Three common sales and marketing mistakes in manufacturing and how to avoid them

Within each industry, individual businesses feel the weight of similar struggles. In manufacturing, some of these struggles arise from common sales and marketing choices that do not benefit the business in today’s market, but actively stagnate or hinder it. Three of these common sales and marketing mistakes revolve around the use of customer relationship management (CRM) solutions—or rather, lack thereof. And, uncoincidentally, these issues can also be solved by utilizing CRMs.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 is a suite of native cloud business solutions, including the ERP Dynamics 365 Business Central and several CRMs—Dynamics 365 Sales, Dynamics 365 Marketing, and Dynamics 365 Customer Service. Their modern interface makes for ease of use, and they seamlessly integrate with each other and other Microsoft products, such as Word, Excel, SharePoint, and more. Because they are hosted on the cloud, these programs are available all the time from anywhere, and with the protective strength of Microsoft’s Azure Active Directory, they are secure no matter where they are accessed.

Little to no focus on sales and marketing

Historically, network-based sales have been the main lead generator for niche manufacturing while marketing has been minimal. This may have worked in the past, but today is the digital age with a much more globalized economy. Clients have many options for manufacturers, and manufacturers are not relegated to local clients. But that’s not all: The average client will want to do business with a company with which they already do business, or whom they are familiar with (brand recognition). But without a strong focus on sales and marketing, current client relationships are not always nurtured, so there’s not as strong of an impetus for clients to remain loyal to a certain manufacturer. Further, unnurtured client relationships leave no room for a manufacturer to understand the needs of their clients, communicate what else they can offer the client, and upsell to bring in even more business from their current customers.

Businesses need to leverage the power of marketing, controlled through CRM, to grow and remain competitive with new competition and new potential clients. Proper business to business (B2B) marketing can increase brand awareness, gain new leads, engage leads at the proper times, transform prospects into customers, and upsell when possible. CRM (customer relationship management) systems provide tools for marketing and sales that can aid a business in achieving these B2B goals.

Struggles with efficiency and effective communication

Keeping track of all past client conversations, data, and needs is a tall order. Multiply that tall order by how many clients an employee manages, and now the order is impossible to fill. If a clear, easy-to-use system is not in place to track and organized that data, client information can easily get entered incorrectly, or even lost, between applications and salespeople, lowering customer satisfaction and compromising potential sales. Who wants to repeat themselves and have their information forgotten or lost between meetings with sales teams? Nobody wants to work with a team that is that unprofessional, unprepared. Salespeople will also need to spend time creating reminders to engage with clients, or risk forgetting and neglecting them, further reducing customer satisfaction, loyalty, and increased sales.

Utilizing a CRM system centralizes a business’ sales conversations and customer data, allowing all salespeople on a lead access to information, including highlights of the client’s past conversations, enabling all salespeople to be on the same page and easily identify and anticipate customer needs while increasing the opportunity to upsell. Since information is kept in one location, it only has to be entered once, reducing timely, repetitive manual data entering that can result in human error or lost data. Salespeople can receive automated reminders for client outreach to maintain and build relationships, and automated customer journeys can market to targeted leads at ideal times.

If several CRMs are integrated, and the CRM is integrated with the ERP system (as is possible with Dynamics 365 Sales, Dynamics 365 Marketing, and Dynamics 365 Business Central), then all information is instantly updated and consistent across all systems. Further, and particularly for custom orders or manufacturers, a CRM allows for easy notes for customizations and specifications, which can then be implemented into a quote to be approved by the client. The streamlined quote-to-order process eliminates errors and the inefficiency of manually entering data into multiple locations by transferring the exact quote the customer approves from the CRM into the ERP to create the order.

Uses an ERP system to manage customer relationships

An ERP system is designed for current work, accounting, invoices and ordering, and human resources, not client acquisition and maintenance. Because ERP systems are integral to manufacturing, many manufacturers are so comfortable using an ERP that they will try to adapt their systems or processes to work as a CRM as well. The problem is ERPs and CRMs are entirely different animals, built for different purposes, and a business will never get the same results with an ERP as they would with a CRM. When a business uses their ERP system for client acquisition and customer relationship management, the entire system can become cluttered, frustrating people working within the ERP system (like accountants). Entities, features, and functions are missing in the ERP that are necessary for a CRM.

The solution is not to abandon customer relationship management (that would be even worse), but to invest in it and customize it. Giving your sales and marketing teams the tools to properly manage lead and current customer communication should be a high priority, and one that will result in growth of a business rather than stagnation and frustration. CRMs are highly customizable, so regardless the unique processes of your manufacturing business, a CRM can be customized to work perfectly for your needs, and you may even find CRM functionalities that can further optimize your current processes.

Conclusion

The short-and-sweet is this: Manufacturers should use a CRM because it improves relationships with customers (current and prospective) and makes it easier to understand their customers and make quicker, smarter decisions. Using a CRM creates unified, centralized customer and prospect communication, increasing effectiveness of the marketing and sales process, quality of customer service and communication (and therefore relationships and loyalty), and opportunities for upsells and repeat sells. They ultimately make the salesperson’s job easier through automation, centralization, and raised efficiency, which will result in happier customers who buy more and make the business more profitable.

Start your CRM journey

Are you ready to see how CRM systems can resolve these sales and marketing issues in your manufacturing business? Syvantis can help you make a difference in the marketing field -- get in touch with one of our CRM consultants for a demonstration today.

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