CRMs are a great tool to help you manage customer relationships — including managing customer information, leads and opportunities, and deals, quotes and order status — to create better customer experiences.
But many manufacturers think they don’t need one. The manufacturing industry has evolved to be much more customer-centric over the last few years, and a CRM is an invaluable tool to help manufacturers be more organized, sell more products, and create happier customers.
Remind me, what is a CRM?
CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management and is a software tool that helps companies organize all of their interactions with both potential and current customers. CRMs are robust tools to help manage the sales process, and also let manufacturers:
- Keep track of customers and their order history
- Identify business opportunities and new sales leads
- Streamline the sales process and reduce repetitive work
- Facilitate better support for current customers
The top 5 reasons why manufacturers need a CRM.
1. Better Close Rates & Sales Performance
A CRM lets you centralize all your sales conversations in one place, meaning your sales team will be able to manage all accounts, leads, opportunities and communications within one system, and no more missed deals or opportunities because information got lost in the shuffle.
Well documented information about a lead or client also helps build a relationship, trust, and respect — all which improve chances of closing a deal with a new client, or re-upping or upselling to an existing customer.
The bottom line is that a more organized sales team, and a better managed sales pipeline will lead to increased performance by your sales team and more closed deals.
2. Increased Customer Satisfaction & Loyalty
A CRM isn’t a valuable tool just for potential customers, it’s also a valuable tool for managing the relationship you have with your current customers.
Having more information about your customers can help you communicate more regularly and effectively with them, which will lead to a stronger relationship. You will also be able to better respond to customer inquiries about current orders, as all customer and job information will be easily accessible through the CRM.
When customer support is strong, and the customer relationship is well nurtured, a customer will tend to report higher degrees of satisfaction, and heightened loyalty.
What does this translate to for you? More repeat business and loyal clients who will return to you again and again for their needs.
3. Better Demand Forecasting
A CRM will also help your sales team forecast future sales growth based on their pipeline of potential deals. A better understanding of all of your potential deals, means you know what jobs your shop has now, but also what jobs will be coming your way.
A CRM system provides you with a real-time sales forecast. Based on this data, the rest of your shop can better plan, schedule and allocate resources earlier — rather than waiting until an order is placed by a customer.
Better production planning lets you stay on top of your shop, and makes it easier to deal with any potential problems early on, ensuring a smoother pace of production, and more deals delivered on time.
4. Greater Supply Chain Visibility
A manufacturing CRM can also help you better understand and manage your supply chain.
Coupling the sales forecast data from your CRM with detailed and useful insights about operations, inventory management, order processing, warehousing, and distribution chains from your ERP allows for better production planning and supply chain management.
This level of enhanced visibility, catalyzed by the presence of a CRM, is often referred to as an “intelligent supply chain”.
Having an intelligent supply chain can empower you to better manage production schedules and inventory levels, as well as give you a leg up in purchasing and procuring materials.
(Looking for more information on how to improve your purchasing? Check out our blog here on how to use your ERP to improve purchasing processes.)
5. Product Quality Improvements
A CRM can also give you insights into what your customers think about your products, and how you can improve quality and consistency.
Having a more direct line to your end users will give you a stronger feedback mechanism for tweaking your product to better suit the market’s needs.
A CRM leads to better communication with your customers, which means more feedback from them about your products, which translates to more rapid and effective product improvements.
Bonus Tip: Get a Connected CRM
A CRM is an indispensable tool for managing the sales process, but without being fully connected with your ERP, it will not be an effective tool for complex custom manufacturers.
Your ERP system is the backbone of your manufacturing operation, so you need a CRM that connects to — or better yet — is a part of your ERP system. A connected CRM means not only do you save time by not having to duplicate information between your two systems, but also that your sales team will have access to price lists, past deals, and your product configurator tool — as well as will make it easy for them to create a quote.
Creating quick and accurate quotes is always a challenge for complex, custom manufacturers, but a fully integrated CRM system keeps your sales teams in the loop. They can use historical data, price lists, and past deals to create quotes. Or if a product is more complex, they can quickly bring engineering into the process, to develop and refine quotes to meet customers’ needs.
A CRM is a great tool for manufacturers to help them build stronger customer relationships, as well as create accurate sales forecasts that let you better plan and manage your shop. With manufacturing — and custom manufacturing especially — becoming more and more customer-centric, it’s important for manufacturers to have an efficient and effective way to manage their customer relationships.
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