Maintaining Customer Centricity in the Face of Manufacturing Industry Pressures

December 17, 2019 / By Seth Werlinsky

Automotive manufacturers treat millions of gallons of water each year with chemistry to help clean and prep the car body prior to painting. The make-up of the water has significant outcomes on process efficiency and product quality.

An experienced chemical supplier sales rep will know the important factors that impact which solutions to recommend, such as the water source (i.e., city or groundwater), discharge regulations, and production requirements at that specific plant. This information is plant-specific and can only be gained with an intimate knowledge of the customer’s operations, often after years of experience, so the rep can tailor solutions to keep their customer’s operations running smoothly. I know one rep that has been selling to the same plant for over 30 years!

This has been the status quo for decades. But, what happens when the rep changes? This is happening with increasing frequency as a new generation of sellers are entering the workforce. How is that knowledge transferred? If that knowledge is lost along with critical information about the customer, the supplier risks slowing down their customer’s production, impacting quality, or even causing a complete shutdown.

The repercussions of an impending salesforce knowledge gap are even greater when one considers the expectations of today’s buyers. Companies like Amazon and Google that have mastered hyper-personalization have made it so that B2B buyers are unwilling to compromise on inaccurate or cookie-cutter messages that are in stark contrast to the buying experiences they enjoy in their personal lives. According to The State of Enterprise Sales Enablement, 2019, 88 percent of people believe that buyers expect more relevant and personalized information today than they did five years ago.

A reliance on tribal knowledge, isolated relationships built over the years, and one-to-one communication is not scalable. In the same way production lines and shop floors are in the throes of Industry 4.0, manufacturers’ front offices are undergoing their own digital transformation. They are relying on technology to deliver a new level of highly-personalized customer-centric service.

Next-generation content platforms are helping to facilitate knowledge transfer from seasoned sales pros to those that are less experienced while boosting the sales and the customer experience. Equipped with the right tools, newer reps can get up to speed on technical products and complicated environments, allowing them to become trusted advisors like their experienced colleagues more quickly.

Consider the chemical supplier sales rep example through this lens. Content that is categorized and easily searchable by industries, regions, and operating conditions, and accessible to sellers from anywhere on any device, would mean information about a plant’s operating conditions is easily referenced by a new sales rep walking into a meeting after taking over when his or her predecessor retired. In this way, the rep’s ramp-up period is significantly shorter, and the customer receives much less of a dip in the service and experience he or she is used to.

Content management technology with artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning capabilities could suggest content for a new sales rep to send to his or her automotive prospect based on prior selling situations or a new regulation that is sure to affect that company. With this, the sales rep is establishing credibility with a new contact and laying the foundation for possible upsell and cross-sell opportunities.

Other features of next-generation content platforms like delivery automation and analytics that show how recipients are engaging with sent content are making it so manufacturers can not only maintain relationships built with customers over the years but exceed their expectations of hyper-personalized and tailored conversations. Already, customer-centricity is a priority for almost 75 percent of manufacturers this year. Content management technology helps make this achievable despite external pressures that could otherwise expose workplace and buyer expectation gaps

To learn more, download our whitepaper “From Connected Machines to Connected Content: The Missing Link in Digital Manufacturing.”


This is a guest post. We welcome guest posts about helping manufacturers increase sales and/or advance their marketing function. Send in your idea and you too could be a guest blogger on MMG.

Guest blogger - Seth Werlinsky, Sr. Product Marketing Manager, Seismic 

Manufacturing Marketing Group Louisville, CO US 303-953-4361