Industrial and supply chain industries get left behind in talks about effective lead generation. We’ve generated $180M in revenue for our clients in 2020, let’s look at some of the best ways to generate leads for your industry.
Let’s cut right to the chase. Industrial and supply chain oriented verticals, in my experience, struggle to generate leads.
It’s something I’ve seen for years, throughout my career in marketing & sales.
Why? One word: inefficiency.
Industrial verticals are celebrated for bringing efficiency into the supply chain, essentially functioning as the backbone of the world economy.
However, in the world of marketing and sales, inefficiency runs rampant.
I’ve asked hundreds of B2B industrial CEOs, presidents, and engineers about how they generate new business. The answer I get, generally, is some form of: “Well, we don’t have a solid system. We go to trade shows, we cold call, and we tried online advertising, but that didn’t work”.
The bad news is that, going into 2021, this “system” is not going to be sustainable. Spending $80,000+ per year on trade shows is not only not possible, it’s not efficient.
The good news is that through all of this turmoil, we’ve developed a system that actually builds a sustainable pipeline of new business leads for industrial & supply chain companies. And we’re willing to share and help your company get to the next level, whether you’re in manufacturing, logistics, automation, electronics, or any other supply chain-related industry.
1. The Underdog: Cold Email Outreach
Cold calling works. I would not debate that.
But the question is not whether or not something “works” or not, is it?
It’s about the efficiency of how WELL it works, and the bottom line RESULTS it brings to your business.
With those values, cold calling does not work.
It’s a ton of manual work, with tons of room for error, and it generally takes hundreds of calls to bring in a decent deal.
Your business can’t keep employing “sales reps” at a full salary to slam the phones, searching for the next cold lead that has a problem you can solve.
Enter Cold Email.
Cold email, simply, is reaching out to cold prospects with an introductory email gauging interest in the product or service you provide.
It’s a soft way to introduce yourself, and see if there’s a need on the prospect’s side, that you can help with.
Now, cold email gets a bad reputation (just like cold calling), and for good reason. With the sheer amount of spammers out there, it’s admittedly tough to make cold email work.
The problem is: so many companies do cold email WRONG.
Here’s a few things they get horribly wrong (you’ve probably seen these before):
4 Common Cold Email Mistakes
- The message is too long
Cold email copy should 100% fit on a smartphone screen, and be no more than 3 paragraphs. Anything longer or more involved than that and you’re asking to get marked as SPAM by your prospect. Avoid bullet points and salesy jargon.
- Links in the email
There should be 0 links in cold emails. It hurts deliverability and can be interpreted as SPAM by email service providers. A cold email should gauge interest, then deliver links if the prospect is interested.
- Unsubscribe link in the cold email
There’s nothing less personalized than an “unsubscribe” link that takes you to an automated email program’s page. “Reply STOP if you don’t want more emails” is a better way to go (and still not totally necessary).
- No business address or phone number in the cold email
In the USA, to be CAN-SPAM compliant, you need to include your physical business address at the end of the email. This simple tip will add tons of reputation to your emails and let email providers know that you’re credible. Including your phone number also helps this effort.
As you can see, most of the cold emails you have received probably violated one or more (or all) of these key principles.
The fact is, for industrial or supply chain technology companies, cold email works insanely well.
The reason it works so well is that industrial decision makers generally don’t get a million cold emails per day, like many other industries do.
It’s also a very phone/relationship based sell. Usually fairly high ticket and requires some initial information before quoting a project. This type of sales process works perfectly with cold email for the initial lead generation, then a phone call to build the relationship and qualify the prospect.
This methodology leads to WARM calls instead of cold calls, leading to a higher win rate overall, with less sales team output.
2. The New Kid on the Block: LinkedIn
Ask anyone what the largest, most updated, most accessible B2B lead database is, and I guarantee you you won’t hear “Dun&Bradstreet” mentioned. You’ll hear “LinkedIn”.
While social media is the last thing many of us in the supply chain world would like to engage in, a little engagement can go a long way on the LinkedIn platform.
There are 2 main strategies that we’ve seen work for industrial & supply chain businesses on LinkedIn:
2 LinkedIn Lead Generation Strategies
1. LinkedIn Direct Outreach
Similar to the Cold Email strategy, with some slight differences in cadence/process. Outreaching on LinkedIn is a simple process where you use LinkedIn Sales Navigator to create lists of your ideal customers, send them connection requests, then, if they’ve connected, reach out with a direct, but friendly introduction cadence. The goal is to generate interest/a lead, and take them OUT of the LinkedIn platform.
2. Play the Algorithm, Build an Audience
Often seen as an extension to the direct outreach strategy, the other huge advantage of LinkedIn is the social algorithm. Send connection requests to your target customers, then post industry specific articles, how-to guides, company news, and other engaging content. Your new connections (aka your target market) will see your posts and you/your company look like industry experts, resulting in inbound leads.
These strategies work, but it definitely depends on your target market. The problem can be that decision makers (the ones you really want to talk with), may not be the most active on LinkedIn.
However, if you’re targeting engineers or even C-Level employees, it can work very well and generally has higher response rates than cold email.
Again, it depends a lot on your target market – but a LinkedIn strategy can work wonders in building an audience, generating warm leads, and closing more new business using a very simple step-by-step strategy and a few key tools.
Pro tip: Use GrowthBoost to mix LinkedIn & Cold Email outreach in the same app.
3. The Long Term Strategies: SEO, PPC
This article is definitely written in chronological order in the sense that when you’re doing business – you need leads.
Not tomorrow, yesterday (in most cases).
You need to have a sustainable, full sales pipeline to grow your industrial, supply chain, or technology business.
I’ve talked to many industrial business leaders who respond to my “how do you generate new business” question with: “we’re working on our SEO program now”…
Cold Email Outreach or LinkedIn Outreach should be pumping out qualified leads successfully before you even *think* about Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
If that’s the case, and you’re efficiently generating new leads, but want to expand the efforts over the long term – then, by all means, let’s talk SEO & PPC (pay per click advertising)!
Pay Per Click Advertising (PPC)
Pay per click advertising (PPC) on networks like Google and Bing are extremely powerful for capturing existing demand in the market.
Depending on your exact vertical, there may be prospective customers searching for exactly the solutions your company provides.
Why not pay a nominal fee “per click” to show high up in the search results and (in a perfect situation) generate a lead?
Sounds ideal, but there’s more to it than that, unfortunately.
Google and Bing Search Ads run off of their own proprietary algorithms that respond to several factors when showing search results.
Instead of trying to guess (many of them are not public), we can talk about what the perfect experience would be from the *customer’s perspective*.
First off, for a specific search, the webpage they click to needs to provide the info or solution they were searching for!
This is one tactic that 99% of your competitors are not doing, and where you can see fast success.
Secondly, PPC is an auction and you’re bidding on keywords, so you need to make sure you’re bidding on the RIGHT keywords with high buying intent, so you’re not wasting clicks.
You should also use Negative Keywords to exclude certain terms, in order to make sure the searches your company shows up under are the right searches to drive bottom line revenue.
Just these two tactics will get you further along than most of your competitors, who run general traffic (non-targeted keywords) to their homepage (general info, doesn’t answer the question or present the solution directly).
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search engine optimization (SEO), when done right, is the most powerful lead generation weapon in your arsenal.
It essentially produces new business, on autopilot, with no money spent per lead. Completely free targeted traffic!
Sound like a dream?
It’s 100% possible for companies of any size.
The question is: how do you execute SEO for your industrial company efficiently?
The answer is simple, but executing it is NOT easy, no matter what anyone tells you.
The answer is, truly, “create great content that aligns with what people are searching, then get other great websites to link to your content”.
Easy… not so much.
You need to start by figuring out what your target market searches for and how you can create better content than your competitors around those topics/keywords.
I prefer to think of SEO in terms of topics rather than keywords, because over the years, that’s exactly what Google has done.
You can’t simply stuff a million keywords into the bottom of your general content website and expect it to rank in search engines.
You need to write meaningful content, film helpful videos, post valuable info on LinkedIn – point being, you must create GREAT content that your ideal customer will resonate with.
Generating a full sales pipeline of leads for Industrial & Supply Chain companies is easier than it looks, for the most part.
You have to shift your thinking from “aggressive” (cold call as many people as possible) to “efficient” and “strategic”.
Modern B2B buyers don’t want to hear all about your product and how great it is.
They want to know how it will help them progress, help them increase efficiency, and ultimately make them money.
The old “pitch” is over, and now it’s all about the “relationship” and the value you’re offering.
Always start with outbound methodologies, rather than inbound.
Outbound is short-term (which isn’t a bad thing!), and inbound is long-term.
The problem with inbound is if you get started and expect leads to flow in right away. It won’t happen. It takes time, money, and data to nail down inbound marketing to the point that it brings in good leads on a daily basis.
With outbound (cold email & LinkedIn outreach), you could see great results within 1 week, and optimize with the fast data/feedback you’ll naturally get from that process.
Prioritize properly and you will grow when others shrink going in the 2020s.
Set up cross channel outreach campaigns across LinkedIn & Cold Email.