacturers’ technical sales teams.
“It’s not about having insight into the detailed technicalities of a product, but rather the skills to spark interest in potential customers, and bring them to a place where they are then ready for a more in-depth conversation.”
This is where a skilled telemarketer can cast a wider net than a more traditional technical sales team.
“It’s not about making a choice between one or the other. Telemarketing is designed to work alongside sales and other professionals, as a crucial means of enhancing their opportunities.”
The same focus on quality applies here as it does to the products themselves.
“Telemarketing is a professional discipline. It’s about connecting with people, and it works for many different sectors and industries, including manufacturers,” Paula concludes. “The effectiveness is in the way the agent works, not in their depth of technical knowledge about the product.”