9 Reasons to Drive Business Results with a Manufacturing CRM

In this post, we explain why it makes sense to use CRM for manufacturing and share the stats that prove its business benefits.

In 2018, 46% of sales teams said they widely used CRM systems (2018 Sales Operations Optimization Study, CSO Insights). CRM software keeps gaining popularity and entering new industries, without passing by manufacturing. According to Capterra, manufacturing is one of the top industries that leverage CRM technology—along with retail, business services, banking, and technology.

Top Industries Using CRM

Initially, CRM software was designed for customer-centric businesses that could compete only by creating exceptional experiences. This includes delivering personalized service and help customers make purchase decisions easier. Despite manufacturing companies primarily deal with B2B clientele and suppliers, they also have to adopt this customer-centricity if they want to stay in business. 

This is why a growing number of manufacturers realize the value that CRM systems bring to the table. In 2018, manufacturing enterprises accounted for 11% of the users of the leading CRM platform, Salesforce, and the figure will keep growing in upcoming years.

Although the market of industry-specific CRM systems is evolving, to date none of out-of-the-box products can fit manufacturers’ needs well enough. As an alternative, companies can opt for a platform-based solution, like this Salesforce CRM optimized for manufacturing by Iflexion.

Success stories like this one prove that a CRM is a lot more than a digital Rolodex. So, let’s see why it is worth considering a CRM for manufacturing for your business.

In 2018, manufacturing enterprises accounted for 11% of the users of the leading CRM platform, Salesforce, the forecasted to keep steadily growing in upcoming years. Is it worth it in every case?

Why Use Manufacturing CRM Software

CRM systems are versatile, offering a batch of specific benefits for every industry they are adopted for. Manufacturers can make use of the following nine opportunities in particular. 

1. You Can Win More Customers with Data Analytics

Both marketing and sales teams in manufacturing companies can make use of built-in CRM analytics. For example, by analyzing won and lost opportunities, you can find out the most efficient lead nurturing and customer reengagement strategies. At the same time, analyzing customer profiles can shed light on the patterns in customer behavior, which is useful for marketing.

2. You Can Forecast Demand and Plan Promotions Based on Sales Data

A manufacturing CRM allows you to slice and dice sales data to identify your best-selling products and channels. What products are the most popular? What kind of customers shop for them? What partners sell them better than others, and why? A CRM helps you extract such insights from raw sales figures.

Recent studies reveal that accuracy and convenience are making data-driven sales forecasting ever more popular with manufacturers.

Data Driven Sales

Configuring Salesforce reports at Iflexion, we know firsthand that they can help manufacturers forecast demand, find trends in year-to-year sales increases and decreases, and identify peak and low seasons. Manufacturers can also use a CRM to monitor sales by partners, reps, and regions. This data is key to planning effective discount marketing campaigns and optimizing sales across the distribution network.

Salesforce Einstein makes forecasts smarter by adding AI to the mix. In 2018, only 18% of manufacturing sales teams used AI (State of Sales), however, according to Salesforce consultants, the situation is likely to change soon as more companies learn about the advantages of this technology.

In 2018, only 18% of manufacturing sales teams used AI.

3. You Can Focus on More Sales-Ready Leads

Though not included in many CRM offerings by default, automatic lead scoring is a feature that can bring much value to manufacturers. Especially if driven by AI, a manufacturing CRM can help you spot the characteristics of a high-quality lead.

For example, you can identify customer engagement levels based on your previous won and lost opportunities. Then you can match particular lead characteristics, such as the number and value of requests, or the frequency of email openings and answers, to a relevant engagement level and predict a lead’s readiness to purchase. This way, you can score leads more accurately and allocate more efforts to nurturing the ones most likely to convert.

4. You Can Retain Customers with Great CX

Manufacturing CRM software is a hub for all customer data regardless of how it was collected—by the customer support center, field sales reps, or servicing team. Apart from standard contact details, customer profiles keep information about every interaction between the manufacturer and the customer, including purchase history, warranties, service subscriptions, and service requests.

Ideally, a manufacturing CRM should help all customer-facing departments, be those marketing, sales, service agents, or technicians, work together to let customers enjoy the products and services they pay for.

Studies show that the alignment between sales, marketing, and service departments is becoming a new norm for leading brands. In 2018, 75% of manufacturing sales teams shared goals with their marketing colleagues, and 69% had common metrics with service agents (Salesforce State of Sales).

Salespeople relationships with colleagues

Customers are more satisfied when they don’t have to repeat complaints to multiple employees and only need to submit a service request to receive help. Technical specialists, in their turn, can learn all the details, including the purchased product and the warranty status, once they open a request. At the same time, if a technical specialist recommends replacing the product with a more functional one, the sales team will shortly reach out to the customer, already equipped with sound selling arguments. This way a CRM helps manufacturers respond to customers faster and more accurately, hence contributing to long-term customer loyalty.

According to the Salesforce State of Service, the majority of service professionals agree that comprehensive customer information is crucial to deliver outstanding experience.

Unified customer data

However, CRM systems are often used solely by sales departments. To unlock truly cross-departmental cooperation, you should either integrate a manufacturing CRM with other tools, like service desk or ERP, CRM with text messaging or choose a CRM platform that after customization can accommodate the needs of several departments at once (by the way, this is one of the reasons why we chose Salesforce for a manufacturing CRM implementation).

The alignment between sales, marketing, and service teams is becoming a norm for manufacturers.

5. You Can Make Field Service a Part of Your UVP

The work of field technicians contributes to how customers perceive a manufacturer’s products in general. If you can fix issues quickly and without any consequences for your customers’ business, they can close their eyes to minor malfunctions. On the contrary, a poor field service experience can damage your company’s image.

While about 90% of service managers agree that mobile workers influence customers’ attitude to the brand, in their turn mobile specialists admit that insufficient technology stops them from working better.

Capabilities gap

If you sync service desk with the CRM or, what is more preferable, integrate it into the manufacturing CRM solution, you will start paving the way for exceptional customer experience. 

How does it work?

  • Service agents tap into the customer’s data the moment they answer the customer’s call, and this way avoid asking irritating questions. The customer is already unnerved with their problem at this point. If you are prepared, you can mitigate negative feelings fast.
  • Service agents can quickly match the case to the nearest and most fit-for-the-job technicians. You can fine-tune the CRM to automatically suggest field agents based on their experience and availability. Such a feature not only streamlines case resolution but also helps you manage mobile workers more effectively. 
  • Field specialists get complete data regarding the customer and their problem, which allows them to get better prepared for on-site work.

Further on, you can leverage IoT to collect device data in real time and automatically alert service specialists to any unusual performance of your products. With IoT, you can notice issues before your customers do, and this way minimize the negative effect of the downtime. What’s more, IoT data allows field specialists to set out on customers’ requests with precise action plans as they know what exactly is wrong.

Although IoT is not included in the standard CRM pack, it is definitely worth considering. It enables manufacturing service teams to resolve equipment issues fast, increases the level of customer satisfaction with the product.

While 90% of service managers agree that mobile workers influence CX, many field teams don’t get sufficient data.
Deploy a manufacturing CRM for your business

6. You Can Improve Products the Way Customers Want

Product quality is the thing that can make or break a manufacturer’s business. That is why it is crucial to listen to what your customers think about your products, to their complaints and praise. A manufacturing CRM is an ideal place to gather all the hints your customers drop. To give a few examples, you can analyze: 

  • frequent complaints to identify service gaps

  • common service issues to detect product weaknesses and improve them in later versions

  • customers’ questions to the sales team—even if you don’t customize your products, analyzing such data will help you identify the improvements most customers will appreciate.

Simply put, you will reduce the time for conceiving the product concept by acknowledging customers’ ideas and wishes.

By customizing a CRM with robust analytical capabilities, like Salesforce Einstein, you can follow the PDCA cycle much easier and come up with the products that customers will definitely want to buy.

7. You Can Sell More via Partners

A manufacturing CRM is also the tool required to start selling more via your partner network. At the basic level, you can use it to automatically onboard partners and monitor their sales performance. If you go a step further, you can help partners win deals by:

  • providing training materials to let them quickly master your product line

  • allowing them to access and customize your marketing and sales content

  • making it easy to configure products and additional services

Yet, to boost channel sales indeed, manufacturers should think how to help even old and well-performing partners maximize revenue. At this point, a manufacturing CRM requires advanced partner management capabilities. For example, you can offer:

  • AI-driven lead scoring to make partners’ sales efforts more efficient

  • sales guidance to let partners quickly shortlist products by typing in a lead’s budget, desired equipment type, capacity, or other parameters

  • quote calculators to help partners quickly apply discounts and adjust the order to meet a lead’s limited budget

Overall, managing partner activities in a single manufacturing CRM can help you get full visibility into how your products sell as well as gain more insights for improving your offering.

8. You Сan Simplify Quoting with Automated Parallel Actions

Quoting is often a time-consuming step of the sales process, especially if it’s a promotional deal or the one on special contractual terms.

It is not enough to just move the quoting activities into any CRM if you want to indeed streamline the process. You should choose a CRM platform that can support synchronous management of multiple quotes. This way, quote requests will be automatically distributed among relevant managers, with notifications for the latter.

9. You Can Ensure Data Accuracy by Syncing CRM with Other Systems

Just like members in a team, a manufacturing CRM should work together with other tools to help you attain business goals. This means a CRM should either be integrated with the systems for managing orders, warehouses, financial transactions, and customer support, or located under one umbrella platform with most of the above tools built in.

Let’s take billing and invoicing as an example. If salespeople and accountants have to manually exchange order details required for billing, they waste the time that could have been spent on serving more customers. If sales and accounting teams work together in a single software environment, order details get automatically sourced from opportunities through quotes to orders. This ensures that no mistake sneaks in and everyone can focus on driving your business success rather than struggling with routine.

A manufacturing CRM should work together with other enterprise tools to help you attain business goals.

What Is the Best CRM for Manufacturing?

At a glance, it seems that the matter is as simple as picking one of the specialized manufacturing CRM offerings, such as MRPeasy, CAS CRM, Pipeliner, Sugar CRM, or other.

However, even a ready-made CRM can’t automatically adjust to the particular needs of your manufacturing business. In 2018, 59% of manufacturing sales reps expected to miss their annual quota, which is a sign that weak or no CRM technology doesn’t let sales teams perform well. CRM software is involved in too many crucial processes, so neglecting its proper customization can result in poor adoption, bloated features, and lost investments—and it’s the best-case scenario.

For this reason, apart from choosing the right software, you are encouraged to turn to CRM implementation consultants, such as Iflexion, to tailor the system to how you do business.

After analyzing both strengths and weaknesses of the top manufacturing CRM software, our team has picked Salesforce as the most functional option for such customizations. Our certified specialists design solutions to satisfy the needs of manufacturers and contribute to their business growth.

A ready-made third-party manufacturing CRM software isn't typically an instantly working out of the box solution. In order to be skillfully adopted and tailored for specific business problems, it needs professional expertise first.
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