JUL 10 BY HEATHER WEIR
Sales and Manufacturing: Enable Modern Sales Teams
Manufacturing is experiencing a customer-focused revolution. On the global side, this means manufacturers are ramping up innovation in an effort to develop and produce more sophisticated offerings. High-margin growth is the ultimate endgame.
In addition, manufacturers are working to build a closer, seamless, and collaborative relationship with customers. Demand for real-time sales information has never been higher, as is the need for a hyper-responsive global supply chain. As a response to this transformation, actionable insights and data are essential for successful business decision-making.
Still, most companies are too distracted to keep up and give customers what they want. Below are some of the common challenges companies face and some solid solutions around the technology that manufacturers should adopt to help their sales teams compete in the new landscape.
The Common Challenges
In the broadest sense, there are a number of key challenges being shared across the manufacturing industry:
Margin Pressure. Due to fierce global competition that is only increasing over time, profit margins continue to be squeezed for manufacturers, whether small or large.
Lack of Skilled Talent. The manufacturing workforce is aging, yet the industry is failing when it comes to drawing from the new talent pool of up and comers. Millennials, in particular, when considering where they want to place their bets in terms of a career, this industry has not been a top choice.
No 360° View. While speed is the new currency across the manufacturing industry, processes remain disconnected at many companies. Customer information is often siloed due to spreadsheets, legacy environments, and disparate tools.
Inaccurate Sales/Demand Forecasting. Another common challenge, across today’s manufacturing industry, is the inability to efficiently manage order and demand forecasting. This means there is difficulty lining up what the market is dictating with what customers have and need.
Limited Channel Visibility. A big market and opportunity for manufacturers is that of the reseller. Yet without visibility into the best path through their networks to distributors, such opportunities tend to stall. Manufacturers have a hard time collaborating with resellers and thus find it difficult to forecast what product needs will be.
The Innovation Solutions
We have established that many manufacturers struggle with competing in today’s environment because of disconnected systems. Everything from legacy on-premise tools to siloed spreadsheets can keep companies from driving productivity from among their customer facing employees.
The great news is that manufacturers can now adopt innovative solutions to replace outdated systems and successfully equip their sales teams to better serve customer needs and compete in the current landscape.
Cloud CRM. A cloud customer relationship management (CRM) solution allows sales reps to create deeper, more meaningful relationships with every customer. Real-time information and interactions can be carefully tracked, so quick decisions can be made. Reps are better equipped to land new business, as well as upsell and cross-cell fresh opportunities to current customers.
Integration. The right integration tool unlocks and connects back-office ERP to front office systems, so manufacturers can better manage complex distribution and supply chains, and meet product demand.
Analytics. In manufacturing, sales teams not only need customer data to be accurate, but they also need to be able to successfully interpret it so they can make better decisions. Adopting an analytics tool can help reps uncover new opportunities and better sell to customers.
Mobile. Manufacturing sales people need real-time information wherever they are. To truly compete, sales reps should have the most current data at their fingertips via a smartphone or a tablet.
Once the old, outdated process and systems are out and the new are in place, manufacturers can expect numerous benefits on the sales side and beyond. In fact, companies that adopt cloud technology to coordinate and collaborate with their sales teams, and across their organizations, enjoy big advantage as a result in the form of improved relationships, better efficiency, mobile access, and increased sales.
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