Streamlining the Sales Cycle in Manufacturing with CRM Tools

Streamlining the Sales Cycle in Manufacturing with CRM Tools

Sales in manufacturing are incredibly complex. More often than not, they involve long lead times, custom orders, and multiple approvals along the way. Despite these challenges, CRM tools can help manufacturers quickly overcome these bottlenecks, streamline sales processes, and improve cross-departmental collaboration. They can also facilitate collaboration with external stakeholders such as suppliers and distributors. Below, we’ll dive deeper into how CRM tools can help manufacturing enterprises streamline sales cycles and overcome some of the most common struggles these organizations face.

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What we'll Cover:

    Manufacturing Sales Cycles: A Quick Glance

    Apart from being complex, sales cycles in manufacturing are also exceptionally long:

    • Prospecting
    • Lead generation
    • Lead qualification
    • Proposal
    • Negotiation
    • Closing the deal

    Apart from their exceptionally long character, sales cycles in manufacturing also witness long lead times. Usually, the products provided by such organizations are custom-made to meet each customer’s specific needs and requirements. As expected, this usually means longer planning and execution times, with many variables accounted for.

    The project approval process may also extend over a longer timeframe, as it usually requires approvals from both the customer and the manufacturer.

    With all these particularities in mind, it can become daunting to remain on top of manufacturing sales cycles due to the lack of proper tools and applications that facilitate communication, process automation, tracking, and efficiency and effectiveness.

    CRM Applications: Manufacturers’ Digital Assistant

    In most cases, CRM applications nowadays can act as a digital assistant. These solutions are empowered by Generative AI and Predictive Analytics and have the potential to ease some of the workload associated with especially long and complex sales cycles:

    Generative AI-empowered CRMs can help critical stakeholders summarize customer data and other information from the first interaction without missing any relevant details that may help across the sales cycles.

    Such solutions can help sales and support reps quickly find answers and recommendations for their customers based on previous interactions.

    Generative AI capabilities will facilitate the creation of personalized sales and marketing content that appeals to each customer or prospect.

    Can assist in the spontaneous creation of reports and workflows, allowing sales reps to get valuable insights.

    All these features modern CRMs have today are critical in manufacturing, where manufacturers have multiple customer interactions that generate large volumes of data.

    CRM Solutions: Helping Manufacturers Better Manage Long Lead Times

    CRM solutions are a great way to manage long lead times that typically appear in manufacturing. These solutions are equipped with advanced tracking and forecasting capabilities, which allow enterprises better manage interactions and work towards better outcomes.

    Robust CRM solutions also feature predictive analytics capabilities. These features can help manufacturers analyze historical sales data more effectively, which in turn helps them forecast demand, plan production volumes, schedule their workload more efficiently, and allocate resources where and when needed.

    Predictive analytics embedded into CRM tools also helps manufacturers better identify potential bottlenecks and proactively develop strategies that may help them overcome these.

    CRM tools are also great at real-time order tracking, letting salespeople get an accurate view of the progression of their deals through the sales cycle. Salespeople can set up alerts, reminders, and notifications that allow them to take proactive measures and keep the project within the established timeline while improving customer satisfaction.

    Below are some capabilities that enable better sales cycle management for manufacturing enterprises.

    Three Use-Cases for Manufacturing CRM

    1. Configuration and Customization Management

    Robust CRM tools are equipment with customization and configuration tools usually required in manufacturing for product and workflow configuration.

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    Configuration and customization capabilities are essential in manufacturing because they allow these enterprises to capture special customer requirements effectively. CRM tools can capture such requirements and can be seamlessly integrated within the production process and workflow. Besides, in such cases, a CRM will increase visibility into each order by allowing all departments to get full access to the information provided by the customer.

    CRM tools can:

    • Generate accurate quotes based on each product configuration
    • Aid the sales cycle and enhance customer satisfaction
    • Enhance the product customization process, allowing sales and production teams to find suitable solutions and workaround that match each customer’s specific needs
    • Offer manufacturing businesses a competitive edge due to their ability to deliver custom product
    • Enhance inter-departmental communication and collaboration and allow stakeholders from all parties involved, including customers, to get a glimpse into each product’s evolution
    • Reduce human error and miscommunication, boosting customer loyalty, with the help of internally embedded Configuration Management solutions.

    2. Workflow Automation and Multi-Level Approvals

    Manufacturing sales cycles are characterized by multi-level approvals. These come from both the manufacturing company’s side as well as the customer’s side, as both need to agree on all levels:

    • Sales managers
    • Finance officers
    • Engineers
    • Executives

    CRM tools can be set up to automatically route approval requests through rule-based automated workflows, designed to meet each specific scenario.

    CRMs designed to meet the needs of manufacturing enterprises also offer a centralized hub for all approval-related documents. This enhances the decision-making and collaboration, streamlining and optimizing the sales cycle. CRM tools can also be used for audit and compliance, providing a clear trail of accountability and boosting transparency.

    3. Integration With Other Systems

    Manufacturing enterprises usually operate on two central systems: their CRM and their ERP system. Proper integration between the two ensures that all processes, from customer-facing to operational processes, are coordinated and articulated, and all information is available in a central hub, be it front-office or back-office. Here’s how CRM and ERP integration help manufacturers streamline sales cycles:

    Seamless data flow across the organization that ensures data is constantly up-to-date and accessible across all departments.

    Gain a comprehensive view of all customer interactions have a clear idea of customer needs and requirements, past interactions and issues raised, which increases the CX levels.

    Access to real-time inventory data that allows salespeople to avoid overpromising and under-delivering products.

    It’s a Wrap!

    Manufacturing CRM solutions are essential for companies looking to streamline complex and lengthy sales cycles. Because CRM tools are not the only ones used by manufacturers, proper integration between them and ERP solutions is critical.

    If you want to learn more about how CRM solutions and ERP integrations can help you streamline and manage more successful sales cycles, read The Manufacturer & SugarCRM Whitepaper, Unlocking Manufacturing Growth.

    Mihaela Chiurtu
    Mihaela Chiurtu As a Marketing Content Writer, Mihaela is passionate about branding, content strategies, and customer interactions. When outside the office, Mihaela is a Netflix binge-watcher, skincare geek, and music lover.

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