The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of FreightWaves or its affiliates.

Today there are two types of manufacturers: old school and new school. New school manufacturers are using digital sales tools to meet customer buying expectations and win more sales at a higher price point; old school manufacturers are continuing manual sales processes and failing to attract new customers.

Here are 5 strategic areas you can check yourself on. Which one are you?

1. Product Specifications

Old School: You hold tightly to product specs and pricing out of fear that the competition will use it against you.

New school: You believe manufacturers should provide as much data as possible to help new customers discover you faster, putting you days and even weeks ahead of competitors.

2. Buying Experience

Old school: Your website has a “complete a quote form” that requires buyers to wait for a salesperson call and interview them before you send pricing, specs, and lead time.

New school: Your website allows buyers to “self-serve” online for parts, accessories, and popular SKUs using e-commerce. You’re also one of the “new school” manufacturers who offer customized product configurators for customers to design complex custom products with real-time pricing and lead times.

3. Value Proposition

Old school: You provide PDF line drawings to explain the unique features of your products.

New school: You offer CAD based 3D videos that give buyers a detailed look into what makes your products unique.

4. Integrations

Old school: You rely on EDI and FTP that takes weeks and sometimes months to integrate and updates at scheduled intervals.

New school: You use APIs and webhooks and can integrate in under a week flat with real-time data flows.

5. Speed

Old school: You can produce your products fast, but manual processes and legacy systems cause delays in sales and engineering for days and weeks prior to releasing to production.

New school: You realize that the faster you ship, the sooner you get paid. You invest heavily in sales systems and processes to enable products to be shipped in days instead of weeks.

If you responded with mostly “old school” answers I suggest you read some research and articles on what buyers are looking for and how you might better reach them. Now, more than ever, as we come out of the pandemic, buyers want to do business with suppliers who offer an online sales channel.

If you answered mostly “new school” answers, pat yourself on the back and make sure you are offering the digital buying experience your customers want from you. In turn, this empowers you to continue what you do best – building amazing products!

About the author

Dusty Dean is setting a new standard for how manufacturers can build fast-growing new revenue streams. Dusty formed BITCADET as a one-stop source for manufacturers who are serious about building a digital sales strategy and growing beyond their dreams. He built an expert team of technologists, digital sales experts, and industry analysts to function as his clients’ outsourced digital growth department that delivers revenue growth on an accelerated schedule. Dusty’s philosophy is for his team to do all the work so clients can focus on what they do best – building and shipping quality products.

Connect with Dusty on LinkedIn: @DustyDean BITCADET: Follow BITCADET at