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 - Russ Davidson, Digital Marketing Specialist at Software Connect
Your successful manufacturing company is probably most concerned with their manufacturing process or producing finished goods and fulfilling orders.
Organizing orders you’ve received is no easy task. But luckily, CRM software exists to make running your business more automated than ever before.
CRM software allows you to maximize the potential of customer relationships. Not only does it give you an integrated view of your customers and prospects, but it will enable you to nurture those relationships to get the most out of marketing, sales, and customer service efforts.
You may be asking yourself, “What role does CRM software have in a manufacturing process? Isn’t that something sales & marketing teams need to worry about?” Well sure, but you wouldn’t have anything to manufacture without your sales & marketing team finding orders for you to fulfill. And you’d be surprised just how much an efficient CRM software can help increase efficiency in the manufacturing process.
Many organizations find themselves struggling to get everyone on board, but getting approval for not only marketing automation, but a process to help increase sales and overall customer service will go along way in improving your brand.
Important CRM Software Features
There’s always a lot to consider when adding a CRM software to your manufacturing business. Perhaps the most important thing to consider is how to apply specific benefits of CRM towards your business.
Key features of CRM software include:
- Contact Management
- Opportunity/Lead Tracking
- Follow-up Scheduling
- Customer Order History
How do these features apply to a manufacturing business?
Let’s say you have a recurring customer. Over time, your manufacturing business may have developed a new product, or be on the receiving end of an acquisition that allows you to work with a variety of new materials to improve existing products. CRM lets you take existing customers and turn them into sales prospects on again. Commonly called upselling, these current customers have plenty of room for “add-ons” or any additional new products your company is offering.
A smart CRM will be able to read past orders with a customer and help identify which are potential fits for additional sales opportunities. All you need to do is ensure a connection between your CRM and your order tracking process and any product/inventory list.
One very overlooked aspect of CRM is its ability to help the production floor regarding volume. A CRM should be able to look at things like recurring orders and help establish a level of forecasting for the manufacturing floor. Many companies will want to add some percentage of growth to historical sales data to drive planning.
Accounting and ERP Aren’t Everything
A significant amount of software involved in a manufacturing business will deal with accounting or ERP (or MRP). And sure, CRM can be an inclusion in a lot of ERP packages nowadays. However, CRM needs to be able to gather, keep, and grow profitable customers. Many CRM software vendors will tell you that ERP vendors don’t understand the sales process. But why?
Most accounting software is going to allow you to store records of contacts (such as vendors you routinely purchase from, or customers you have received payments from). But trying to store prospect information into this will quickly become a mess and a headache. Now you will have not just the accountants accessing records, but also your sales and marketing staff. Accountants don’t need to be bogged down sifting through records that don’t apply to them, and your sales team should have a clean database for working sales and orders.
ERP vendors and developers are going to ask that you adjust your sales and marketing methods so their solution will work for you. Your business needs to be in the mindset of having a software that meets the way you sell and market yourself, and will help improve on that process. Why purchase a software and have a vendor tell you how you should operate your business (to make their software run the best in your business environment)? Shouldn’t you be finding a software that can expand on your already successful blueprint?
Link Your Supply, Demand, and Operations Together
Like all businesses, every gear needs to function to make the wheel turn. A cog in the wheel (a poorly executive CRM process) will make the operation run in a less ideal manner.
A CRM software option is going to help automate your marketing and sales process. Your sales team will spend less time working out software issues and more time closing out deals. These new deals will give the manufacturing team an increased workload and more business for the company.
Whether you think you can get by without one or not is up to you. But if you do decide to move forward with a CRM software, your next step would be to find the right product. The best advice is to go beyond online user reviews and ask for real-life examples of the software implementation in a manufacturing environment. You’ll be surprised how most vendors will be eager to share examples with you.