3 Equipment Manufacturing Scenarios to Help Create a Business Case for CRM

Here are three scenarios based on real-life experiences in equipment manufacturing companies illustrating how customer relationship management (CRM) software can help you do better by your customers and team members.

Equipment Manufacturing CRM Scenario 1: Sales executive moves the business forward.


Amy manages the sales team for a company that designs, manufactures, and services industrial kilns and ventilation systems for companies which produce ceramic products. She used to meet with each of her reps every week to review their accounts, current activities, next steps, business expected to close over the next 30, 60, and 90 days, and address roadblocks. The day before their weekly meeting, every team member forwarded a spreadsheet with updates to her. Sometimes, people forgot to do this, or didn’t get the file to Amy until minutes before the meeting. Projections listed by the sales reps were often overly optimistic and made reliable, meaningful forecasting hard. Occasionally, reps called in from the road, which resulted in less than productive meetings. When the sales team grew to a dozen people all over the country, managing and supporting them took almost all of Amy’s time, leaving little energy for proactive planning or helping a new rep get started.

Once the equipment manufacturer deployed Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM and the technology partner’s consultants created dashboards and reports for company execs, Amy’s life became easier. She now holds her individual and team meetings in Microsoft Teams, where people can see each other and remain engaged. The reps happily lost the chore of providing weekly updates. Meetings are no longer a recurring calendar item, but Amy and her reps simply connect when they feel the need. The reps often log their activities and communications on their phones through Microsoft Outlook. An Outlook connector pushes the data into the records in the Microsoft CRM software.


Amy pulls automated reports to see what reps accomplished, which customers and prospects they pursue, and what their forecasts are. She can deliver her own summary report to the leadership team based on this information. When a rep closes a large volume of business in record time, she can dive into customer histories and see how timing and the right actions worked in the company’s favor. On the other hand, if a rep has difficulty converting leads to prospects or is behind in terms of close numbers, Amy can see how that rep’s activities may differ from those of other reps and why they might not be as successful.


What’s important to Amy is that she feels she understands the reps much better and can more effectively support them. As a valued, executive colleague, she can offer timely guidance in a consultative fashion without being intrusive. She is also more confident and effective in partnering with the rest of the executive team. When her colleagues ask her about sales—for instance, when the marketing VP wants to know how a certain lead generation campaign translates into prospects and new revenue—she has an answer within minutes.
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Proving the CRM solutions internally

Like the businesses of our equipment manufacturing clients, Sikich’s success depends on healthy customer relationships built on trust and shared goals. We use Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM internally and experience the benefit of this solution every time we connect, communicate, or collaborate with a prospect or customer. Like many clients, we needed to adjust quickly when the pandemic hit, replacing most in-person meetings with virtual interactions. With our Dynamics 365 CRM apps, we managed that transition without disrupting the business or losing any accounts. When conditions change and we can again travel to meet customers in person, we will still use our CRM software to manage relationships and opportunities.

Works like and with the tech tools you know

If you know Office 365 apps like Word, Outlook, or PowerPoint, you will probably find the Microsoft CRM solutions familiar and comfortable. You don’t need extensive training to get used to them and perform the every-day functions that matter most. When we deploy your CRM software, we also connect it with your company’s Office 365, SharePoint, or Teams applications to make it easier to engage with customers and colleagues, work together to win and serve accounts, and create and retrieve contracts and documentation. You don’t need to navigate multiple applications to do your job, but can spend the whole day in a familiar environment. We usually create these connections by means of smart design, building configurations that take only hours—as opposed to integrations, which typically take lots more time and expense, and also need IT to keep them updated and running smoothly.

From crawl, to walk, to run

Once your sales and service teams are in a flow with the new tools, we can show you how to achieve more with CRM. For instance, some equipment manufacturing clients find it valuable to bring in data from LinkedIn, Yelp, ecommerce systems, and social media to better understand customers’ behaviors and decisions.

We take you through the steps of pulling information from a variety of sources to build dashboards, so you can review such business conditions as account revenue or profitability for certain products, timeframes, and customer segments in a single screen. This is another example of using smart design—as opposed to expensive and time-consuming integration development—to deliver the data feedback you’re looking for.

When you’re ready, we can add machine learning capabilities to your CRM. For some equipment manufacturers, machine learning can enable next-level opportunity management. Overcoming the limitations of human attention spans, machine learning can help you pinpoint customer decision and purchasing patterns and take the right step when it makes a difference. Using data from multiple sources within and outside of your business, you can score customers and opportunities and help your reps hone in on the most promising accounts.

Equipment Manufacturing CRM Scenario 2: New sales rep hits the ground running


After Paul lost his job selling specialty equipment for food manufacturers, he was glad to land at an equipment manufacturing business that makes automated production equipment for companies that manufacture soups and sauces. Paul’s new employer has customers and production facilities all across the country, but expects Paul to work from home.

In his previous job, Paul used spreadsheets to track his results and had a basic app to manage communications, meetings, and commitments with customers. When he invested the time to keep these tools updated, they worked for him, but as soon as he got busy or forgot to enter a detail immediately, errors crept in and some customers were left hanging when they expected a response.


During the interviews, Paul learned that his new position became available because a team member of many years retired. His new boss mentioned that the rep recorded all her notes from customer conversations, decisions, and purchases in the company’s still-new Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM system. On his first day, Paul receives his company laptop and access to the CRM system. He explores the software and finds it easy to figure out how to do things. He is anxious to get working, because there is already an alert from the manager—who also uses CRM—urging him to contact a customer who had mentioned an upcoming purchasing decision.

Paul finds the account and reads the previous rep’s proposal and conversation notes. He feels that this customer is likely going to be open to a meeting to discuss next, best steps. He leaves a voicemail for the contact and follows up with an email.


Next, Paul reviews all active customers assigned to him. Several are planning equipment upgrades and new purchases. That means he can begin working with them, already well aware of their needs, budgets, and schedules. He realizes he will probably not have the painful income drop that he suffered in other companies as the newcomer in a sales role. The personnel change doesn’t interrupt the flow of business, and Paul can pick up where the former rep left off. He spends the rest of the day making calls, sending some more mail, and getting updates from customers, all of whom sound welcoming. A production manager says that he heard about a new ingredient-mixing tool the company is working on, and during the conversation Paul quickly accesses a SharePoint folder to share news about the product’s capabilities and ETA. The customer and Paul agree to meet next month so he can develop a proposal.


In the afternoon, the manager wants to know how things are going. Paul clicks on a button to create a summary of what he’s been working on, sends it to her, and they chat over Teams. He feels good about his first day at the new company—he can already show some results and feels at home in the new organization. Later that evening, Paul finds an encouraging response from the first customer he contacted and sets up a Teams meeting for the next day.

Managing services, keeping customers happy

Warranty maintenance and field service are important sources of revenue for many equipment manufacturers. Data-collection and reporting software can take in internet of things (IoT) data from sensors on the equipment you install at customer sites. You can proactively identify potential breakdowns or performance lags before they become problematic, dispatching technicians without interrupting the customer’s processes.

By connecting the software that enables insight into customer equipment with your CRM tools, you can easily make account updates and determine what the best engagement model for any customer is. Do they subscribe to your services, regularly paying a set fee, or do they prefer to have every service event treated discreetly? Who do you contact first, in what way, and who comes next if you dont reach the person who originated teh service call? No distracting ambiguities get in the way when all these details are saved in your CRM system.While your employees are at customer sites, they can use their tablets or laptops to look up account details in CRM, find equipment documentation in the content folders associated with the customer, and get their work done efficiently and safely. If they upsell or cross-sell any parts or services, they find all information and files in the CRM system.

Taking the lid off service innovation

When it comes to services, you can bring more of an innovative edge to your CRM environment. If you truly want to transform how customers receive field services, you can furnish your teams with mixed-reality devices and apps like Microsoft HoloLens 2 and Microsoft Dynamics 365 Mixed Reality Remote Assist. Your technicians may then be able to perform inspections and assessments remotely, before they travel to the equipment location. And, once onsite, they can connect with your engineers and product specialists, give them access to share the mixed reality, and resolve customer issues together right there and then. The cost of mixed-reality technology has come down with increased adoption and standardization, but it still has the awesomeness of a great new thing that customers may find attractive. Especially if you operate outside of the realm of large global enterprises doing business with each other, you might be taking several giant steps ahead of the competition by adopting mixed reality now.

Equipment Manufacturing CRM Scenario 3: Customer revives a supplier relationship


Doba works at a company that helps dentists source, purchase, and finance dental equipment for their practices. One of her suppliers is an equipment manufacturer that produces electric, air-driven handpieces. The company is known for the quality of its products but has undergone turnover and other organizational change. Some recent product deliveries were late, which meant dentists could not open or expand their practices as planned. The lead times for warranty service and repairs are longer than they used to be. Doba is no longer confident in making firm commitments that involve the manufacturer’s delivery schedules and has been looking for other options. But it takes time to identify new suppliers, negotiate terms, and become comfortable with them.


The equipment manufacturer’s VP of sales and distribution calls Doba and asks her for another opportunity to continue doing business together. He tells her that they have recently hired new account reps and upgraded their CRM technology. He is asking for six weeks to turn things around, and if the equipment manufacturer’s efforts don’t work out, he will help Doba transition to another supplier. She agrees to this without making any promises.

Next, Doba receives both an email and a call from Sean, her new rep. He knows that some dentists are asking for a particular handpiece design that the equipment manufacturer did not offer before, but the company now has a new product that could fit these requirements. He offers to ship a sample to Doba’s company or to any dentist who wants to try it. She is surprised and pleased that he is aware of the dentists’ request, and immediately thinks of one who would be happy to test the new handpiece.


Later that week, the equipment manufacturer’s field services manager contacts Doba with a list of dentists whose older equipment needs certain parts replaced before it breaks down and forces appointment cancellations. He offers to coordinate with her on reaching out to these dentists to tell them what needs to be done and schedule the work. He already has an email drafted that he forwards to Doba. All she needs to do is add her personal touch, sign it, and send it to the group of dentists. Over the next couple of weeks, she hears from them how the service appointments went. The equipment manufacturing service reps showed up on time, had all the tools and parts they needed, and completed their assignments after hours or during lunch breaks. Several dentists thank Doba for a great job in managing these service calls.


Sean gives Doba leads of new dental practices that open in her region, which the previous equipment manufacturing rep never did. Soon, she notices that delivery lead times have shrunk. When she helps a dentist put an equipment order together, she can ask for delivery within ten days. This used to take as long as a month, and it was often difficult to schedule installation for a particular day. She can only assume that the equipment manufacturer now has a better feedback loop between sales and production, and that Sean has a more effective and accurate way of forecasting and planning.

Doba no longer feels that she’s doing business with a traditional equipment manufacturer, but with a customer-focused, highly motivated, fast-paced company. Before the six weeks’ trial is over, she tells Sean and his boss that she is looking forward to continue working with them.

Taking the next step

Sikich will gladly help you explore the CRM opportunity for your manufacturing business. Get in touch anytime to have your questions answered or move forward.

Explore our HEADSTART for Equipment Manufacturers solution and have a look at some of our featured case studies.

See how Sikich helps businesses implement, manage, and upgrade Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM.

HEADSTARTTM for Equipment Manufacturers

To streamline Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Supply Chain and Dynamics 365 CRM deployments, Sikich has developed the HEADSTART approach. Our HEADSTART methodology has proven practices for equipment manufacturers, already preconfigured right out of the box.

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