Pre-pandemic, the day-to-day use of a CRM for manufacturing companies in many sectors amounted to an expensive Rolodex: a quick way to look up contact information.
But the COVID-19 pandemic hit the manufacturing industry hardback in 2020. Businesses of every size and in every niche suffered major supply chain shortages—particularly companies depending on international trade—and social distancing requirements forced numerous sites to close their doors for months on end, if not permanently.
In the two years since the industry has recovered, some businesses are flourishing more than ever. How? Certainly, the pandemic has not lightened up, and thus neither have most of its accompanying restrictions.
Simply put, the past few years’ events have forced the industry to evolve, effectively changing the way manufacturing companies do business. Given that Industry 4.0 and the smart factory were already a significant rising force in the pre-pandemic market, we can see this evolution as entirely natural, albeit unexpectedly accelerated by a decade or more.
The obvious examples are remote sales and—when applicable—remote work. Sales reps had to find alternatives to face-to-face meetings quickly to continue consulting prospective clients, developing new business, and nurturing existing relationships.
But the key shift, as in virtually every industry, has been a greater-than-ever emphasis on customer satisfaction. Indeed, a seamless cross-channel customer experience and knowledgeable, personalized customer service are key competitive differentiators in a world where clients will readily pay more for a brand that goes the extra mile.
As such, the secret ingredient to many companies’ success has been customized CRM software. For manufacturing businesses at every scale, managing cross-channel sales efficiently and gaining deep insight into individual customer behavior empowers them to offer their clients a competitive, loyalty-building brand experience.
Manufacturing businesses often have to manage a diverse client base of both direct and indirect customers across numerous sales and partner channels. This problem is significantly compounded when the company has multiple facilities with a statewide, provincial, or national footprint.
Every one of the prospects, partners, suppliers, and repeat business clients in each of these channels has unique sets of data: contact information, sales, and referral histories, customized price offerings, service tickets, event registration, campaign engagement, and more.
All this accumulated data has the potential to offer incredibly rich insight into your customer base, down to the client-specific level. But frequently, it ends up siloed across so many locations that anyone looking for particular information has to check several system databases, employee hard drives, spreadsheets, pdfs, and even email threads—as well as all physical files kept at the company’s various facilities.
Custom-designed CRM software for manufacturing businesses streamlines all this information into a central repository, offering you a “single source of truth,” or 360-degree view of your customer data. Manufacturers can view, manage and run analytics on their customers with simple, user-friendly tools that require no coding or special technical knowledge.
Across all sectors, manufacturing businesses are diversifying their sales channels. Beyond the scope of digital transformation and the new opportunities it presents, manufacturers are partnering with dealers, distributors, wholesalers, and product installation and maintenance specialists to reach a wider market of potential end users and repeat business than ever.
Efficiently managing all this requires an omnichannel approach in order to ensure your customers have a consistent experience of your brand. A multi-channel approach—one which treats each channel as distinct, with its own growth strategy and UX—too easily results in situations where, for instance, the sales team is offering a promotion that the marketing and service teams aren’t even aware of.
Once again, the solution for omnichannel sales management is CRM software. For manufacturing companies, their long sales cycles are often proportionate to the complexity of product development and assembly, particularly when a great deal of coordination is needed among the various stakeholders. An omnichannel approach ensures that your customers have a coherent experience of your brand as they engage with different channels in real time.
A CRM simplifies the flow of information by tracking interactions and providing a 360-degree view all the way from the factory floor through lead escalation to post-sale support.
At the same time, each active channel you manage presents the two-pronged challenge of maximizing sales growth while lowering operational costs. A CRM empowers you to root out and eliminate hidden costs at every stage of your production and sales cycles and can monitor your infrastructure continues to identify potential savings.
CRM software for manufacturing facilitates quick, detailed communication between your teams: production, marketing, sales, and support. This allows your marketing team to design laser-pointed, data-driven campaigns powered by insight into:
A CRM for manufacturing also allows you to automate many of your marketing efforts—reaching out to leads you haven’t heard back from, following up with existing clients, remarketing with complex nurture drip campaigns, and more.
Properly-configured CRM software provides your business with a 360-degree view of each of your customers’ purchases throughout their life cycle. Particularly for manufacturing companies who develop personalized, long-term relationships with customers, this past data gives you a reliable way to forecast your customers’ future activity.
To take a simple example, if you know that a certain client makes a large purchase every three months, you can organize your production timeline to accommodate repeat business from this customer—guaranteeing that you will have enough for their order as well as enough additional inventory for other customers who may be buying in the same period.
This obviously also translates to major cost savings when you are able to coordinate the flow of incoming supplies with outgoing orders, reducing the number of items in storage or on backorder. But it’s also a key customer service differentiator when you know your clients well enough to be ready for their recurring orders.
A custom-designed CRM for manufacturing also empowers businesses to manage demand forecasting, helping them estimate how much supply must be ordered for the next business cycle.
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are specific metrics businesses use to gauge how well they are doing in various sectors of activity.
Digital marketing teams, for example, look at the Cart Abandonment Rate to determine how often customers fail to complete their orders. A high abandonment rate often points to issues with the checkout process, which the marketing team then knows to improve.
The manufacturing industry has numerous KPIs, and specially-configured CRM software for manufacturing gives quick, detailed insight into these metrics, which include:
How much product is your business selling? One clear way to measure this is the volume of inventory that you have sold in a given period.
Again, all of this data already exists in the systems and databases of manufacturing companies everywhere. The problem is identifying, viewing, comparing, and analyzing this data efficiently. A CRM for manufacturing pulls it all into a central repository from which it can offer high-powered insight into all aspects of your company’s performance.
Just as with sales, production, and marketing, a CRM for manufacturing greatly benefits the workdays of your service and support team.
As we mentioned earlier, customer service has become a chief competitive differentiator in the post-COVID world. Digitally savvy and product-educated clients choose again and again to do business with the brands they trust—and that begins with exceptional customer service.
So, for instance, when a support technician has a customer’s entire history in front of them, it becomes much easier to identify potential issues. But naturally, quality service goes far beyond dealing with post-sale problems.
Again, the idea is to create a cohesive, omnichannel customer experience for your brand. Each interaction you have with a client, from every department and at every stage of the customer lifecycle, can be easily streamlined, tailored, and updated with live data to reflect a 360-degree view of your ongoing relationship with that client.
Furthermore, you maximize each customer’s lifetime value by learning their behavior and forecasting which new products and services they may be interested in based on repeat business, as well as identifying cross-sell and upsell opportunities, personalizing promotions for them, and more.
The marketing automation capabilities of CRM software for manufacturing make all of this even simpler. Want to offer a client a coupon to thank them for their loyalty? You can send one automatically at a customizable spend threshold. Did the coupon bring them back? Send them another when they haven’t purchased in a while.
All of this and more is possible with a customized CRM for manufacturing. If you’d like to know more, check out our CRM solutions for manufacturing!