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Maritz Motivation: Behavioral Insights in Manufacturing

Dawn Schillinger and Barry Kirk of Maritz Motivation discuss why behavioral insights are critical to the manufacturing industry

|Aug 24|magazine13 min read

Behavioral insights allow companies to understand the root causes around people’s behaviors and what motivates a person to change his or her behavior and actions. Combined with science of rewarding behavior, behavioral insights can be applied to build loyalty and advocacy - and predict future impact. This allows companies to make data-informed decisions that create a competitive advantage.

One company that specializes in this area is Maritz Motivation, a behavioral insights company dedicated to unlocking people’s potential. Maritz Motivation identifies what motivates humans in a meaningful way – whether they’re employees, internal or channel sales partners, or customers – and how motivation creates growth and profitability for their partners. With over 450 million program participants, Maritz Motivation has a plethora of data at its fingertips to understand people and solve business challenges. Maritz Motivation works across several different key industries, including manufacturing.

Dawn Schillinger, a Maritz Motivation Strategist, emphasizes the many challenges facing manufacturers in today’s market. “It’s currently quite difficult to get new employees into the manufacturing industry, and it’s equally challenging to retain employees and keep them motivated,” explains Schillinger. “I work often in creating sales motivation, and untangling challenges facing manufacturing sales distribution is a frequent puzzle we’re asked to solve. It’s not as simple as a direct sales force selling to a direct consumer. We’ve worked with many companies to unlock data previously inaccessible, uncover insights on the people and behaviors critical to the organization, build relationships with key partners and bring the manufacturer’s brand and vision closer to the end customer.” 

Barry Kirk, Vice President of Strategic Services at Maritz Motivation, says many manufacturers also have a powerful asset to drive sales performance that is often sitting idle --- namely, a mountain of unleveraged behavioral data. “This is quite a common issue that large, sophisticated companies face. They have been tracking sales performance for decades and have a plethora of data points they can track behavior against, yet they struggle to use their data in a meaningful, actionable way” explains Kirk. “Five years ago, you just needed someone who could write you reports. But higher performing companies are now becoming disciplined about turning their data into prediction, but that requires the ability to develop sophisticated AI-driven algorithms. You need someone who can harness machine learning to tell you what the future is going to look like. It’s a major challenge for companies who haven’t been thinking that way.” Schillinger agrees and acknowledges it’s no longer just good enough to simply report the data. “It has become essential to predict the future and act on it as a result,” she says. “Digitalization has changed a lot of salespeople and customer expectations when they go to a brand. People expect personalization to scale, and manufacturing is a particular place which has really accelerated personalization.”

With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting all industries, Kirk sees signs manufacturing is slowly beginning to recover. “Many companies we’re currently working with are focused on winning the recovery, but the reality is that no one knows when the recovery will actually begin,” explains Kirk. “Until that time arrives, we’re labeling this current phase of the pandemic as ‘Cautious Commerce.’ The market is trying to regenerate itself, but it is doing so with lots of variation, stopping and starting, so it’s important to be aware and understand how that will affect your sales talent.”

Schillinger shares four key tips manufacturers can leverage when designing a sales motivation solution in the midst of a pandemic: understanding and meeting people where they are; connecting through meaningful communication, maximizing the motivational and maintaining relevance to market realities. “As the last few months have shown, this pandemic is uncharted and rapidly changing territory,” she says. “It’s important to have an agile mentality and a flexible strategy in place so as new situations arise, your motivation strategy can pivot quickly to meet the needs of all involved. The COVID-19 crisis has shown if you’re not ready to respond at a moment’s notice, you’re at risk.”

Beyond the current pandemic, the sector continues to experience significant change against the backdrop of Industry 4.0, Schillinger believes keeping the people top of mind is even more critical. “When I look at the manufacturing space, there’s rapid change,” she says. “The explosion of IoT has made it clear that organizations will need connected products that create recurring revenue - and salespeople able to sell that. It’s a different and challenging model that relies on customer satisfaction and maintaining customer relationships. And it’s important to identify the strategic partners and invest in those relationships, even if currently smaller and less noticeable, as that is where the potential in the future lies. Organizations must be ready now, because 10 years down the line, competitors will have caught on and it’s too late.”

“Consumerization is the other trend companies need to take seriously,” adds Kirk. “Every experience in the marketplace will be judged by expectations set by consumer experiences, including B2B experiences. We’re expecting things to be more personalized, digital, mobile and friction-free. If I were a manufacturer, I’d be thinking about this: the more I can create a relevant and compelling experience for all the constituents in my channel — using the untapped behavioral data at my fingertips — the more successful I’ll be. If you do that, you’re going to succeed in manufacturing over the next few years.” 

Interested in how Maritz Motivation engages the manufacturing sector? Get in touch today.

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