New technologies allow for better quality products and improved efficiency and safety. Just as important for manufacturers is leveraging software developments in the sales and marketing space. Sales and marketing software developments might seem distanced from the major concerns of manufacturing businesses, particularly when they already have manufacturing software. However, using outdated customer relationship management (CRM) software – or not using one at all – hampers profitability and your ability to compete with your market.

Utilizing a CRM doesn’t mean manufacturers have to abandon their current manufacturing software or invest in expensive enterprise resource planning suites like Infor, SYSPRO or Epicor. There are ways to integrate Salesforce CRM with your existing manufacturing and accounting software, while still providing much of the advantage or more expensive ERP solutions.

Improve Business with Salesforce CRM for Manufacturers

CRMs are currently the fastest-growing enterprise software, with Gartner predicting that it will be the largest area of enterprise software spending by 2021. Salesforce CRM is designed to manage all of your contacts and relationships with customers and prospects. Among other features, it stores customer and lead contact information, manages and tracks the sales process, allows you to research potential leads and carry out marketing campaigns. Anyone with permissions can access this information and create sales and marketing reports.

Salesforce is the world’s leading CRM, used by over 150,000 businesses, including 99 of the Fortune 100 companies. We recently completed a Salesforce integration, customization and training for a manufacturing firm in Canada – you can see our case study here.

4 Benefits of Salesforce CRM for Manufacturers

1. Filling in the Sales Process Gaps of Your Existing Manufacturing Software

Salesforce CRM doesn’t replace manufacturing software solutions. Your existing manufacturing software is still great for inventory management, resource scheduling, and other aspects of your business operations. Salesforce fills in the gaps that manufacturing software doesn’t address for sales and marketing use cases. For instance, manufacturers can have problems effectively managing and forecasting order demand. Legacy manufacturing software, such as JobBOSS and MiSys, does a great job at scheduling production once orders are placed. However, it is less able to help your sales team organize and coordinate on your deals and quoting process.

Salesforce CRM also makes it easier for your sales team to complete their tasks. In addition to managing contacts, it provides full-funnel sales process capabilities. Establishing a sales funnel helps to streamline and improve your sales process. This allows you to structure and formalize the sales process for your team, rather than having all your salespeople follow processes across a variety of systems. Gone are the mixed-bag of spreadsheets, post-its and various meeting notes. Once you establish a sales process, Salesforce lets you set up your sales funnel and track where customers are in the funnel. You can also utilize website and other data to get leads into this same process. Because it is a collaborative tool, this information is available to other members of the sales team. You can establish different teams for different stages and multiple teams can keep track of where a given deal is in the funnel.

2. Improved Team & Customer Communication

Running a cohesive sales unit is important. While this can be difficult within a manufacturing organization on its own, it becomes even more difficult when you have a network of partners (distributors, dealers, resellers, etc.) that need to know what you’re doing. Essentially, the left hand needs to know what the right hand is doing at all times.

By providing centralized sales process tracking, Salesforce CRM can keep everyone in the loop. This improves team communication, as team members can leave notes for each other on customer accounts and opportunities. It also improves customer communication, as all customer communication via email or phone can be centralized on the customer’s record. As a result, all team members can quickly and easily access all previous communications with the client. This provides a huge time savings by eliminating the need to dig through your inbox to find previous conversations. It also gives team members who weren’t previously cc’d on emails access to them. You can also extend access to the relevant parts of your business to partners. This allows you to centralize pricing and inventory, avoid conflicts by coordinating lead distribution, and track and rank partner performance.

Salesforce CRM’s centralization also has benefits for customer communication. To begin with, it integrates sales and marketing contacts. They’re all in the same place and any information added by one part of your company is there for others. Because it keeps track of communications, you can also track the last interaction you’ve had with the customer and reach out if need be. As you accumulate more data about customers, it will also be stored in the contact record. You can then segment this data in order to personalize communications based on what website pages customers have visited or what products they bought. Beyond this, Salesforce allows your team to send emails directly from the customer’s record in the CRM. However, if your team prefers to answer all customer emails in Outlook, there is a handy Outlook plugin that can add customers to Salesforce with a couple of clicks. There are also a wide variety of telephone integrations with Salesforce that allow the sales team to call and receive calls directly from the CRM.

3. Salesforce CRM Integrates with Quickbooks & Other Accounting Software

Beyond the sales and marketing limitations, we’ve found that most manufacturing companies have difficulties smoothly integrating their accounting processes with their manufacturing software. Salesforce solves this problem through third party integrations with your accounting software. Effectively, this means each piece of software (manufacturing, accounting, and sales) can focus on what it does best. In practice, your sales team can send quotes out of Salesforce, which will immediately show up in Quickbooks or other accounting software. This will act as a bridge by turning estimates into invoices and passing them along to your manufacturing software. These invoices can also be passed back to Salesforce when a deal is completed with a customer so your sales team can match estimates to fully closed sales.

Salesforce provides powerful integration options through Salesforce AppExchange, which includes more than 5000 apps and integrations. When deciding whether Salesforce CRM is right for your business, explore AppExchange before you have expensive software custom built.

4. Powerful Sales Reporting Capabilities for Manufacturers

Your business plan should ask questions about the successes and shortcomings of busines performance. This is one of the main reasons Salesforce CRM is good for manufacturers. It collects the data you need to answer those questions with its powerful reporting capabilities. With reports, you can easily track information about your top selling products, highest value leads, and the effects of your marketing campaigns, as well as infinite combinations of cross-tabulated data. This type of analytics is key to helping you understand your own sales and marketing processes. It will give you a better idea of whether you are meeting your goals, and how you might go about changing things to better achieve them. It’s important to note that realizing full reporting potential requires Salesforce Enterprise or a higher version, as there are limitations on what you can do with other licenses.

Practice Makes Perfect

Salesforce CRM is, for manufacturers, a great way to better organize the sales process. However, it will be worthless if your team doesn’t know how to use it or don’t use it to its full capacities. Consequently, training for every level of your sales team is key. You’ll need to provide detailed instructions for common tasks to make sure everyone follows how to complete tasks. But practice does make perfect and it will help to have some hands-on training. Rather than jumping in with new deals and risking errors, it is beneficial to have salespeople recreate their recent orders from the old manufacturing software in Salesforce. It’s also important to be open to feedback. While Salesforce comes with out-of-box functionality, it is also customizable. If your sales team finds aspects of the out-of-box settings aren’t working for them, make changes to help them better and more efficiently do their jobs.

RFDM & Integrating Salesforce into Your Manufacturing Business

For more information on Salesforce CRM for manufacturers, or for help integrating Salesforce into your existing software systems, please contact us for a free consultation.

Interested in a Free Consulation?

Book Now