The evolving role of direct mail in capital equipment sales

Ed Marsh | Aug 24, 2017

direct mail is a really effective tool in capital equipment sales lead follow up sequences

7 attempts to contact

You've heard the common wisdom. It takes 7 attempts (phone and email) to actually connect with a prospect.

And so marketing automation has been implemented in many cases to dispatch the emails and prompt the calls at the consistent 2 or 3 day intervals. The tempo is so consistent now that it's instinctive just like the talk, pause, talk that occurs on conference calls.

It's like the communication channel version of corporate speak. 

Every company says they're different.....using exactly the same language and justifications. Guess what message your sending?

And every company tells their sales reps to use the same follow up sequence of calls and emails. It's like starting your pitch with the admission that you're like every other sales rep in the world.

Probably not an effective approach for a capital equipment sales world where buyers have all the info they need...without ever talking to a sales rep.

Normal isn't a capital equipment sales strategy

There is no percentage in blending in - with your solution, your messaging or your sales approach.

People with limited time, constrained budgets and competing priorities are looking for unique insights. That's the premise of the Challenger Sale model, and it's a requirement for success selling in a world where only 3% of the possible buyers for any given product or service are in the market at any given time.

People want to work with those who are uniquely qualified to help them - not lemmings.

That creates a challenge:

  • you've got to make multiple attempts to reach someone
  • the typical email & voice mail sequences are just that...."typical"
  • cold calling in person doesn't work (isn't even feasible in most cases)

So what do you do?

ABM can play a role by increasing awareness and perhaps easing the path of one of your emails with a bit of background resonance.

But better yet...go rogue.

Direct mail isn't what it used to be

HubSpot has built its inbound marketing pitch on the obnoxiousness and folly of direct mail. And it's largely right. Simply dropping thousands of trade show postcards, line cards or brochures in the mail is foolhardy. Couponing may work for weekend grocery shopping or a new pizza joint in town, but it doesn't work for capital equipment sales.

HOWEVER, just as industrial trade shows remain effective, individual pieces of direct mail can too. What if you substitute a personal, visually impactful and effective piece of direct mail for one or two of your follow up sequence steps?

Here are some steps that make it effective:

  • Create a well written, templated letter that talks about the legitimate business problems that you solve
  • Don't hammer the buyer, but be a resource
  • Incorporate some forwarding URLs that make it easy for someone to reach a couple key online resources that support your work by manually typing simple URLs (since there aren't hyperlinks in direct mail!)
  • Make it personal
  • Make it stand out (I have seen some very effective mailings using clear envelopes like this with impactful, colorful, cover/address sheets)

As direct mail has fallen out of favor the volume has dropped. Your signal will battle less noise.

Disrupt the status quo and your prospect's expectations with a legitimate, helpful and unexpected follow up. Not only will you likely improve your success rate, you'll also model through your sales follow up some uniqueness (not gimmicks.) Since prospects dread wasting their time with average sales people, they may be more inclined to take a gamble on you, hoping whether your creativity will carry over into helping them understand and solve problems.

Capital equipment sales is a game of singles

If you think some great feature is going to help you're wrong. Capital equipment sales success is predicated on executing really well at hundreds of different tasks. From qualitatively understanding buyers, to answering the questions they're asking at all stages of their journey, to providing insights into their business that make them more effective, and even the nuance of your lead management and follow up.

Great teams are consistently looking for incremental performance improvements in every phase. That includes the right time to call to optimize connect rates and A/B testing nurturing emails for effectiveness.

But don't stop there - be different; be better.

And if someone along the way led you to believe that industrial marketing was a simple set and forget process, take a look at this whitepaper that digs into the complexity of successful revenue growth approaches in a digital world.

free whitepaper complexity of revenue growth strategy