The CRM Playbook for Manufacturing

We recently signed a new deal with a company in the manufacturing industry – a world leader in industrial packaging to be specific. The company has more than 12,000 employees and 200 locations around the world.  When they first engaged with SugarCRM, they told us they needed a CRM that would help them:

  • Consolidate current systems and processes to create sales efficiency and a better customer experience
  • Provide a single view of the customer for all of its global sales and customer service employees
  • Provide real-time data about customers and sales forecasts to speed up decision-making internally.

None of these business issues are unique to the manufacturing industry, but in this space, because it is very competitive with complex sales cycles, manufacturers must retain customers, gain new ones, and serve them all at the lowest possible price. They must also provide a superior customer experience to both end customers and suppliers. These are things one should think about when considering CRM for manufacturing companies:

crm for manufacturing

Managing the Dealer Network

The majority of manufacturers market, sell and service their products through a network of dealers that operate in local markets and transact directly with the end customer. For a manufacturer, dealer networks significantly reduce the costs of entering a market at the expense of predictability, consistency and control. A CRM solution for manufacturing streamlines dealer management by consolidating dealer, territory, market and fulfillment information into a consumer-grade interface for dealers and territory managers.

The dealer-manufacturer relationship is, above all else a partnership between enterprises. The net-value of the partnership is a result of the alignment, commitment, incentives, awareness and performance of both parties. In most cases, the manufacturer is responsible for setting the tone of the relationship and providing the infrastructure and tools to enable dealer success.

Managing the Supply Chain

Manufacturers often have a complex customer supply chains. Many work with demand generators, material specifiers, fabricators and distributors to supply their products to the world. A CRM that can organize complex supply chains reduces prep work and enable everyone to be aware of the status of each order and project. A CRM should also provide real-time integration data with other applications like finance and email so nothing slips through the cracks.

Integrated Demand Forecasting

The supply side of a manufacturing business needs a clean demand signal from sales, marketing and service business lines to ensure they are producing the right amount of product. The challenge with demand planning is that the people who have the best perspective on demand (dealers and territory managers) are usually the most divorced from the process. Demand plans created by the finance or supply portion of the organization are usually closer to “supply” plans and are biased towards their needs.

Smart manufacturers use their CRM to implement a simple but effective forecasting methodology for the front line of their business, integrating with finance and supply chain functions.

Identifying and Closing Gaps in Sales Coverage

Every territory is different, so using CRM to give territory managers a macro view of their business helps drive informed decision making and prioritization. Most manufacturers sell several product lines and the performance of a product line in a territory is a top-concern for the business. It must be simple to collect data to give management a better picture of where they should be spending their to maximize the performance of their territory.  

For more detailed tips about CRM for manufacturing, please download our CRM for Manufacturing Playbook.