Manufacturers Use CRM to Drive Sales and Boost Service

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In today’s global economy, creating a competitive advantage is imperative for any manufacturer looking to grow market share and deploying CRM is one way manufacturers can work smarter and expose hidden sales opportunity.  Over the years, AbleBridge has helped many Manufacturing organizations use Microsoft Dynamics CRM to increase their sales, marketing, and service effectiveness; and in this past year alone we helped deploy Microsoft Dynamics CRM across a variety of manufacturing sectors including, chemical, food processing, electronics, and medical equipment. 

I would like to equate this uptick in CRM deployments to productivity gains across the US manufacturing sector but it’s probably more attributable to a mentality of “working smarter” by streamlining operations and re-inventing their competitive edge in this ever growing global economy. 

By the very nature of their business, manufacturers manage complex customer information and interactions at multiple levels.  User’s need to share and access information quickly and easily;  oftentimes, they need to look at it from different angles in order to make informed decisions.  In AbleBridge’s experience deploying Microsoft Dynamics CRM for manufacturers there are some common key drivers that resonate across the majority of our CRM deployments.  (1) Defining internal taxonomies around a manufacturer’s customer relationships (2) organizing the information in a structured way across these relationships, and (3) providing order processing systems integration with CRM.   Once these are in place, the ability to identify measurable results and realize a fast return on investment will soon be in sight.

Here is a brief description around each of these key drivers.

1)       Internal Taxonomy

What Joe refers to as a customer, Bill may refer to as a distributor.  And even worse, Sally refers to as a manufacturer’s rep.  They all might mean the same thing but unless your internal processes are aligned with a common set of definitions it will be impossible to measure results across various customer relationships.  A CRM deployment project can serve as a critical juncture where a manufacturer can take advantage of this time to revisit or redefine their internal business definitions. 

2)       Relationship and Information Organization

Customers may take the form of  a Distributor or End User.  Both customer profiles are important but you may market to them differently based on their relationships.  If Distributor A has twenty End User customers and Distributor B has two hundred End User customers you might be more inclined to offer co-marketing funds to one versus the other.  What products or product groups is each Distributor successful selling?  What cross sell / upsell opportunities present themselves across the End User or Distributor customer base?  When was the last time someone performed a Site Visit or met with a key Distributor?  What competitive products do these Distributors provide and how does that weigh into territory management?  Customers, Relationship Types, Inventory, Product, Competitors, and Activities are just some examples of the types of relationships that need to be in harmony in order to drive quick and easy access to information  and assess the role each relationship plays in your organization.

3)       Order Processing / ERP Integration

Manufacturers oftentimes have high volumes of quotes and orders.  In this scenario, it is very beneficial to integrate a manufacturer’s order processing system with Microsoft Dynamics CRM.  For a CRM user, the quote and order information is invaluable when determining total lifetime value of a customer.  How do sales compare this year vs. last year and are there any identifiable trends?  Providing visibility into Quotes and / Order provides a salesperson or a customer support representative with insightful information into product purchase history.  Providing visibility into customer order information will drive CRM user adoption by expanding the usefulness of the customer information being tracked.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM is flexible, easy-to-use, and currently has over one million users adopting it as their CRM platform.  AbleBridge has leveraged this powerful platform to help many manufacturing organizations better manage the relationships, workflows, and business needs in order to ceate and  maintain a competitive advantage.

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