How Can Small Engineering Companies Compete With Larger Outfits?

Sarah is a sales & marketing content writer, with ten years of experience within the engineering & manufacturing industry.  Working both at Qimtek and on a freelance basis, she can usually be found hammering away at a keyboard or with her head in a pile of engineering drawings. 

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The hunt for new business can sometimes feel like a disheartening journey - especially for small companies. Whilst larger businesses enjoy the benefits that come with having a well-recognised name, smaller engineering companies sometimes have to work a little harder to stand out from the crowd.

The most important thing to remember is that it is still possible to win new business when you’re competing against larger outfits, so don’t throw in the towel just yet! Smaller engineering businesses can offer a range of benefits that larger companies often cannot - think personal service, increased flexibility and reduced overheads. The main challenge usually comes down to increasing brand awareness, which - although it requires an investment of time - is often much more simple than you might think!

If you’re worried about going head-to-head with larger competitors, then why not make it easier for yourself with the following techniques?

Give Your Website a Spring Clean:

The ever-increasing power of the internet means that it’s now more important than ever to have a functional website that portrays a positive image of your company. A website can present your business as a professional supplier - or it can do the exact opposite. This is especially important when it comes to competing with larger suppliers, as it gives credence to your budding reputation as a reliable, trustworthy company.

If you haven’t reviewed your website in a while, then it’s worth taking the time to check it’s working for you. Remember, a good website should look clean and not cluttered, with a clear user journey and plenty of call-to-actions to entice visitors. For further information on how to build a great engineering website, please read our guide here.

Kick-Start Your Online Presence:

Setting up social media accounts - and consistently using them to interact with your audience - can work wonders for your business.

Whilst it’s essential that you have a fantastic website to promote your business, your own website is only the start of what you can achieve online. Whilst a website acts as a shopfront, other online activities will drive visitors to your website and therefore increase the power of your brand. If you haven’t already done so, then setting up social media accounts - and consistently using them to interact with your audience - can work wonders for your business. Sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter provide you with direct access to your target audience and can grow your prospective customer base with every like, share and retweet. Meanwhile, videos can serve as extremely powerful tools when it comes to online marketing, so it may be worth considering setting up a YouTube channel to showcase your expertise.

In addition, guest blogging on industry-specific publications can return excellent results, but remember, a blog should never be used to actively promote your brand - they should instead position you as an industry expert by offering consultative advice or opinions to readers. We’re always looking for guest bloggers to feature on our site, so why not get in touch for further details?

Get Testimonials:

Never underestimate the power of testimonials to support your sales efforts! Larger companies have already established their reputation and are therefore credible, which is why some buyers are less hesitant to place their business with them. For smaller engineering companies, building the same level of trust amongst potential customers has to be a priority if they ever hope to compete with better-known subcontract outfits.

Testimonials from existing - and satisfied - customers are a surefire way to make this happen. If you’ve recently completed a job for a client who was delighted with the results, then perhaps ask them to send you a few words saying so. Most will be happy to oblige and once you’ve managed to gather a few testimonials, you can instantly disparage the uncertainties of any future customers.

Understand Your Unique Selling Points:

 Every company has strengths that they can draw upon, no matter how many companies are offering the same, or similar service.

If you don’t know what sets your subcontract engineering business apart from the crowd, then how can you expect your customers to? Every company has strengths that they can draw upon, no matter how many companies are offering the same, or similar service. The trick is identifying your unique selling points and using these to give you an advantage over the competition.

As I previously mentioned, smaller engineering companies can often offer a number of unique selling points that larger competitors are unable to match. For instance, a smaller premises and a scaled-down employee base usually means that overheads are lower, enabling you to pass the savings onto your customers. A smaller team means a more personal service, which any buyer who has ever been in a sticky situation with a supplier will value. Smaller companies are also more likely to go above and beyond for their customers, thus meaning that they usually offer increased flexibility and can cater to urgent requirements. 

Once you’ve identified your unique selling points, you may want to go a step further by inviting potential customers to your premises. After seeing your setup firsthand, new clients will understand that you’re able to deliver what you promise, making it easier to secure both immediate and ongoing work.

READ: Finding Your Niche As a Subcontract Engineering Business

Brush Up Your Sales Skills:

Smaller companies are less likely to have a dedicated salesperson in place, resulting in company owners having to juggle their sales efforts around the day-to-day running of the business. In addition, you probably started your engineering company to do exactly that - engineer. Therefore, it’s only natural that sales may not be your favourite activity, nor the one that you’re the most proficient in.

By taking the time to brush up on your sales skills, you can approach new business knowing that you’re prepared and giving yourself the best possible chance of success. Before you go booking a place on an expensive sales course, why not give our sales blogs a read? These were specifically written for engineering businesses and will give you the tools you need to succeed against competitors of any size. Simply click the link below for a comprehensive list.

Click here to browse our full range of engineering sales blogs.

Remember Qimtek membership exists for the sole aim of putting subcontract engineering suppliers in touch with active manufacturing buyers. If you’re looking for new customers, give us a call on 01256 394 500, or email