Today's manufacturing sector needs to be lean. Processes must be efficient and responsive to customer demand. What's more, the flow of materials must be optimised to match incoming orders without resulting in wasteful stock levels with depreciating values. Many manufacturers strive to meet these challenges by using ERP software but not all will utilise the value of a good Customer Relationship Management system. A properly deployed and managed CRM can transform a manufacturing business.
A good CRM contains data that can give your business a real competitive advantage. Looking at this information, you can see patterns of ordering and use this to create business intelligence. For example, a client makes orders at the beginning of each month but has not placed an order yet for this month. The salesperson is not due to visit for another two weeks but is this something that needs attention now? Perhaps the client has been poached by a competitor. Perhaps he has just changed his buying patterns. Whatever the reason, a CRM system allows you to react faster than competitors, improving your sales management, looking at patterns to intercept issues and helping to retain clients.
Using CRM to create opportunity
A CRM software is not just about reacting to situations. Sales management executives can use the information contained in the system to uncover opportunities, too. You might know that a client buys product A from you but not product B. And yet you know he does sell product B. This provides you with an opportunity to cross-sell and create a personalised offer like combining deliveries to achieve cost savings. Equally, you might see that a client regularly buys a lot of a certain product. If you know that materials shortages could see the price increases in the next quarter, you could add some value to your relationship by advising the customer to save money and secure supply by buying now. If you have an oversupply of a certain product, one of the benefits of CRM is that the system will allow you find out who buys that product and therefore allow you to contact those clients efficiently with an offer to take the excess.
One of the obvious benefits of CRM is how it empowers the sales management process. Sales managers can easily see the sales activity of all their staff and ensure that the right activities are taking place at the right time. This ensures that resources are being deployed most effectively and, in the event of annual leave or illness, duties can be easily transferred to another sales person, who will have full knowledge of the accounts.
CRM and ERP software
Real competitive advantage can be gained by having an integrated CRM function within your company's ERP solution. In doing so, the manufacturing function can see the sales activity and get an early glimpse of likely product demands. This allows them to plan the manufacturing process most efficiently, thereby shortening lead times and outperforming competitors. In this way, the sales and manufacturing functions are aligned to create a leaner, more competitive whole.