If the much publicized “Make in India” is to be brought into realization, then finding buyers for the manufactured product is necessary. Just manufacturing on its own will not lead to economic growth- it will only come when those goods are sold. CRM, i.e. Customer Relationship Management is one way we could make the difference between success and failure, but the manufacturing sector is different from other industries. Thus, what may work for other sectors, may not work for an industry driven by engineers, component suppliers, and fabricators.
Fighting back against competition by just adjusting cost is not feasible. A race to the bottom does not drive growth. Thus, before dropping your prices look for other weapons in your arsenal. Low-cost imports mostly do not come with the same level of customer care that a local provider can deliver. They rarely provide ‘Just in Time’ delivery services, because of the absence of local presence.
Customer relationships are they crucial determinant of whether a customer makes a purchase or not. In this area, CRM software can give you a lead over your competitors.
What is lacking in the Manufacturing sales departments?
Consider the amount of time spent on production modeling techniques and process flows that companies use to increase their manufacturing processes. When was the last time, that amount of time and effort was applied to sale processes?
For most manufacturers, that answer would be resounding ‘never’. It is quite apparent, that most of the time sales is not given the attention it needs. While disciplines like lean manufacturing, Six Sigma or Kaizen have revolutionized manufacturing, sales in manufacturing companies have been the same. What CRM brings into play for manufacturing businesses is to expose sales to the same level of observation.
Why manufacturers need CRM
One piece of information that manufacturers are always looking to polish-up and accurately forecast is their production levels.
CRM system always has helped with sales forecasting, however, with manufacturing especially, the sales department can offer some key pieces of data that can estimate how much volume the production floor will be handling in the coming days, week, month or any other measure of time.
A CRM system is designed to help with new leads- all the while nurturing existing customer relationships. One example of CRM use case is that it can track order history with the content management feature and set milestones for the best way of doing a follow-up in the CRM. This way the sales team can create the best position to forecast future sales and therefore, the production levels as well. Other examples of using CRM would be to assist in ensuring that appropriate of people are staffed or for detecting whether enough raw material is available in the inventory or if all machines are working properly in any “high stress” periods.
Meanwhile, even in non-sales functions- CRM can assist manufacturers ideally. Like for e.g., a manufacturer has a number of hydraulic press machines on the floor. While most manufacturing software allows to have maintenance-tracking on these machines, but a CRM will be able to keep prospects for activities- like technician’s work. Thus, not only will a CRM assist in tracking sales, but it can also help sales department to prospect and attain quotes or contract info from various companies in the vicinity that may be able to help with emergency breakdowns or failures.
Why not ERP with integrated CRM functionality?
Often manufacturers look to ERP systems to provide CRM functionality. While in some cases this may work, though, in truth, it often doesn’t. The problem with implementing ERP with CRM functionality is they attempt to apply analytic disciplines to processes that are intuitive in nature and not structured.
ERP systems are created with increasing business efficiency in mind, through better processes and smooth workflows. Meanwhile, CRM aims for a similar result but by using a different approach- they solely focus on the customer.
Integrated ERP may offer customer relationship management qualities, so companies think they can just get by with a database of sales records in their order management module (includes past/current orders, shipping information etc.) or with tracking customer information through a customer list in their accounts receivable. However, using the system to the effect it was not designed for can prove unfruitful.
It can be time-consuming for the sales team to sift through different areas of the system to get the information needed for sales.
Anyhow, there is still the need to integrate the information – which ERPs contain- in order to make the maximum use of the CRM. Fortunately, there are CRM consultants and developers that can make you the best ERP-CRM integration solution or even build you a customized system.
The aim of CRM is to gather all information related to customers available from the company’s business system to increase the potential of customer relationships. An integrated system offering information about prospects and customers help you get the most out of marketing and sales efforts due to a more personalized approach- which in turn, maximizes business efficiency.