Continuing on from our previous blog about the importance of closing the sales gap, we invite you to begin practical steps toward closing the gap by using what you know to take your business further down the road with increased sales and revenue.
Not sure what that means? Hear us out.
First, when it comes to end-user companies that use fluid power, if they’re from the same industry, producing like product, they most likely have similar production processes and use similar tooling.
With that assumption, distributors of Fluid Power Products can begin to “close the gap”. Here’s what that looks like:
- Identify an industry to target
- Build a profile on current end-user customers in that industry
- Take knowledge of those customers to develop sales tactics targeted at growing the company’s foothold in that industry.
This sales approach is an effective way to increase revenue, but it takes some time to get started. We’ve outlined steps below to help companies on their path to closing the gap.
Step 1: Dive Deeper into Your Current Customer Base
Expanding sales opportunities outward is key to growth, but the approach outlined here begins with distributors taking a closer look at their end-user customers.
The goal is to find end-user customers who:
- Are profitable
- Have good sales activity
- Buy products you are able to easily fulfill and are looking to sell more of.
Your “deep dive” should also consist of some basic analysis of each customer:
- What are their processes, and how do those processes require your product?
- What needs and technology is in use, and how does your product mix fit?
- What are some of their “pains”, and how have you effectively provided solutions utilizing your products and services for these pains?
Getting to know your customers’ application and process is essential for selling in a way that will resonate with your future prospects.
Contact your manufacturers and suppliers for their insights about the customers and markets you are targeting. Manufacturers may have a different perspective on the industry which can lead to actionable insights.
Talk to their sales or business development team to get their ideas for going after & creating new business. With luck, they’ll see the connection to how your company’s growth benefits them, and they’ll offer insights into different industry sectors that you can use to improve your sales and marketing efforts.
Step 2: Find Specific Companies to Target
To find companies from your ideal industries in an effort to grow your market share and close the gap in those fields, one technique to identify and locate prospective customers within your targeted industry is to employ a reverse SIC / NAICS search.
First, query current customers with high sales activity and conversion rates, identifying their associated SIC/NAICS code(s).
Then, use the code(s) to search databases with publicly-available business information. One option is AtoZ Databases, a public research tool often available through your local library.
Once you’ve entered the code and other options in the search, it will “drill down” and generate a list of specific prospects who are in the same market space as your best current customers.
Organize the list by targeted geography, removing anyone that doesn’t seem like a good fit, and highlight those of the most interest.
When this process is complete, you have a solid base from which to begin outreach to the resulting prospects, with the business name, contact information, etc. that will power your sales and marketing efforts.
Step 3: Begin to “Close the Gap” with Sales & Marketing
Once you understand your end-user customers’ processes, needs, and pain points, and you have targeted lists of other companies in the same industry, the prospecting work begins.
You’ll approach these new prospects with knowledge and credibility gained from taking a close look at your current customers, offering to meet their needs in the same way you currently meet the needs of companies in the same industry.
Finding the right blend of sales and marketing efforts to generate orders and revenue becomes your next big challenge!
Lather, Rinse, Repeat
If you decide to make “closing the gap” part of your sales culture, it is important to implement a repeatable process. This process involves continuously studying your customers and your customers’ competition to ensure you are not missing opportunities to enlarge your sales footprint, and continuously improving the conversations you have to maximize effectiveness and results.
With a personal goal of taking care of the customer at all costs, CEO Cory Gilbert has been a driving force behind the high level of customer satisfaction at Hydraulic Parts Source since 2009. Cory has a “whatever it takes” attitude and helps maintain a customer service team that is accountable, honest, efficient, and hard-working. One of the first things you’ll learn about Cory in his professional life is his belief that “customer relationships are everything.”
Cory is a graduate of Alma College with a degree in Finance and Marketing. Outside of work, he enjoys spending time with friends and family. He is a sports fan who also enjoys golfing in his free time.