Why are manufacturing companies choosing to adopt CRM software? How are your peers using CRM for manufacturing? How did they find the right fit? We asked a few of our manufacturing customers about their experiences to uncover common trends. Here’s what we found:
Why CRM for Manufacturing?
When it comes to using software, the manufacturing industry is on top of its financials. The customers we spoke with all were wise to the power of ERP. They already used an ERP and understood its value. However, they began looking at CRM solutions after realizing the ERP lacked capabilities for deep customer management. Specifically, many of our manufacturing customers mentioned the lack of sales functions for tracking pipelines, monitoring opportunities, managing contacts, and even fostering technical support. A lack of data transparency and usability in the ERP created more work for each team member with individually siloed information and no way to conveniently access info on-the-go.
Several customers were offered a CRM as a bolt-on when they purchased their ERP solutions. The problem was, the CRM bolt-ons were not robust enough to be worthwhile for the additional investment. When they realized this issue, they decided to wait and investigate a CRM for themselves.
How Do Businesses Search for Manufacturing CRM?
We asked our customers to tell us how they searched for CRM so we could better understand their process. Three themes were consistent:
- Googling “CRM for Manufacturing”
- Talking to industry peers about their experiences
- Scouring the internet for whitepapers, customer stories, and other educational assets
These approaches weren’t surprising considering 81% of people do online research before making large purchases and peer recommendations are some of the most powerful influencers of those purchases. What we were surprised to discover was that most of our customers didn’t think to seek out a CRM consultant. Consultants are great resources when searching for a CRM because they can help narrow options faster by quickly filtering out the “junk” CRMs that won’t work with existing systems.
A good consultant will have deep knowledge on which programs play well together and which systems are adaptable enough to create the right experiences. They can guide CRM purchase decisions so businesses invest in the solution most likely to guarantee success.
Luckily, our customers were recommended to us by their peers and/or found us on their own after doing their initial research, so were able to identify some good options for them early on.
What CRM Criteria Were Manufacturer’s Looking for?
As mentioned in the first section, our manufacturing customers knew that they needed something to connect sales and support, build data transparency, and make data accessible across departments. They wanted the ability to manage accounts, contacts, and leads, and use the data stored in the sales and service departments to feed information back to management. Some customers placed strong emphasis on demand forecasting, while others were more concerned with mobile functionality. These differences make the crucial point that, although CRM for manufacturing provides a solid baseline for improved operations, the specifics of what each customer needs will still be as unique as their business. That means the right CRM for one business may not always be the perfect fit for another, but there are some common features all manufacturers should keep in mind when starting their search.
A few months ago, we posted a blog on what to look for in manufacturing CRM. In it, we list some of the key features useful for most manufacturing professionals. Those features include distributor tracking, email integrations, and ERP and accounting integrations, to name a few. Check out the post to view our full list, as well as our downloadable PDF of 21 questions to guide your selection of manufacturing CRM software.
How Did they Choose the Best CRM for Manufacturing?
After the online research, peer discussions, and CRM consultations with our staff, our customers had a solid understanding of what they should be looking for. Several CRMs fit the bill at a high-level, but the deciding factors came down to the following:
- Ease of ERP integration
- Speed of implementation
- Adaptability for specialized functions
- Ease of maintenance
- Out-of-the-Box features
Numbers six and seven on this list stand out, and here’s why: While several of the runners-up integrated with the ERP and were generally adaptable, product completeness remained a major deciding factor. One customer noted that, while his company did not need any “fancy” functionality, some of the options they were considering still required plug-ins for the basic features they wanted. This was a deterrent because it meant they’d have to invest more time and more financial resources to begin working with the product.
In addition to complete features and functionality, the customer noted our professionalism (Thanks!) and felt comfortable putting their trust in us for support. Purchasing software — especially software that will be connected to another major system (ERP, email, marketing automation, etc.) — is not a “one and done” experience. There are upgrades to think about, training to consider, and barriers to overcome. A solid support partner will ease those burdens by sticking with you for your software lifetime as an implementor, trainer, integration consult, and general software advisor.
To learn more about your options for manufacturing CRM, contact our skilled staff. We’ll set up a free consultation to discover your pain points and recommend a solution.