How to sell Industrial Products Online

The way people buy things online has changed. People now expect to find good data organized in an easy-to-use way...

People now expect to find good data organized in an easy-to-use way, just like they do when they are buying things online.

This change means that companies need to invest in digital catalogs and create a good experience for their online customers. If you don't do this, you will lose business to companies who do.

Now is the time for businesses in the industrial industry to change how they sell products online. We will help you do this in this post.

Search Engines

You need to be where your potential buyers are looking. This means being on search engines and websites that they are visiting. Most people start their searches on Google, so it is important to be found there. The search phrases that buyers use are usually very specific, containing 3-4 words describing what they want. An example of a long-tail search term an industrial buyer might use is "automotive metal stamping Indiana."

E-commerce sales activity in the B2B sector within the United States is projected to be more than $1.8 trillion by 2023. This accounts for 17% of all B2B sales stateside. According to a Forrester report, if you want to see the future of B2B e-commerce, look at the top-rated consumer sites.

Keep in mind that not all buying activity between businesses is strictly transactional. Most e-commerce activity revolves around people looking at products, figuring out what they can be used for, and exploring customization options.

Business-to-business buyers are spending more time and money online. If you don't provide useful information on your products, engineers or sourcing professionals will not bother looking further.

You need to give the specifier and buyer the detailed information they need to make informed decisions. This is especially important in the B2B market, where buyers can afford to make mistakes that would be much more costly in a B2C market. For example, users might be able to afford to buy the wrong type of shoes, but in large-scale industrial operations, purchasing the wrong parts or equipment can be a million-dollar mistake.

This is why 68% of industrial buyers use websites that are focused on industrial products — these websites have a lot of information about products and how to use them.

For example, when you list your business on Thomas, it becomes more visible to people who are looking for your products. These people are engineers, procurement managers, and MRO professionals. This increases the likelihood of you making more sales. More than 1.4 million B2B buyers, engineers, and procurement managers search for industrial products on every month. If you sell industrial products, those buyers can't find you if you're not listed.

B2B Buyer Behavior 

As online buying activity increases, there are fewer opportunities for salespeople to meet buyers in person.

A Gartner report found that sales reps who are more successful are those who help customers find information that is readily available. They don't pressure buyers and it is more convenient for them. 

In the past, your sales team spoke for your products. They knew how to position them and what benefits to emphasize. But now, as B2C habits cross over into the B2B field, you need to provide data that can do the talking for you. Every detail—every measurement, material option, customization, and use case—needs to be readily available to buyers so they can make informed decisions.

Many distributors have realized that people are changing the way they buy things. So, some distributors are changing how they do business to stay relevant. However, some distributors are still having a hard time getting good product data from manufacturers, even in this new landscape. Offering informative product data helps both your customers and your distributors. It also helps your bottom line.

Content driven, data-reach website

Different people want to see different kinds of content when they are thinking about buying something. Some people want to see quick and informative videos, while others prefer reading full guides. If you have a variety of content, you can connect with more people. 

But it is not just enough to be in front of the right audience. People are familiar with the amount of information that is available online about products. B2B buyers expect to have access to information 24/7.

By the mid and late buying cycle stages, buyers are looking for detailed information about products. A recent survey of industrial buyers shows that 82% find this kind of information influential — more so than pricing.

As buying behavior changes, many industrial manufacturers are transforming their online catalogs to look more like Amazon's. They are moving towards selling products directly to consumers. In order to do this, they are filling their catalogs with data and specifications that make it easy for engineers and sourcing professionals to find what they need. Suppliers need to put in a lot of effort if they want to sell their products. This includes providing sales drawings, technical specifications, tolerances, certifications, equipment lists and more. Many engineers and buyers require downloadable CAD drawings where applicable. If suppliers don't provide this content, they run the risk of losing the sale.

Your website should have at a minimum:

  • An About Us page
  • Pages for each of your product categories, with concise descriptions of each product
  • An interactive catalog of your products
  • A Contact Us page

An example of a company that is focused on both product quality and customer relationships is ASC Engineered Solutions™. This company manufactures and supplies pipe connections, valves, support systems, and field services with locations all around the world. What's impressive is that the marketing and product management teams at ASC have focused on using product data to support their customers. They've also created a "service-first" marketing approach to help them stay engaged with prospects and surface future project opportunities.

Communicate How Your Products Solve Problems

Today's buyers spend a lot of time online looking for information about products before they decide which ones to buy.

For manufacturers, getting their products in front of the right people is all about having the right data in the right place at the right time. Having your product data in one easy-to-access place allows engineers, procurement professionals, and MROs to find exactly what they're looking for when they need it. This way, they can quickly determine whether your company is a good fit for their project. So your product discovery and selection experience should be streamlined.

People who need your product or service will be happy to give you their contact and project information in exchange for the data they need. This will result in high-quality leads for your business.

Make sure that your website and product catalog have all the key details people need.

Delivery Performance

Different buyers look at different things when they are trying to find a new home. But almost all of them look at how well the home was delivered on time. If your home was delivered on time, you should show this off in your marketing materials. You can say how often your home was delivered on time and give examples.

Green Friendliness

Many customers are looking for environmentally-friendly business practices when choosing a new supplier. If you have environmentally-friendly business practices or an ISO 14001 accreditation, let potential buyers know.

Job Samples

When it comes down to it, buyers care more about what you can do for them. You should show them how good you are at what you do. This includes providing project samples with photos, lists of materials, specs, tolerances, turnaround times, etc. Describe the industries you have served and include testimonials whenever possible. The more information you can provide on your past performance, the more likely you will win business in the future.

Let’s take Schroeder Industries for example. Schroeder Industries provides a wide range of solutions to fluid conditioning. They are always at the forefront of this industry, and their website reflects that. It has many pages that show how deep their technical expertise goes in different markets, such as Automotive and Printing or Forestry and Railroads. After browsing these pages, partners looking to work with Schroeder can see how much they could benefit from collaborating with them.

Public relations matter 

Even if you are not in the news business, it is important to have good public relations. People who are buying your products want to know what is going on with your company. They might want to see a website where they can find all the news in one place. This way, they can get the full story and will not be confused about anything that is going on with your company. You can put press releases on your website about things like new hires, innovations, acquisitions, product releases, etc. If something important happens that customers, prospects or staff members should know about, then you should announce it on your website.

Safety first

If a supplier doesn't take safety seriously, it can be very dangerous for buyers. You should tell them that safety is important to you and your business. You should also have a statement expressing your commitment to workplace safety and OSHA regulations.

Product Catalog System

Your products and services are valuable, but what can be even more helpful to buyers is your knowledge. You can set yourself apart from the competition by going beyond the catalog and showing your in-depth understanding of big-picture issues impacting buyers – and communicating how you can solve them.

Make sure you have an online system that supports your product catalog. The right online product management platform will give you backend tools for self-maintenance and allow your customers to configure and select the exact products and components that meet their project requirements through a self-serve interface.

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Greater sales tomorrow begin with your decision now.