Businesses in the manufacturing industry need to stick to what they’re good at, right? There’s no need to focus on anything other than production, distribution and the supply chain. Let digital marketing firms worry about things like “marketing automation” and “customer relationship management (CRM).” If you’ve found yourself saying any of those things, you’re in for a rude awakening.
Just because companies generally focus on their particular industry doesn’t mean that they can’t benefit from using supposedly “unrelated” software. On the contrary, they almost always find a plethora of benefits, both expected and unexpected. Such is the case with manufacturing CRM systems.
Since the manufacturing industry is as large as it is, many CRM software providers have created tailored solutions for manufacturers. These solutions provide manufacturers with capabilities they never had before, as well as improve business processes they didn’t know could be improved. If you’re not exactly inclined to adopt manufacturing CRM, first consider what it can do for you:
Benefits of Manufacturing CRM
Improved Customer Service
One of the main reasons CRM solutions exist in the first place is to help improve customer service. No matter what industry your business is in, CRM can help. Retaining customers, in particular your biggest customers, starts with ensuring consistent customer satisfaction. And when your customers aren’t satisfied, you need to be proactive in addressing their concerns in order to make them happy again.
One crucial area of customer service that CRM improves is the organization of data. When a customer calls in, you don’t want to put them on hold for 10 minutes as your phone rep searches high and low for what should be a simple, basic answer.
For example, if a customer wants to know a quick history of warranty claims over the last quarter, your phone reps will doubtfully be able to recite that off of the top of their head. By giving them a manufacturing CRM, they can look up that information in seconds and quickly relay it to the customer.
Better Identification of HQLs
Better sales processes means more customers, and more customers means more money. But better sales processes also means you have to find and identify not only more leads, but better ones. Manufacturing CRM systems help you do just that.
Identifying high quality leads (HQLs) is another CRM feature used by businesses in every industry, for the reasons mentioned above. When your sales team tries to find new distributors and/or retailers to partner with, they need to focus on those that are most likely to actually convert. The worst thing to do in sales is to blindly throw darts at the proverbial dartboard.
After marketing to your various leads, your manufacturing CRM tracks their responses and interactions. With this data in hand, it identifies which leads have had positive sales calls and/or opened several marketing emails. Your sales team then knows to target those leads, since they’ve shown interest in your business that’s likely to turn into a sale.
Better Sales Projections
Accurately predicting what’ll happen in the future is one of the hardest parts of any job — just ask your local weatherman. Luckily for your sales team, manufacturing CRM software can do most of that work for them. CRMs track all of the orders that your customers place, so you have a full record of what each customer ordered, how much it cost and when it was placed.
Using these records, a CRM system can help create accurate sales projections. First, it finds the buying patterns of each customer, such as peak times and down times. Then it finds the longer-term trends, such as year-over-year sales increases or decreases. Finally, it takes all of this into account and creates accurate sales projections that you can use for future planning.
Better Planning for the Future
Speaking of future planning, those sales projections help more than just your sales team plan for the year ahead. They also help in your production planning efforts.
After all, you base what you produce on what you sell. If you don’t know what you think you’ll sell, production planning becomes a string of wild shots in the dark. But by using sales projections, which include the amounts of each product ordered and when they were ordered, you can create a detailed production plan of how much of each product you should make, and when.
Those sales projections have a trickle down effect. By helping production planning they, in turn, help budgeting. When you have a detailed production plan laid out for the year, you can properly budget based on the corresponding production costs. And with a proper budget in hand, you can better plan for future hires, equipment upgrades and more.
Here’s yet another result of the trickle down effect of sales projections. When you know your customers’ buying patterns, you can leverage that data to increase your sales. Some of the biggest findings this data reveals are the peak order times and down times for each customer.
Your sales team can then use this information in upselling and cross-selling. Specifically, during certain customers’ peak ordering times, you can contact them to cross-sell extra products, since you know that they’ll be buying anyway. Additionally, you can try to upsell during their slower times, to try to increase their order frequency during those slower periods. And if upselling doesn’t work, then offering something as simple as a discount can give a boost to your sales numbers.
What To Do Now?
So now you know more about the benefits of manufacturing CRM systems; what comes next? If you want to look more into CRM selection, start by looking at a full list of CRM features. This will give you a better idea of what to expect from your average CRM software vendor. Then, start looking at potential solutions. We suggest taking a look at Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics and Base CRM to start, as they have specific modules and features made just for manufacturers. If you need any other advice, check out our 52 software selection tips to guide you through the process. Happy CRM selection!