A Guide to Upgrading Your Manufacturing CRM
Introduction to the Manufacturing CRM Guide
You go into every partner relationship and project expecting your partner to work hard and move your project along efficiently. But you may be challenged with misaligned business goals, lack of process communication, or shortage of training & support.
Who you work with and how you implement your technology can be just as (if not more) important as the technology itself. Without the proper technology partner, your project is at risk for failure.
Manufacturing CRM Guide Chapters:
1. Customer Relationship Management (CRM): An Introduction
Managing a company’s relationships and interactions with customers and potential customers is critical to the success of a business. Having a network to improve business relationships can streamline processes and increase a company’s bottom line. With today’s technology, staying connected to customers is easy and efficient with the right technology.
Customer Relationship Management (or CRM) systems enable manufacturers to stay ahead of the complexities of the manufacturing industry. Manufacturing CRM eliminates the challenges of forecasting effectively, channel management, sales productivity, and field service operations.
The single modern manufacturing CRM system supports management of up-to-date customer data, sales management, team communication, tracks phone calls, email, meetings held, and facilitates social media correspondence. It organizes information into digestible formats that revolutionizes how business is conducted.
A CRM system is a web of modules usually including sales, customer service, field service, project service automation, marketing, and human resources. CRM systems are common across several industries. Notably, however, a manufacturing CRM system combines key product features to personalize customer experiences and accelerate your sales process:
How Can CRM Systems Help Your Business?
Never miss an opportunity to close deals and grow customer accounts. Manufacturing CRM systems work closely with your team to achieve your growth potential and identify solutions that accelerate your business forward. Assessing your company’s need for CRM technology or evaluating your current CRM system for functionality is key to ensuring that your investment in these systems work for your business.
A CRM system is a proven solution for helping any business succeed. It caters its functionality for your business’ specific mission. CRM systems keep customer contact details up to date, track customer transactions, and manage accounts for better business-customer relationships. Keep track of all your customer’s details and interactions with one fluid system, instead of relying on multiple forms of data collection, or simply the overextended minds of employees.
3. Improving Your CRM: Are You Ready for a CRM System Upgrade?
A CRM system is a resource and technology that will streamline your sales and help your business achieve its goals. Such a system makes it easy to analyze profit margins, track opportunities, and follow up on quotes before they expire. Knowing when your business is due for a CRM system upgrade is important. But how do you know when you are ready for a CRM upgrade or replacement? The answer to this question begins with an analysis of your unique requirements and the potential inefficiencies of your existing solution.
First, a centralized system and process is a must-have for effective customer service and engagement. An effective CRM solution provides a platform to see quotes, price changes, accuracy of data, and smooths out every quote approval process. It supplies a stronger collaboration between marketing and sales and accurate sales forecasting. By doing so, a full-suite CRM system provides better customer experiences and improves customer loyalty.
Second, an effective CRM offers business intelligence insights. With a good manufacturing CRM system, deep business insights and accelerated productivity are possible. By capturing these benefits, you will see increased revenue thanks to better management and more profitable projects and services.
Third, your CRM solution should be holistic. A CRM upgrade that improves enterprise visibility of customer information across all sales, customer service, and purchasing across all regions vastly improves productivity, efficiency, and customer experiences. The best CRM systems enable faster and better decisions with reliable and accessible information while simplifying the sales process.
Choosing the Right CRM Partner
Choosing the right CRM partner comes down to which features fit your business’ needs and preferences. With all the reputable CRM solutions and partners in the marketplace, it can be overwhelming to figure out where to start. Each system comes with its own programing pros and cons and it is up to you to figure out which is most suitable for you. However, the main components of good partnering choices include functionality, price, and customization.
4. Unique Features of Manufacturing CRM
CRMs are useful across industries, but certain features are uniquely valuable to manufacturers and other companies within the supply chain. Manufacturing CRM systems, for example, provide a platform that allows manufacturers to make product demand decisions based on forecasting features. These features incorporate visibility into the sales pipeline.
A great manufacturing CRM also increases customer engagement. The ability to make tailored solutions for your business while lowering the cost of support is unique to Dynamics 365, putting this platform head-and-shoulders above other options.
Some key Microsoft CRM solutions for manufacturing include:
- Lead Identification and Routing
- Activity Planning and Loyalty
- Tender and RFP Management
- Track Customer Assets
- Schedule and Dispatch Service Resources
- Real-Time Quote and Order Management
- Channel Management and Distributor Portal
- Forecasting Across Multiple Periods
- Tracking and Management of Field Work Orders, Service Issues, RMAs, and Warranty Claims
5. CRM Strategy
Top management has the power to make the new CRM an organizational priority and therefore is key to a successful and headache-free CRM upgrade. Other key internal stakeholders are the IT team who can be trained to troubleshoot and solve common technical issues and questions as well as project managers who can promote it internally and set key goals and objectives. For best results, a supportive and knowledgeable external team offers benefits that can ease the internal CRM rollout by providing technical assistance and tailored customer support. A skilled external team with expertise in the manufacturing sector specifically can help you create a competitive advantage and build operational excellence.
Any successful CRM upgrade strategy will be customized and tailored for the specific industry and company. Prior to implementation, it’s helpful to consider the CRM upgrade best practices that will enable you to best utilize this technology for your particular company and software needs. For a specific example of an effective manufacturing CRM revamp, see this case study on the results of a CRM upgrade in the real world.
6. Avoiding Pitfalls in CRM Implementation
A manufacturing CRM upgrade can lead to positive results for your company. However, there are some common mistakes when implementing a new CRM. Listed below are the common mistakes and ways to best avoid them:
- Not fully exploring requirements
Implementing a new manufacturing CRM has numerous requirements, and not just technological. Prior to committing to a CRM upgrade, first learn about implementation details including software and workflow needs. Importantly, you will need to consider whether you will need to make changes that are not technological. A readiness assessment with an expert can ensure a CRM upgrade is a sound investment and will address your company needs and will not just become underused, frustrating technology.
- Not including end-users in the decision-making process
Nearly all CRM upgrades that fail suffer from user adoption issues, not technology issues. This problem affects everyone, including end-users like the sales team, engineers, IT personnel, and customers. Engaging end users in the decision-making process gives them buy-in and a stake in the success of the project. Engage the primary end users at the beginning of the project and task them with responsibilities regarding planning and implementation.
- Underestimating budget
Upgrading your CRM will cost more than the technological change alone and can be particularly expensive if goals change mid-way through the process. New ideas and solutions during the implementation process lead to big budget increases. From the start, be specific about what aspects of your business you want to improve. Address the budget with your provider and consultants at the beginning of the project, but also remember that CRM upgrades are demonstrated to decrease costs, increase revenue, and enable your company to grow more quickly.
- Underestimating time or resources
Like underestimating a budget, a CRM upgrade will likely take more time and/or resources than expected. Factor an underestimation into your projections and ensure that you have time and additional resources that you can devote, if needed, and consider the long-term positive impact on efficiency the CRM upgrade will have.
- Irregular communication
Poor communication can leave employees frustrated and fearful of the changes being thrust upon them. Help employees get excited and engaged with the project through effective communication by providing vendor selection announcements, quick win highlights, and regular process updates.
- Not taking advantage of features and customization
Today’s manufacturing CRM software from Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement is immensely powerful, capable, and customizable.The software also continues to change, which makes it even more important to work with a partner you trust. When you work with a manufacturing CRM expert to implement an upgrade be sure they can train end users in relevant features. Consider making a select few employees super users who are trained in nearly all the features and able to advise colleagues and customize the system.
- Not investing in training and change management
Many CRM implementations fail due to a lack of an effective change management plan. Implementing a new business system is a major change that many organizations take for granted, and the best way to address this is to receive change management guidance from an expert. Ensure that new staff onboarding training plans are created during the implementation process while the information is fresh.
- Making assumptions
When implementing a manufacturing CRM upgrade, it is critical that you do not make assumptions about your internal team’s abilities or knowledge. Instead, be open and curious in the process and seek out a way to continue to develop your company’s abilities. This open mindedness and desire to learn will ensure your company can benefit as much as possible from the upgraded software and implementation process.