Manufacturers are usually in the pursuit of ensuring uninterrupted production, optimum inventory levels, reducing order-to-cash time, increased labor and machine utilization, increase in margins and profits. It is a constant case of fire-fighting and the focus automatically shifts to achieving these goals. In this process, the main focus of streamlining and automating the Sales funnel takes a back seat. With a robust Customer Relationship Management (CRM) integrated within an advanced ERP software, manufacturers can automate their sales cycle, increase sales management efficiency for improved and speedy cash flows.

How do manufacturers operate their business without a proper CRM system?

  1. Due to lack of a centralized system, manufacturers often maintain their sales and customer data in the below forms,
  2. Lead generation and prospect/opportunity information are stored in spreadsheets and notebooks
  3. Customer contact information are usually maintained in notebooks, visiting cards, Outlook or Gmail.
  4. Schedules such as prospect meetings/calls are maintained in diaries, Google or Outlook Calendars
  5. Sales and accounting data are maintained in an ERP (without a dedicated CRM module)

In short, everything pertaining to customer sales are stored in multiple silos that do not have the capability of interacting with each other and share data. This leads to uncontrolled chaos where the sales team tries to maintain every platform storing these data and the information within it with a risk of it being misplaced or forgotten.

Imagine a scenario where a $500,000 order is on hold because a sales person couldn’t get his hands on a vital lead information due to accidental deletion of data from a spreadsheet or misplaced notepad that carried the information.

What changes with a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system?

Improved Customer Service

A CRM module is designed to improve customer service apart from all other purposes such as lead tracking, data centralization and easy data retrieval. Imagine sales reps having all customer information on their fingertips and providing vital data to customers in no time. Be it customers calling for a product repair/service, warranty related info, or placing a re-order, their queries are answered quickly thereby saving precious time. Quick data retrieval and providing vital information in less time improves customer service levels thereby ensuring customer retention.

Improved Lead Management

The sustenance of a manufacturer depends on how they acquire new opportunities from various sources and develop them into a full-fledged sales order. Opportunities come in the form of calls, emails, from social media accounts and through buy/contact forms on e-commerce portal and company website/campaign landing pages respectively.

Apart from the usual functions such as enabling sales reps to record lead data, lead conversion monitoring etc. a CRM module provides a complete 360-degree view of lead data that helps them to distinguish High Quality Leads (HQLs) from the rest. The CRM tracks interactions and responses from HQLs. This ensures that critical focus and marketing efforts are driven towards these HQLs to convert them into full fledged sales orders.

A CRM module not only helps identify the entire spectrum of leads but also increase the quality of leads for efficient sales and order management.

Improved Sales Numbers

Selling without knowing what customers want is like throwing darts in the dark. With a CRM module, manufacturers can know whom to sell by arriving at HQLs as mentioned above. They can conduct in depth analysis and find out what marketing strategy, source medium worked in what areas (location, industry segment, demographics), so that they can be replicated further to get more leads. For each customer, you can arrive at buying patterns, peak order times, down times and leverage the same to proactively get in touch with them and procure repeat orders. Understanding customers develops a bond of trust and a recurring source of revenue.

Improved Production Forecasting

When the shop floor knows what they have to manufacture in what quantity and deliver at what time, production becomes a smooth sail. This is possible only when the production planners and shop floor supervisors know how many sales orders are at their perusal. A CRM module opens up information avenues such as total number of leads, HQLs or potential sales orders, repeat orders etc. Using this, production planners can devise their plan well in advance and ensure sufficient raw materials, machines and manpower are available.

Post Sales Customer Service

The job of serving customers doesn’t end at the time of selling the product to customers. It actually starts at that point of time. A CRM module can be used to store vital product information that a prospect/customer buys such as, product type, serial number, configuration, price, order date, shipment date, warranty details etc. This information is a gold mine for support staff who can instantly retrieve relevant information when a customer calls for a query, repair or any other grievance, create a support ticket and tag it along with the relevant product. This tracking system helps manufacturers to study the service history of their products, product issue and solution offered. They can improve the service quality as well as product quality by analyzing product issues and fixing it for future products.

CRM and ERP

An advanced ERP software offering an end-to-end CRM system is the right tonic for manufacturers. An integrated CRM-ERP system ensures that sales reps have the visibility of,

  1. Available inventory at all times
  2. Available machines and manpower in full working capacity
  3. Total Sales Orders that have been converted into Work Orders
  4. Work Order allocation and job progress
  5. Total day-to-day customer shipments
  6. Total Request for Quotation (RFQ)
  7. Procurement orders from suppliers
  8. And many more

These information enables them to arrive at future sales forecast and predict the total approximate production volume the shop floor can handle at any given point of time. This prediction becomes a vital data to plan and schedule production, procure goods from suppliers, efficiently manufacture products without burdening manpower and machines, and successfully delivering products to customers just in time.

Conclusion

An ERP integrated with a CRM module is a boon for manufacturers. It provides a complete 360 degree view of their customer-interaction and helps the organization to stay customer-centric at all times. Every customer-related data is located in a centralized location and accessible by the entire enterprise thereby ensuring that everyone speaks only a single language. Apart from this, efficiency of the sales management team improves. They have more time to analyze and derive sales trends which enables them to target and re-target prospects in a way that guarantees sales conversion. Overall, optimum utilization of CRM can reap immense benefits for manufacturers.

Streamline your sales funnel and improve customer satisfaction with OmegaCube ERP’s powerful CRM functionality.