collaborative virtual workspace Archives - Striven

How Partnerships Can Impact Sales

In the manufacturing sector, we all are reliant on strategic partnerships with our suppliers, dealers, distributors, freight and rail vendors, and customers. Success is dependent on the entire network. If one link in the chain fails, we all fail.

As a distributor in the middle of the funnel, we rely on our international suppliers for their subject-matter expertise, product inventory, training, and marketing materials. They rely on us for our sales and marketing expertise, technical support, and local customer relationships. The customer relies on us to provide an accurate and on-time order to supply their manufacturing process so they can manufacture and deliver to their customer. There are so many interdependencies in a distribution channel. 

crm manufacturing software

How can manufacturers or distributors develop these customer relationships? Well, first we need to generate leads to nurture and, eventually, convert into customer relationships and sales.

7 Ways Manufacturers (Or Almost Any Industry) Can Build Partnerships

1. Phone Calls

Yes, cold calling still is a thing. And as people tend to ignore email messages and social messages, sometimes picking up the phone and having an old-fashioned chat is the best method. In the past year, phone calls often have become video calls via Zoom, Teams, and other digital platforms that allow us to replicate face-to-face meetings à la The Jetsons.

2. In-Person Meetings

One of the best ways to build a partnership is a handshake and sit down. We tend to buy from people we like. If someone can see your body language and hear your tone of voice, he or she is more likely to develop a relationship with you as a person. The email can be the introduction or open the door, but the personality usually closes the sale. The inability to do so in the COVID-era has spawned the advent of video meetings that tend to be more cost- and time-effective, as well as sanitary. No hand gel required. That leads us to…

3. Tradeshows

This tried-and-true method of collecting leads went away in March 2020, and most people in the industry found that virtual tradeshows just weren’t as effective. By now, organizations have returned to in-person tradeshows.

4. Email Marketing

Email and messaging,Email marketing campaign,Working process, New email message

This tried-and-true method of collecting leads went away in March 2020, and most people in the industry found that virtual tradeshows just weren’t as effective. Happily, organizations have since returned to in-person tradeshows.

You can email your existing customers or qualified leads who have opted in from your website or a tradeshow, but don’t purchase lists! These people have not opted in. You can get shut down for spam. So, how do you get new leads? Read on!

5. Social Media

Posting on social media is a good way to develop brand recognition and get to know people who become your advocates. Join groups that are specific to your industry. Then you can use LinkedIn Sales Navigator or paid ads on Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Google and do pay-per-click campaigns to further identify interested leads.

6. Trade Publications

If you have the budget (that you’ve saved from tradeshows and salespeople out on the road), you always can go the route of placing digital and print ads or even a low-cost spend of a listing in directories or guides. A more expensive, but effective, option is to deliver a webinar that the publication promotes. This will give you a list of new leads that you CAN add to your CRM and email marketing campaigns. Another route is contributed content. This means looking at the journal’s editorial calendar and pitching the editor with a thought-leadership article. If accepted, it costs you nothing but the time to write it. It gets your name in front of potential customers and positions you as an industry leader while familiarizing people with your brand. Also, a free listing (yes, FREE) with Thomasnet will drive some traffic to your site.

7. Trade Associations and Online Forums

One organization that can help with resources for small- to mid-sized manufacturers is your local Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP). On a larger scale, there’s the National Association for Manufacturers (NAM). Additionally, industry-specific and regional trade associations can get you in front of customers. Think about pitching a technical talk or webinar and presenting to the organization’s membership rather than just attending meetings and handing out cards. This can show your value and expertise. Join some online forums where people are looking for information, for instance, Reddit, Quora, or industry-specific forums. It’s all about positioning the brand as an industry leader.

Next Steps

Some of these methods require content. Content is necessary for marketing. You can take that article you wrote for the trade pub, host it on your website, gate it behind a sign-in, then promote it on social media or with a PPC campaign. This will allow you to capture leads. We’ve all entered our name, company, title, and email in those fields on a website to download some content that we thought would be useful. 

It’s time for manufacturers to ramp up their digital games and jump on technology in order to build partnerships to generate leads that turn into sales. Technology can be your partner.

all in one manufacturing software

The future is here and is only going to get more complex. If you didn’t notice it before, you saw it in 2020 during COVID when in-person meetings ground to a halt and lead generation tapered off or plummeted. We need to embrace it to grow our businesses and remain viable in the digital age. If we don’t, we will go the way of the dinosaurs, or our business will plateau. If you want growth, then things need to change.

5 Benefits of a Shared Virtual Workspace

With the expansion of the Coronavirus, many organizations are re-evaluating their position on remote work. While there are plenty of remote work naysayers out there, opinions on its benefits or detriments are now beside the point. But making a transition from on-site to remote work shouldn’t be like ripping off a bandaid. Especially considering many employers’ fears or productivity loss, the technology tools a company chooses can be a huge determining factor in whether everyone is still connected and on task. Ultimately, it’s the employer’s responsibility to provide an experience that empowers staff to not only continue work, but also to find new methods of productivity. In short, they must provide a shared virtual workspace.

What is a virtual workspace?

video call using all in one business management software

The virtual workspace is where and how people at your company collaborate online. It exists in the software and programs you use to communicate and work daily. From office favorites like Slack to process-based project software, your company has a growing number of ways to work together. 

But what is the value of a collaborative virtual workspace? And how can it improve your business? 

Here are five major benefits they provide to employees of companies with every type of remote and on-site working model:

1. Promote Company Culture

Many employees communicate with each other over social media platforms. But they rarely work together that way. While marketing teams use social media to promote your company to the rest of the world, you need a way to share things internally.

Virtual workplaces provide internal sharing features that function similarly to social media. Employees can post company news, big wins, personal accomplishments, or anything else that fits culturally with your office. These features are especially helpful for remote employees that may not have an easy way to check in with company-wide news. 

Great company culture isn’t just about social posting— it’s about providing dynamic ways for your employees to interact. Surveys and internal quizzes can be great for scheduling company outings or digital “events” that bring people together.

2. Decrease Reliance on Email

benefits of a virtual workspace software

Even if your company uses an app like Slack or Google Chat to communicate internally, you’re probably spending a lot of time sending emails back and forth. An article in Inc. reports that “the average office worker spends 2.5 hours a day reading and responding to an average of 200 emails.” Those messages likely include:

  • Document requests
  • Edits or updates to existing work
  • Conversations related to a task or project
  • Task follow-ups
  • (Endless) replies

Because it exists outside of your main software hub, documents and follow-ups sent via email tend to get lost in conversations. When your employees need to find them, they’re probably searching through replies to find what they’re looking for. We’ve all had that experience— and it’s a huge time-waster. 

As a solution, a collaborative virtual workspace can centralize documents and allow discussions on tasks and projects.

3. Improves Workflow

Much like the issues caused by email, lacking a single place to store documents and conversations is a roadblock to a streamlined workflow.

Let’s be clear: employees should not be transferring company docs via email or chat. That’s a bad idea, not just because some of those docs may contain sensitive data. It’s also one of the primary ways information gets lost.

A shared digital interface should be the only thing you need to store, edit, update, and transfer company documents. Using this model, employees don’t have to send emails or chat messages asking for anything. Instead, they just log into the system and access whatever they’re looking for.

Imagine every employee of your company logging into a single system. Now imagine that it’s the only thing they need to log into throughout their workday. That experience alone is what unifies both remote and on-site employees.

4. Connects External Users

While it’s important for your employees to keep work in one place, what about those outside your company? How can customers, vendors, or even candidates interact with you?

A shared virtual workspace can extend beyond what’s internal. With portals, any external stakeholder can connect directly. And you want them to connect for multiple reasons:

  • Allow customers to pay invoices, see work history, and approve contracts
  • Search for vendors, establish contact quickly, and allow them to submit bills
  • Create job postings, allows applicants to apply online, and automate communication

That’s just a small sample of the functionality portals provide. Whether you consider the portal an extension of your virtual workspace or an integrated whole, they allow for a comprehensive experience.

virtual workspace tablet connecting employees5. Removes Silos

Departmental silos can exist within any type of office configuration. Silos interfere with collaboration, especially when it’s needed most. At their worst, silos necessitate software systems that produce multiple versions of the truth. As a result, you risk losing data accuracy and overall transparency. 

A collaborative virtual workspace breaks down silos by definition. Employees can use it to access any documents they have permission to see. That means if someone in accounting needs access to sales data, they don’t need to go through a lengthy process just to get to it.

Conclusion

Workplaces will trend more toward collaborative and remote environments. Even as the country (and the world) recovers from the Coronavirus fallout, remote work will likely continue to rise and gain legitimacy. And in scenarios where workers are either 100% remote, 100% on-site, or split, you need coherence in communication and collaboration.

Virtual workplaces connect everyone in your company, no matter where they are. By centralizing discussions, documents, and data, your employees can do everything on a single platform. Chances are, they’ll be happier and more productive when you’ve defined your software hub as the place to be.