Many manufacturing companies have had thriving businesses for decades, without the help of a standalone CRM system.

For most of these manufacturers, the ERP system has served as the company’s shared repository customer information.

Individual salespeople have been managing end customer, dealer and distributor employees information as email client contacts.

A salesperson at a manufacturer who manages major accounts knows exactly who to stay in touch with. In their case, it’s the quality of relationships, not the quantity.

Many standalone CRM vendors rightly proclaim that the CRM offered by most ERP vendors is very basic. In the realm of small to mid-size businesses, most ERP vendor CRM offerings are not extensible platforms that canister is used to build custom functionality and workflow on top of a basic CRM database.

Business drivers.

There are a number of costs associated with CRM beyond the cost of CRM licenses. If the business drivers for a new CRM are not sufficient, no CRM arrangement will produce an ROI, even under the best of circumstances.

Business Drivers for CRM Adoption By Manufacturers

What are some of the selling drivers that, as a group, may signal the fact that CRM systems should be evaluated?

The Arrival of Higher Quality Sales Leads

For years, many sales leads were lists of trade show booth attendees. Sometimes, leads were lists that were purchased from industry database vendors.

Increased digital marketing efforts are producing higher quality sales leads compared to traditional methods. An increasing number of leads are people who articulated a business need for your type of or category of product.

Leads that are worth following up with a need to be efficiently distributed to salespeople. Marketing should understand the disposition of leads so they can capture even better leads in the future.

We helped one of our manufacturing clients evaluate CRM vendors and marketing computerization vendors in rapid succession, as inbound market efforts were to be an important value component of the CRM implementation.

Easier Collaboration Among Salespeople

In the absence of CRM, there are many traditional methods, such as email, for salespeople to communicate internally.

However, if there’s a need to have internal, online discussions that relate to specific prospects, customers, opportunities, and other entities CRM allows for this. Conversations can be directly connected to specific companies, people, sales opportunities, and more.

More Cross Product Revenue Opportunities

Over time, many manufacturers develop new products or acquire new products. A maker may inherit an entire sales team via an acquisition.

When existing customers are prospects for newly acquired products, CRM is an opportunity to facilitate conversations that can expose and facilitate new revenue opportunities with existing clients.

The best time to identify how technology can facilitate cross-communication and cross-sell is before making the large investment in a CRM system.

Better Forecasting for Production

For certain types of manufacturers, the sales department can provide important inputs into forecasting for manufacturing plants.

If spreadsheets and ad hoc communications between sales and production are too time-consuming or are not working, CRM can reduce the time and effort required to provide meaningful forecast inputs.

Smartphone Access to ERP Data

Many of today’s ERP systems have a traditional client/server architecture. For salespeople who work from a home office, a manufacturer’s IT department often sets up remote desktop services access to the ERP system for those salespeople.

However, the IT department doesn’t always have the time or the resources to build a Smartphone application that gives field users easy access to ERP data.