Globally, with every industry, from financial firms to e-commerce companies, shifting their focus to building customer-centric businesses, manufacturing is not very far behind. For one, a few years ago, manufacturing and production, as a process, was largely reactive; i.e. based on customer needs. And two, the ERP system served as the company’s shared repository of customer information.
But, as companies and customers become more digitally-savvy, and the lines between a manufacturer, distributor/retailer and the end customer blur, the traditional processes will no longer fit the bill.
Reactive vs proactive approach to addressing customer needs
Adopting a reactive approach increases the time spent between conceptualizing and bringing a product to market. With extensive data available today about what customers want, it becomes increasingly imperative for manufacturers to be proactive in forecasting demanding and producing products in a timely manner.
Marketing & sales data present in silos
While an ERP system provides a real-time view into the entire business process, linking different functions such as operations, finance, order processing, shipping, sales and marketing, and more, customer data is still available only in silos. For example, a salesperson in a manufacturing company may be storing prospect data and opportunities in a spreadsheet, storing activity history in emails, phone calls and notes, and tracking deal progress in another software.
Limited sales journey
Producing a product and catering to a customer’s need doesn’t just end with creating a sale. The journey extends to establishing a good relationship with the customer to a) get repeat orders, b) to gain loyalty, and c) to gain more business opportunities. The lack of an after-sale service or support mechanism also means there isn’t a process in place to gather feedback from the customer about the quality of the product and relay it back to the planning and production teams.
In such a scenario, what is the best way for manufacturers to key in customer centricity in every aspect of their business process?
Adopting a Customer Relationship Management Software.
A manufacturing CRM software fits seamlessly into your business framework and offers everything the teams within the company need to build customer centricity, improve productivity and boost revenues.
And it really needn’t burn your pockets, like the new-age ERP systems with built-in CRM software do. An ideal CRM can help you store, track and leverage customer data, manage your sales process, and track your entire sales journey in an intuitive manner, while also being light on your pockets.
If you’re wondering about the CRM adoption rates, take a look at these numbers culled out from Manufacturing.net and the Manufacturing Business Technology Survey; 41.1% of manufacturers world over are currently using a CRM software or are in the process of implementing one.
Your leads or prospects might be coming in from different sources; tenders, public listings, referrals or more. You can simply add them as a lead into Freshsales CRM, or if you are targeting specific divisions of a parent company, you can create a parent account for the larger company, and create child accounts for specific divisions of the company you are pursuing.
Once you’ve added the prospect into the CRM, you get a 360-degree view of your prospect in one single place, be it their past activity history with your company, or their past interactions with your salespersons over email, phone or direct meetings.
In fact, a modern manufacturing CRM software like Freshsales even enables users to add notes relevant to each customer, setup tasks and appointments, and upload necessary files right within the CRM.
Once your prospect is qualified, you can assign them to relevant salespersons in specific territories.
The automated territory management feature in Freshsales CRM provides several benefits to sales managers. One, it eliminates the complex process involved in manually assigning leads to sales teams. Instead, you can auto-assign leads in a round-robin manner, assign phone numbers and transfer calls to territories, and even limit territory access. Two, it enables you to classify territories based on geography, deal size, business type or more. And three, it helps sales teams prioritize on leads they need to go after, and potentially close more deals.
Once your prospects enter into the deal stage, you can view which deal stage each prospect is in, and even move them across different stages effortlessly. A visual sales pipeline helps you easily track where your prospects stand, who needs to be pursued on priority and help you determine where to focus your efforts better.
You can even create multiple deals pipelines; for tracking the prospect’s journey from initial contact to sale, for after-sale service process, for processing payments and more.
A holistic manufacturing CRM software like Freshsales also enables salespeople to trigger conversations with and collaborate across teams right within the deal page. For example, a salesperson can initiate a discussion on a particular deal and add relevant employees across finance, production, or order processing to engage in a conversation about specific aspects; be it a customer requirement, a clause, a negotiation or more.
A sales management CRM software like Freshsales can help teams reduce time spent on manual tasks, and instead focus their efforts on serving their customers better. Manufacturers can set up workflows to move prospects or customers across different deal stages or pipelines, for assigning territories, for setting reminders for payments and much more.
Which sources are you getting the most leads from? How many contracts are you winning every year? Which region or industry are you getting the most contracts from? How many high-paying customers do you have? How are your sales teams performing? Track and compare these and more metrics right within the CRM with reports and dashboards.
Being proactive in understanding and catering to your customer needs doesn’t just help you build better products and boost your revenues, but also helps you create an edge with your competitors. With Freshsales CRM, get complete, end-to-end visibility into your customer’s journey, secure valuable data on your sales teams’ performance, collaborate with teams across the company to work towards a customer-centric goal, and always stay two steps ahead in the game.
“Over time, Insightly seemed like a basic contact management system, and it didn’t offer much to improve our sales practice. After a while, we practically used it as nothing more than a database. We didn’t really know all the features we needed until we discovered Freshsales. So many new and beneficial features, like email tracking and lead scoring (which was entirely new and fascinating). The bulk editing within the application is a huge time-saver for our campaigns.”
“For a business like ours with an anticipated high-velocity sales, you only want to make a sales CRM decision once. We explored multiple CRMs before choosing Freshsales. Pipedrive had limited capabilities; we weren’t able to easily track our customer journey end-to-end and spot our best leads. Salesforce was way too complex in addition to being expensive. With Freshsales, the interface is straightforward, we get deeper visibility into our sales pipeline and we’re able to generate powerful reports — in one hassle-free package.”
“With Freshsales reporting features, we’ve cut down the time taken to generate reports by 60%. Using the sales CRM, we’re able to generate reports anytime and summarize information 10X faster than before. This has immensely improved our productivity. The deal pipeline in Freshsales is also extremely advantageous. Its quick access features—sort, filter, drag and drop, phone, email, tasks—are helping us close deals faster.”