The order books are continuing to fill up – it’s time to equip the sales team with the most effective tools

After struggling with the corona pandemic in 2020, the plant and mechanical engineering sector experienced a strong recovery in 2021 with double-digit growth.

Orders in the industry rose by 47 per cent compared to the same period last year, from March to May, and by a further 35% in the period from September to November. According to the VDMA, the boom period is over for the time being, but the economy is still enjoying significant growth in many countries.

„… the economy is still enjoying significant growth in many countries”…” says chief VDMA economist Dr Ralph Wiechers.

Data from the Federal Statistical Office also clearly shows that the mechanical engineering sector is continuing to experience an increase in orders. Both the turnover index and the production index have again shown a significant upward trend since April 2020 and are approaching pre-pandemic levels. Is this at long last the recovery we have all been waiting for?

Engines on and full speed ahead!

Many companies initially put their orders on hold because of the corona pandemic, so there is now a lot of catching up to do. Some companies are noticing this due to the increasing number of enquiries. Although the economy is recovering, there are still some hurdles: On the one hand, the constricted supply chain situation is causing problems and creating material shortages. On the other hand, salespeople are still finding it difficult to access potential buyers due to the corona measures. Besides this, many potential customers no longer want to be approached directly by the sales force, but prefer to gather information themselves first. The sales team is unable to change this situation.

This makes it all the more important to secure the piled-up orders as soon as possible. You may well be experiencing delivery problems due to the supply bottlenecks – but so are your competitors. This is precisely why it is important to enhance your sales operations in order to stand out from the competition. Engage your potential customers as early as possible and impress them with your products and solutions. After all, if you don’t do this, then your competitors will.

Professionalise the way you handle enquiries

In times like these, it is important to strengthen your sales organisation. With a configurator, you will be able to manage an increased number of enquiries and orders with the same sales resources and at the same time professionalise your enquiry process. Potential customers are able to already visualise your products via your website and discover the possibilities while putting together their own products in the web configurator. At the same time, prospective customers leave behind their data and background knowledge when they use the web configurator, so your sales team is able to address the requirements of your customer in an even more targeted way. And your sales team is also able to use the web configurator as a digital showroom and can configure a product with ease that perfectly meets the requirements of the potential customer and is technically feasible.

Web configuration is gaining importance – don’t get left behind!

Web configurators are now commonplace in the B2C market – from the customised composition of breakfast cereals to the configuration of cars. However, manufacturers of complex capital goods are also increasingly opting for web configuration in order to be able to receive customer enquiries directly. The companies Lisec and Metrohm, for example, already use configurators. And other companies are also working on optimising the customer experience and their sales processes.

It does not always have to be an all-encompassing solution. A simple enquiry configuration system is all you need to capture as many customer enquiries as possible in the first instance. This can often be created and put online within a few weeks. Initial successes can thus be generated with minimum effort and within a short period of time. The solution can then gradually be adjusted and expanded for your sales team.

Picture of Simon Schröder
Simon Schröder

Head of Sales and Marketing, encoway GmbH