Due to the complexity of your products and your customers, manufacturers have always relied primarily on salespeople to deliver the goods.
The standard operating procedure is to take an engineer or technician who has a good set of social skills, and transition them to a sales role. The goal here isn’t to persuade customers; it’s to communicate complexity.
Since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, that’s been the way of the manufacturing sales and marketing world.
However, in the third phase of the Industrial Revolution, in which the digital world emerged, the Internet changed the paradigm. Customers began searching online for answers to questions about products and services.
In fact, according to a report from SiriusDecisions, nearly 67% of the B2B purchasing process takes place online.
The customer isn’t looking to replace the technocratic sales rep. They are simply looking for the fastest way to get the information they need. And that’s where the Digital Twin concept comes into play.
Content becomes the “Digital Twin” of your sales team.
In manufacturing, a Digital Twin is a digital version of a machine or a manufacturing process. They are created for prototyping, or to test the usage of new materials or operations adjustments.
The concept of a digital twin can be applied to the manufacturing sales-driven model: with content becoming the digitized representation of your engineer or technician!
The concept, as we explain in our Digital Twin marketing manufacturing strategy, is to recreate that information-dispensing functionality with content throughout the customer journey.
We liken it to the age-old sales maxim that people won’t do business with you unless they know you, trust you and like you. You can create content to fill the same role.
Getting to Know You: Offer Informational Content.
At the entry point into the sales funnel, you’re just introducing yourself to a prospect. This is where you don’t talk about your products – you talk about your audience’s problems on a broad level, with your overall strategic approach (much like we’re doing with this article).
Content description: Informative, focused on customer problems.
Content formats: Blog posts, videos, infographics, guest blogs, social media posts.
Goal: Add them to your newsletter list (email only), achieve brand exposure, rank for semantic keywords.
Getting to Like You: Provide Helpful Tools.
Now that you’ve identified some key problems, provide a small part of the solution. In terms of content, this can be an online calculator or a diagnostic tool – anything that helps them get closer to formulating a solution.
Content description: Interactive tools, solving problems related to your products and services.
Content formats: Downloadable charts, checklists, or online calculators. (White papers, yes, but ungate them unless you have proprietary research.)
Goal: Add them to your email list (with company info), establish LinkedIn connections.
Getting to Trust you: Explain Product and Service Details, Backed by Social Proof.
Now that you’ve helped walk the client to the promised land, it’s time to focus on your products and services. Your product can do a lot of the talking, but you’ll need case studies to do the convincing. This is where your content can help close the deal.
Content description: Product and service webpages, social proof, links to case studies.
Content formats: Website pages.
Goal: Form submission with detailed company information, phone inquiries.
There’s no substitute for a real sales team – only support.
Using content as a Digital Twin is not a call to replace your sales team. Your products and services are too complex for that to happen.
Instead, consider this a reinforcement of your sales team; the resources to back your salesperson up when they’re not there.
Content can also add gravitas and data-backed support for your sales team. When your salesperson makes a claim, they can follow it up with an article sharing the research-backed data that proves their point.
Just as there’s no danger in over-communicating internally, you also can rely on a content-based Digital Twin to help your sales team prove a point.
Marketers need to make the first move.
Marketers, it’s up to you to take the first step toward creating the Digital Twin. You need to drive the initiative. Meet with your sales team. Sit in on sales calls. Really learn what they’re saying to customers, and most importantly, what customers are saying to them.
Get down into the trenches and really show your sales team that you’re building the Digital Twin to support them in every possible way.
In the process, you’ll build the kind of digital presence that your customers are demanding more and more. With nearly 70% of the customer journey taking place online, do you really have any other choice?