While winter may not be coming, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is already here.
Your sales folks are continuously colliding with current and prospective customers who are wrestling with the unforgiving pace of IIoT technology advances. Sensor-enabled equipment and complex machinery are generating a tsunami of data. These data are largely un-touched, un-analyzed and un-interpreted.
SAP-Forrester late 2015 research reported that:
- 50% of global enterprises know they need to move towards IoT adoption so they can utilize data to deliver enhanced customer experiences.
- 75% of companies polled do not feel they currently have the leadership support required to navigate the risk and complexity of IoT deployments.
There is a huge gap between what your customers have and what they need to compete in the IIoT marketplace. How is your organization crossing this sales chasm and collaborating with your customers?
An IIoT sales strategy focuses your team beyond customer acquisition.
It’s not news that the majority of selling practices place a premium on new customer acquisition. On the other hand, in complex selling environments involving capital expenditure on equipment and systems, a customer’s lifecycle can create even greater value during the duration of their relationship with your organization.
While upselling and cross-selling hardware, software and services constitute the majority of your team’s customer retention efforts, do they have durability to last in the IIoT manufacturing environment? Consider that equipment can last anywhere from 5-20 years within a plant. During its lifespan, that equipment operates in a dynamic environment. It is not just a hunk of steel on a plant floor.
What can change during the life span of the capital equipment, platforms and services you sell?
- Workforce churn (Will you be selling 20 years from now? Will robots become operators?)
- Environment (What other equipment will be present within the operations as well as business environments?)
- Technology (How many technology upgrades, updates and advances will “happen” on an almost daily basis?)
If you have a “wake me up when it’s all over” mindset about creating an IIoT Sales Strategy, you are not alone. Think about the 50% of companies in Forrester Research who have avoided thinking about their IIoT business strategy.
It’s like trying to boil the IIoT ocean.
IIoT sales strategy leverages customer success for customer retention.
What “typically” occurs when you close the sale and bring the contract in-house for post-sale implementation?
An entirely different cast of “support” folks become responsible for the care and feeding of your customers. Your hard-won first sale now becomes the responsibility of other people. Since your sales organization encourages you to “keep on hunting” you take your eye off your prize and go in search of the next one.
How can your sales people collaborate when they are busy hunting?
- Consider first that operations and technical support folks become the sales team for the second sale. These individuals create customer experiences, listen to your customers’ voices and fix problems. How much of these valuable data ever reach your sales teams?
- Also, customer experience is only one set of popular metrics to utilize when targeting upsell, cross-sell and renewal. Unless you are a theme park or hotel, those metrics may not reflect End User Experience of your equipment, platforms and software within an IIoT manufacturing environment.
- Finally, customer success captures customer milestones achieved over the duration of that customer’s and equipment’s life span. Customer success incorporates experience, but does not rely exclusively on these data.
The key to IIoT sales strategy is cross-functional collaboration.
Tomorrow’s IIoT multi-generational workforce is continuously engaged in collaborating with each other, regardless of everyone’s professional discipline or level of education. This dynamic is the future of work.
Their goal is to be productive, profitable and innovative on behalf of your own company and your customers’ organizations. Their focus is creating enduring customer success, which leads to customer retention.
Have you been wrestling with how to create an IIoT sales strategy? Contact me. Let’s discuss further.
Babette Ten Haken is a management consultant, strategist, speaker and coach focused on customer success for customer retention. She traverses the interface between human capital strategy for hiring and developing collaborative technical and non-technical employees. As a sales newbie, Babette walked into her first manufacturing plant – a slaughterhouse in Oklahoma – over 25 years ago. She fell in love with manufacturing. She serves manufacturing- and engineering- intensive companies, focusing teams on creating enduring business outcomes. Babette’s playbook of technical / non-technical collaboration hacks, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon. Visit the Free Resources section of her website for more tools.
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