Industrial cold calling is hard work. Really hard work. In another way, its also very easy work. After a year or more, not only did I establish target markets for the entire United States, but I had to be the one to go in, and take the early bows and arrows.
Its all well and good to say, ‘yes, we know the energy industry uses Industrial Fabrics’ but you cannot call up Exxon, Chevron, Or BP and just talk to them. So you try to find end users and distributors. The big ones do not need a fifth or sixth supplier nor another relationship. And the small ones either do not buy or, when they do, only sporadically.
I looked up ALL 1200 locations shown by a major competitor, as distributors, then did it a second time for a second major competitor, and either called them, or led a team to do so. Thus we found 95% of the main distributors.
So I had to map an entire value chain, ‘process map’ the entire United States. First refineries, then welding suppliers, then manufacturer representative. Then the ah hah moment, getting to end users, some good, some bad. Shipyards are a lot easier to talk to than chemical companies. Glass making and aluminum, very hard to engage. Foundries and fabricators sound so good, but hard to also talk to. Key personnel do not want to sit by the phone, or when they do, know better than to talk to you.
You pretty much need to build a CRM–I prefer Google Sheets–in what would otherwise be Excel, but then when you hire other persons, needs to be sharible.
Early on, having left the distributor-importer start up, then came back, I had to unravel all the chaos. No blame. Senior sales guy we hired, was by himself.
Most important of all, assign a date or value to all leads as open, closed, or pending, what I call ‘yes, no, or maybe’? And when in the grey zone, how hard do you try and how to account for that in a group process.
Then curating those evaluations–when you last spoke, when to talk next, when blocked and have the case notes so a group of FOUR persons can share the data and act. That is what I proudly set up.
You cannot always get your say, but in the end, the group said the sheet got too big, and asked to split it between supplier, industrial-insulation, MRO-shipbuilding, and enterprise-reps. Yet I took gigantically undefined areas and make a structure first for my boss, and me, then a senior sales person, then a junior associate.