Manufacturing Sales Training: Key Strategies For Success

Manufacturing Sales Training
Field Sales Account Management


See how SPOTIO can increase your team's sales performance by automating, tracking, and optimizing every moment in the field.

Sales reps in the manufacturing industry face unique challenges.

Competition is fierce, buyers often come to the table with preconceived notions—notions that must be adjusted to make sales—and prices continue to plummet in an attempt to win business.

We’re here to tell you that success is possible in this space. But you need to train your reps to overcome the challenges in front of them and close deals. A strong manufacturing sales training program can help.

In this article, we’ll explain what manufacturing sales training is, why it’s important, how to build an effective manufacturing sales training program for your department, and more. Let’s get started!


What Is Manufacturing Sales Training?

Manufacturing sales training is a specific kind of sales training that helps professionals close more deals in the manufacturing industry. It typically includes information about the products/services being sold, tips to analyze customer needs, proven negotiation and closing techniques, and more. Those who go through manufacturing sales training are generally more confident and competent in their roles.


Why Is Manufacturing Sales Training Important?

Now that we know what manufacturing sales training is, let’s talk about why it matters to sales departments like yours. Here are four reasons you should invest in this kind of sales training:


Enhances Product Knowledge and Confidence

As mentioned above, the best manufacturing sales training includes information about the products and/or services its reps are asked to sell. It makes sense. Reps can’t close deals if they don’t understand their offering’s top features, use cases, and competitors—at least not at a consistent clip.

It gets better. Once reps have deep product knowledge, they’ll be more confident. Since confidence breeds trust, the bedrock of sales, those who have it tend to drive more revenue.


Shortens Lengthy Sales Cycles

Generally speaking, manufacturing sales cycles are long. Reps that succeed in this industry find ways to shorten them by identifying quality leads, meeting with decision makers, and learning prospect pain points.

Manufacturing sales training will teach your reps how to do these things. The result? Shorter sales cycles, lower cost of acquisition, and ultimately, more revenue for your company.


Increases Customer Satisfaction

Happy customers are worth their weight in gold.

How so? Happy customers make repeat purchases, which shortens sales cycles (see above) and increases revenue. They also recommend companies to their professional and personal networks.

So, how do you increase customer satisfaction? You build rapport with potential buyers, understand their needs, and provide them with viable solutions—all things you learn in manufacturing sales training.


Drives Brand Awareness and Advantage

Would you rather buy a box of Captain Crunch or a generic brand of corn and oat puff cereal? Sales are much easier to make when potential customers know about the company and/or product being sold to them.

Manufacturing sales training will teach your reps how to strengthen brand awareness by showing them how to leverage case studies and testimonials. It will also help them position your company’s products or services as the top solutions, which will build credibility in the marketplace.


What Are The Challenges of Manufacturing Sales Training?

The manufacturing industry is difficult to navigate. There are numerous pitfalls you need to avoid to find success. Said pitfalls should be communicated to sales reps. Here are the most common ones:

  • Competition: The manufacturing space is crowded. To find success, sales reps have to cut through the noise and convince potential customers to buy their products, not someone else’s.
  • Low Pricing: Thanks to increased competition, prices in the manufacturing industry have taken a significant hit. It can be extremely difficult to grow a company on such small margins.
  • Preconceptions: Buyers have access to an incredible amount of product information before they ever talk to a sales rep. This allows them to build preconceptions, which reps often have to adjust.

These are very real challenges. But a stellar manufacturing sales training program will help your reps overcome them, quickly and consistently. You just need to make sure your program covers the right topics.


Core Topics for Manufacturing Sales Training

What should manufacturing sales training look like for your company? Every company is different, of course. But the best training programs cover core topics like:


Technical Product Training

Your sales reps should be product experts. If they don’t know what your product can do, how to do these things, and why these features matter, they’ll never drive enough revenue to justify their salaries.

So, when building a manufacturing sales training program, teach reps the ins and outs of your product. This will enable them to demo products effectively, answer customer questions with confidence, quickly overcome objections, and negotiate with potential buyers in more productive ways.


Understanding the Manufacturing Sales Cycle

Your reps also need to understand how manufacturing sales works.

The process is often long and complex. Why? Because most manufacturers are in the B2B space, which means they sell to other businesses rather than individual consumers.

Businesses often have more specific requirements than individuals. More people are involved in the buying process, too. According to recent research, it takes seven people to make a B2B purchasing decision. In other words, reps have to convince seven people to buy their product, not one or two.

Your manufacturing sales training program needs to educate and prepare reps for this process.


Strategic Account Management

Price cuts make it difficult to grow business operations. One of the best ways to avoid this scenario is to teach reps strategic account management skills during your manufacturing sales training sessions.

“Strategic account management” is a fancy term that basically means, “Get to know your customers, learn about their needs and pain points, and build strong relationships with them.”

Once reps learn to manage accounts effectively, they’ll be able to serve customers better. This almost always leads to more sales and greater loyalty—all without having to compete on price.


Adapting to Changing Market Dynamics

If you’ve been in the manufacturing industry for a while, you know things are always changing.

Competitors come and go. Prices fluctuate. Customer preferences change. It’s a lot to keep up with, which is why your manufacturing sales training program should be updated regularly to reflect new trends.

When reps are prepared to confront these new trends, they’ll be able to relate to customers on a more personal level than before and pitch products with more confidence.


Digital Tools and CRM for Manufacturing Sales

Finally, make sure your manufacturing sales training program teaches reps to use your CRM software (or reports from your ERP).

Every sales department needs a quality CRM. But said CRM won’t benefit your reps if they don’t know how to upload, organize, and take advantage of the information it contains.

Fortunately, most CRMs have detailed training for users. So you might not need to create product tutorials yourself; only link to the resources already available to you on the provider’s website.

(The advice above applies to all software in your company’s tech stack. If your reps use route planning apps, sales enablement tools, sales intelligence software, etc. make sure they know how it all works.)


Best Practices for Manufacturing Sales Training

The core topics above will help you create a strong foundation for your manufacturing sales training program. Now you need to elevate your approach with the following six best practices:


Utilize a Variety of Training Techniques

Choose multiple ways to educate your team.

For example, you might have each of your reps participate in different roleplaying scenarios. Or use gamification techniques to increase team-wide motivation. (Leaderboards are great for this!)

Don’t forget to optimize your approach to sales management either. If you practice active listening, identify bad-fit prospects, develop sales scripts, invest in the right technology, etc. you’ll put your team in the best position to succeed. Just as important, your reps will enjoy working for you and put in extra effort.


Coach Sales Reps To Push Past Boundaries

The best sales reps are fearless. They regularly venture outside their comfort zones to try new things. Doing so allows them to discover new sales techniques they would have otherwise missed.

As a sales manager, you should encourage your reps to push past these kinds of boundaries during the manufacturing sales training process. It will help them develop a knack for learning and exploration, which will serve them well in the future. It will also help them build confidence in their own abilities.

This gets at a deeper truth: the best sales leaders are serious about sales coaching. Don’t just manage team performance. Get down in the weeds and help your reps improve their skills on a regular basis.


Educate Reps to Engage Early in the Buying Cycle

Prospecting is critical to your team’s success in manufacturing sales.

The question is, what makes a good prospect? The answer is different for every company. Generally speaking though, good prospects want what you sell, but are still at the beginning of the buying process.

When reps engage potential customers early in the buying cycle they’ll have less competition for each sale. This will naturally reduce the number of hurdles said reps must overcome to close deals. It will also help reps avoid price as their’ only value proposition, which is never a position you want them to be in.


Incorporate Continuous Learning and Microlearning

The way you present your manufacturing sales training program matters. We suggest creating bite-sized lessons and updating them on a regular basis to ensure the information is current.

Why bite-sized lessons? Because microlearning has been proven to be highly effective. When reps can read and/or watch short lessons on their phones they’ll do so more often—mostly because they can fit the lessons in between other activities. Microlearning also promotes better knowledge retention. Win!


Teach the Art of Skillful Negotiation

Negotiation is an important part of the manufacturing sales process. Unfortunately, most sales departments go about negotiation the wrong way by treating it like a specific step in the sales cycle.

The truth is, negotiation happens from the first moment your reps engage a prospect. And it doesn’t end until the prospect becomes a paying customer or walks away from the deal.

Once reps learn this important fact, they’ll be able to negotiate with greater skill and effectiveness.


Use Data and Analytics for Personalized Training

Finally, track your manufacturing sales training program to offer personalized advice to your reps.

Tools like SPOTIO will help you track the number of visits and calls your reps make, as well as the number of emails and text messages they send. You can use this information to adjust your coaching efforts.

For example, you might find that Rep A makes a lot of visits, but doesn’t close many deals. You can then work with them to ensure they’re courting quality leads, making strong pitches, etc.


SPOTIO Simplifies Manufacturing Sales Training

A solid manufacturing sales training program will help your reps gain product knowledge and confidence, shorten sales cycles, increase customer satisfaction, and build brand awareness.

The trick is to create a program that truly helps your sales reps. To make this happen, include the core topics above in your curriculum. Then use the best practices we outlined to make your training effective.

Know what else you can do to increase manufacturing sales? Invest in quality technology.

SPOTIO was specifically created for field sales teams like the one you lead. As such, it has all the features your reps need to increase productivity and sales. Some of these features include lead generation, route planning, customer mapping, multi-channel communication, and reporting tools.

Sign up for your free demo of SPOTIO today to see if it’s the right technology for your sales team!