Manufacturers continue to make tremendous progress in closing the loop on marketing activities tied to won revenue. Whether an organization sells to the direct end-user or sells through a channel partner, retailer, or distributor, technology exists that allows manufacturers to understand lead hand-off, support lead nurturing, track lead flow, and gain visibility into revenue won.
However, there are some business models that add another layer of complexity. Many manufacturers, like those found in Aerospace & Defense and Building Materials, rely on bids to generate revenue. Government contracts and building contracts are a large part of their business. These manufacturers receive RFQs and provide quotes tied to the defined specifications. But tracking opportunity is tricky in an RFQ model. Not only are manufacturers competing with other material providers, but even if they are selected for the bid there’s no guarantee the bid of that contractor or architect will be accepted.
So how can manufacturing marketers track which won contract revenue is tied to marketing activities?
In order to design a program that will attribute marketing activity to closed revenue, marketers must answer the following questions.
When a bid is accepted who makes the final order? Is it the contractor or architect? Is it the project manager? A purchasing manager for the bidder or a purchasing manager for the government? Perhaps it’s even a CFO? To close the loop marketers must be aware of who will be placing the actual order.
How many material options are included in a single bid? For example, are 3 different door manufacturers optioned in the bid or is one material manufacturer included for each material needed and that is what’s presented in the final bid, by the architect? This information allows marketers to define the sales funnel for each opportunity. If marketers know they’ve been included in a bid than that opportunity can continue down the funnel, if another manufacturer is selected then marketers can close out that opportunity. If marketers don’t know, then they must be more diligent and extend their nurture communications beyond the contractor.
How many contracts would a single contractor or architect manage in a given time? For example, if an architect comes to a manufacturer’s tradeshow booth, are they bidding 1 project, or 15 projects? This will define how marketers develop naming conventions for opportunities in their marketing automation system.
How long is the time from bid to close/won? For example, how long is the time from the bid request at the tradeshow to the time the bid is delivered back to the architect? Is it a week or is the bid delivered on the spot at the tradeshow? Once the bid is delivered, what is the average duration before the manufacturer hears whether they’ve been included in the contractor’s bid? And once they’ve been selected for the contractor’s bid, what is the average consideration time before the contractor is alerted they’ve won the project? For many, this is a game of estimates and averages, but understanding that journey is imperative to defining required marketing programs.
For example, outside of a tradeshow, what other demand generation activity with architects and contractors is required? Or, is the decision of the architect to offer a bid opportunity to the manufacturers made at the tradeshow? Does a relationship between the manufacturer and the architect or contractor exist before the tradeshow or does the tradeshow start the relationship? How does the marketer currently nurture the architect or contractor post-tradeshow or post-bid?
Methods for Closing the Loop
With a better understanding of the journey and relationships, marketers can then begin to develop methods for tracking bid opportunities to won revenue. Consider the following 3 options.
- Collect the contract number from the architect at the time of the bid. The bid request form should contain a field that requires that number as well as the campaign attribute number for that opportunity. The campaign attribute number may be associated with a tradeshow or event, ad campaign, or could be tied to an outbound email campaign. Require the contract number from customers at the time of order placement. The same could be done with a project number or opportunity number. This should become a form field within the ecommerce or order placement tool used.
- Provide a “discount code” to the architect, with the bid. That discount code should be unique to the campaign and the architect or contractor. If the contract is won, the end customer can reference that discount code at the time of purchase. This code will tie that contract back to the architect and the campaign. This method would be dependent upon the number of concurrent opportunities with a single contractor or architect.
- Deliver a PURL to the architect to include in the bid. If the contract is won then the end customer can use the PURL for ecommerce order placement. Again, this is dependent upon the number of concurrent opportunities with, as well as campaigns delivered to, a single architect or contractor. Additionally, if you don’t want to do digital tracking, a special phone number could be generated instead of a PURL.
While closing the loop on RFQ requests can be complex, it’s not impossible. By clearly defining the journey, developing proper naming conventions, and capturing proper identifiers, manufacturers can begin to understand which marketing programs resulted in closed revenue.
How do you currently close the loop on this complicated process?