relationship management is applicable to every industry, including the
manufacturing sector. There is often a misconception that CRM software
is meant primarily for sales departments and/or B2C companies, but this
is simply not true. While all CRMs have functions across sales,
services, marketing, and distribution; industry-specific systems like
manufacturing CRM take those functions a step further. Manufacturing CRM
is built for what manufacturers care about, with capabilities for
achieving the accurate forecasting, long-term relationships, and
streamlined production these companies need most.
Why Manufacturing CRM?
Timing is everything in the manufacturing world. If you make
something too soon, it sits in a warehouse eating your profits. If you
make it too late, you end up with a product no one needs. It’s all about
precision planning and communication, which is why manufacturing CRM
makes perfect sense.
Proper forecasting is the backbone of manufacturing. It’s the basis
for every plan, schedule, order, and purchase in the organization.
Historical sales data and growth percentages must be combined with
real-time metrics on what’s actually moving – today. Manufacturing CRM
provides this, and much more.
Companies using manufacturing CRM see its effects through:
- Waste reduction
- Forecasting accuracy
- Shortened sales cycles
- Inventory and product catalogue insights
- Higher customer satisfaction rates
- Higher customer retention rates
- More cross-sell and upsell opportunities
- Segmented marketing
- Simplified reporting
- Cross-organizational data transparency
- Document management
- Email & phone call record keeping
- Integration with existing systems
- Mobile and Cloud accessibility
- Pipeline visibility
- Streamlined quoting
- Life cycle mapping
- Automated sales activities and reminders
- Controlled access to critical data
The list goes on. Manufacturing CRM takes the innate benefits of an
out-of-the-box CRM and highlights its most valuable capabilities for
manufacturers. As companies streamline their processes and pinpoint
their forecasting, they alter the competitive landscape to their
advantage, leaving slower adopters scrambling to keep pace.
What to Look for in Manufacturing CRM?
There are so many CRMs and so many features offered by each that the
search for the right fit can be exasperating. Which features do
manufacturers really need? What’s important? Here are some tips on what
to look for in a manufacturing CRM system:
Demand Forecasting Functions
I don’t think I need to explain how crucial this feature is. Demand
forecasting is an absolute must for manufacturing CRM. Companies must be
able to analyze the data, report on the trends, determine forecasts,
account for variability, revise inventory, and schedule required
Ability to Track Opportunities & Quotes
Ideally, these opportunities and quotes would be trackable by end user,
distributor and/or partner to allow multiple access points to
information and deeper drilldowns for reporting.
ERP & Accounting Integrations
If you’re investing in a CRM, you better be sure it works with your
existing systems. Combining a CRMs front-office data with an ERPs
back-office financials rockets your forecasting and reporting capacity
to new heights. CRMs also can be integrated with email programs, which
allow users to log conversations and input data faster. Tell your CRM
consultant about all your existing systems and ask how each would fit
with your desired CRM.
Mobile and Offline Functionality
The CRM should be available and easily navigable no matter where it’s
being accessed. Look for a CRM with an easy-to-use mobile app and
offline capabilities to accommodate even the most remote user.
Ability to Track Products After They’ve Been Sold
Once a product is sold, the account may change hands within your
organization. A good CRM will track the move from one end user to
another and allow outside information to be added to the file. For
example, taking a picture of the equipment sold via a mobile device and
uploading it to the CRM for reference.
Warranty/Case/Issue Management Capabilities
Look for a CRM that offers a knowledge base and/or customer portal
where you can collaborate with other users, find answers to questions,
submit support requests, and get the latest product news. These
additional contact points will be valuable in the long term.
Can the CRM pinpoint locations and quickly call up terms and pricing?
Think about the distributor information you want to track and whether
the solution is offering the right channels to execute it.
The right manufacturing CRM should work seamlessly with your Gmail, Outlook, Lotus Notes, or other email provider.
There are lots of contracts that need to be signed and tracked in the
manufacturing world. Make sure your CRM works with your current
eSignature solution, or that an eSignature solution can be easily added
if you so choose.
How to Get Started
If you’ve purchased software before, you are familiar with the
general process. Figure out what you need the new system to do, decide
your budget, determine a project timeline, and commit to the
implementation. As CRM consultants, we always recommend working with a
partner to find and implement new systems. You’re probably thinking,
“You would say that.” Well yes, we would, even if you don’t
choose us. Why? Because working with a consultant takes the confusion
and tedious research out of software buying. A good consultant will:
- Do a deep assessment of your business processes
- Know your industry and how that affects your CRM needs
- Be familiar with multiple software products and able to address your concerns
- Guide you through the selection and purchasing process
- Point out any hidden costs or underlying factors that may influence your budget
- Recommend integrations and personalized features to enhance your experience
- Offer a complete project plan for getting you up-and-running on the system
- Deliver online or live training to teach your teams how to use the product
- Be your point of contact for technical roadblocks and their resolutions
- Escalate issues on your behalf
- Offer complimentary educational experiences
Software systems help automate, organize, and analyze business data,
but not all systems are the same. The key to maximizing the ROI on your
investment is selecting the product with the most functionality for your
business and industry requirements. Start by ranking your most
important features to narrow your industry-specific options. Not sure
where to start? Download our Manufacturing CRM checklist as a guide.