A Beginner’s Guide to Manufacturing Cloud

What is Salesforce Manufacturing Cloud (MC)? This question has been the new buzz word since the CRM giant released its new product called Manufacturing Cloud. Before we take a deep dive, lets understand where manufacturers struggle to understand why they would even need a product like MC in the first place. Manufacturers are always faced with new dilemmas. A large portion of manufacturers still have their customer’s information spread across multiple spreadsheets and 67 different Enterprise Resource Planning solutions (ERP) (I kid, but not really). This setup can negatively affect service level agreements, account performance, and the ability to accurately predict demand.

Manufacturing Cloud to the rescue! The Salesforce MC is set to deliver deeper business visibility and collaboration between sales and operations teams by giving deep insight through new sales agreements and account-based forecasting solutions. It provides visibility into their customer interactions while enabling them to generate more robust sales forecasts. The MC is built on Salesforce widely used customer relationship management (CRM) software and comes with the ability to plug into ERP solutions and Order Management Systems from multiple other vendors using their pre-configured APIs.


Manufacturing B2B buyers are setting new expectations for personalized experiences. Previously, organizations in both B2B and B2C sales, targeted broad customer demographics to deliver their personalized message. Online B2C organizations started the trend of delivering personalization into customer experiences in the 2000s. Since the rise in availability of consumer data, B2B organizations are now able to deliver the same personalization as their B2C counterparts. Buyers are leaving manufacturers to grasp the concepts and techniques required to deliver personalized messages and engagement through before, during and after a sale. Manufacturers, faced with tight competition must deliver a full customer experience to drive new sales and retain customers. According to the Microsoft 2019 manufacturing trends report, 75% of customers prefer personalized experiences. With Salesforce, rich first-party customer data is located right in your organization ready to be tapped.

This data allows your organization to discover customer trends and information related to your target audience. Defining a target audience allows you to segment your audience into focused groups. Finding audiences with characteristics similar to your existing customer data allows you to scale your marketing efforts. After you have acquired your audience in which you are set to market to, Salesforce allows you to set email triggers to automate your nurture process. This will keep your customers updated at any step of the sales lifecycle, from first interest to re-educating existing customers on current products personally tailored to them. Manufacturers must engage with buyers beyond a purchase. By listening to your buyers and collecting feedback post-purchase, you can build trust between seller and buyer. Salesforce Manufacturing Cloud delivers a full picture of your buyers across channels. Aligning the teams in your organization and empowering them to deliver a personal experience at any stage of the lifecycle experience.


Salesforce Manufacturing Cloud has native lead management that can be tailored to any business. Leads can be renamed to match how you refer to leads, prospects, buyers, etc. Lead management helps your opportunity teams to qualify leads before passing them on to sales so your reps have access to the latest prospects, and ensures that leads never fall through the cracks. Leads sit on one side of the room (i.e. database) while Accounts, Contacts, and Opportunities sit on the other side of the room (database). There is no relationship between Leads and Accounts or Contacts.


If your organization is actively looking for Leads through tradeshows, events, buying mailing lists, etc., Salesforce Leads will probably be a good fit. In manufacturing, buyers have easy access to product information through the internet. They are not looking to be pitched or lectured on your products. Traditional sales and marketing are no longer effective. A modern manufacturer must have a deep, full 360-degree understanding of their customers. This means focusing on your customers’ pain points and needs, to help find a solution be suited for them. With Leads, you can start to build a complete picture of a buyer. Salesforce Leads allows you to qualify your Leads, so your Sales team has the most viable opportunities. You are also able to report on the effectiveness of your marketing and help refine your process of attracting business.

Sales Agreement

Salesforce Manufacturing Cloud Sales Agreements features give you visibility on all terms negotiated with your customers. This gives you control in planning your sales and operations better, further aligning the two. With real time updates in Sales Agreements, you can ditch the spreadsheets and outdated data.

This gives you the flexibility to work with your customers and meet their forecast changes by mitigating market volatility and helping to manage emergency orders. Better understand and track how your business is growing with the ability to see planned sales, current sales, discounts, and quantities. Track the key performance indicators within your Sales Agreements that matter most to your organization with custom metrics.

You can create custom mappings for formula, currency, or number custom fields for sales agreement products and schedules. Sales Agreements in Salesforce can help your organization with revenue realization by keeping your data up to date and achieve a higher level of order consistency. Sales Agreements also help operations along the line.

By having accurate and up to date sales agreements operations and sales can build trust and consistency further aligning the two.

Operations Visibility

Success happens when leaders understand both commercial drivers and supply chain constraints. When operations have low to zero visibility into sales, there is a failure to improve operating margins and reduce inventory levels. Bridging the gap between sales and operations and better aligning the two has a very positive effect. Operations are the people who get forecasted orders, work on line-plans, create staffing plans, allocate resources, distribute materials for storage and use, and coordinate packing then the shipping of inventory. Volatility in the market makes it incredibly hard to operate and plan for a manufacturer. Salesforce Manufacturing cloud opens up operations visibility, giving more insight into customer demand and backward-looking planning.

In Salesforce customer insight data is already being collected and can be displayed in a meaningful way, getting everyone on the same page. Manufacturers can leverage this data to better plan operations. This will give your organization a first step in reducing rush orders and production line changeovers. Due to the market, emergency orders will still exist, but you can better mitigate the highs and lows. Better forecasting in planning leads to a reduction in overtime hours, production volatility, lead times, and days in Inventory. Ultimately, Salesforce Manufacturing Cloud better aligns sales and operations to open visibility across channels.


Along with the introduction of robust Sales Agreement functionality, Manufacturing Cloud lends the ability to formulate more accurate and customized forecasting comprised of run-rate business (Sales Agreement) and pipeline (Opportunity).

Gone are the days of emailing forecast spreadsheets between sales, finance, and operations where you were left wondering, “How in the world did the numbers change so much from the last time I held the pen?” A unified view of your forecasts with a single source of truth will allow your teams to collaborate in real-time with greater flexibility, transparency, history tracking, and perhaps most importantly, accuracy. Users with access to an account via the Account Team can provide forecast updates based on a wide variety of factors so that your customers’ changing needs or market demands are specifically noted and accounted for. New with Salesforce’s Spring 2020 release, additional products can be added to forecasts with a single click, even if they are not associated with any Sales Agreements, Orders, or Opportunities.

While the enhanced collaboration is a major benefit, perhaps the most exciting piece of Manufacturing Cloud’s Forecasting feature is the ability to create a formula that is tailor-made to the distinct sales cycle of your business, inclusive of the inputs or metrics that matter most. Even as planning gets smarter in today’s age of information, one of the biggest challenges your customers continue to face is accurately projecting the inventory they will need. Many times, assumptions lead to under- or overestimation, causing downstream issues and putting unnecessary strain on relationships. You’ll have the opportunity to utilize your wealth of data amassed over years of success to make both your and your customers’ decisions more calculated and insight based.

Case/Issue Management

In the Salesforce world, Cases refer to managing a business process across multiple people. Most often, this manifests as customer service issues, but Cases can be used for any situation that requires interaction between your company and customers or between internal teams (think internal IT service desk). Standard Cases allow you to track the issue type, assign it to a person or a queue (manual or automated), and when completed, document what work was done. This gives those who “need to know” the visibility into what issue the client had and how it was resolved.

The Cases object comes with a great deal of additional functionality for more streamlined customer interaction, etc. Web-to-Case functionality that allows customers to submit new issues from your company website directly into Salesforce and can be used to guide communication as you progress toward resolution.

A classic type of Case in the manufacturing world would be a customer reporting a product damage or defect. This would more than likely originate as a phone call, from which you can capture the details of the issue and associate it to the customer record. Any activities (tasks, phone conversations, etc.) can also be related to the Case record so that anyone with access to the record has the most current information about your customer landscape. Reports and dashboards can use Case data to give you insight into the historical health of your customer relationships and much more.

Because Manufacturing Cloud utilizes what is available in Sales and Service Clouds, you can easily differentiate the user interfaces for both teams, ensuring that Cases and relevant objects are more readily available to users focused on the service aspect. There are also
more advanced options such as routing Cases based on your team’s availability or skill sets.

Items to Consider

  • Which internal teams need insight and authoring capabilities to yield the most holistic and accurate forecast?
  • Am I comfortable with out-of-the-box forecasting functionality or do we have unique needs that merit a custom algorithm?
  • All standard Salesforce licenses allow free Chatter access for everyone in your organization. Salesforce also offers Chatter-specific licenses: Chatter External, Chatter Free, and Chatter Only (also known as Chatter Plus).
  • Chatter Free is available for Unlimited, Enterprise and Professional Edition users that don’t have Salesforce licenses but need access to Chatter. These users can access standard Chatter people, profiles, groups, and files, but they can’t access any Salesforce objects or data
  • Chatter External is designed to allow your customers into Chatter groups. Customers are users outside of your company’s email domains. They have very limited access and can only interact with the groups they’ve been invited to.


We already know that Manufacturing Cloud enables your sales, operations, finance, and product teams to collaborate and respond quickly to shifts in demand and build predictability across your entire ecosystem. But Chatter exists on top of everything that is already included out-of-the-box with Manufacturing Cloud, and it is the ultimate collaboration tool. Want to keep up to date with members of your team? Chatter allows you to follow and interact with other users in real-time, on an individual basis or in Groups. Did you just come across an informative post that you want to read later? Chatter allows you to bookmark it, share it or comment on it instantaneously. Chatter includes these features and more, all at no cost to you.

When utilized in Manufacturing Cloud, Chatter keeps your users (and clients – more on that in a minute) in sync. Since Manufacturing Cloud already improves collaboration and visibility across your business by surfacing data housed in your ERPs, Chatter is an added bonus that will only further expedite the sales process, enabling your users to communicate and share information in real-time. This accelerates innovation and drives productivity, making for a smooth journey all throughout your sales process.

WorkFlow Automation

One of Salesforce’s most powerful automation tools is the ability to construct and manage complex business processes, regardless of if they are executed serially or in parallel. Because Manufacturing Cloud leverages the resources available to Sales & Service Clouds, there are at least three ways that these processes can be built:

WORKFLOW RULES are the easiest to build; however, they are also the least flexible option. Workflow gives you the ability to create a task, send an email, update a field, or send an outbound message.

PROCESS BUILDER allows you to build more complex processes with a higher degree of flexibility, including the incorporation of conditional scenarios to yield a wider variety of output. A simple example of when Process Builder would be required over a Workflow Rule is if a new task needs to be dynamically assigned to a user in a certain role on an Account Team. For instance, if you have not met with a customer for a certain period, the process can assign a task to the Inside Sales Rep / Account Manager / etc. that covers the relationship, so they know to reach out. If you need multiple roles to execute multiple actions, this can also be accomplished. Another huge bonus of Process Builder is its user-friendliness setting up a new or editing an existing process involves supreme visualization (think flowcharts) as well as “point and click” configuration. That said, there are nuances that we typically review with clients if you choose to maintain the processes going forward.

FLOW is the most flexible and complex tool for workflow automation. Flows can be used to build processes around dynamic data collection and for creating call scripts, requiring a technical background to set up and maintain.

Workflows can also be created “behind the scenes” to operate exclusively within Salesforce when they do not necessarily map to a business process but can help with user-friendliness and adoption. For example, you may have a customer listed as a “Prospect” and when you close your first opportunity with them, you want to automatically update the type from “prospect” to “client”.

Reports and dashboards

One of the things that makes Salesforce such a powerful platform is the ability to easily create Reports on almost any of the data in your org. Because many of us our visual digesters of information, there are equally impressive dashboarding capabilities that use charts and graphs to represent your data. Any time you are viewing a Dashboard, you can drill down into the Report data of which it is comprised.

The beauty of Salesforce’s cloud infrastructure means that you will always have the most recent information in your reporting no more waiting until the following month for last month’s numbers (but you can set filters to view certain timeframes). You can even schedule Reports or Dashboards to be run and emailed to specific users.

Manufacturing Cloud comes equipped with a vast analytics suite, including Reports and their visualizations in Dashboard form within the context of frequently visited pages.

maunfacturing cloud reporting screen


  • Sales Agreement Product Performance, which allows you to discern the health of the individual agreement and the products involved
  • Sales Agreement Revenue Realization, which provides insight into renewal probability and the main contributing factors

Artificial Intelligence

The analytics made available by Salesforce via Manufacturing Cloud are seriously impressive, however they just scratch the surface of where we are headed. Heavy investments are being made into Artificial Intelligence (AI) that will continue to revolutionize the way we think about our businesses and our customers.

Salesforce has already achieved many feats in this field with features like Einstein Discovery and Einstein Next Best Action, which have similar decision-guiding principles to the analytics and can extend it even further. Einstein Prediction Builder can give you preemptive indicators of business outcomes like customer churn or lifetime value. Einstein Language and Einstein Vision can measure sentiments toward your business or products based on what people are writing to you or about you on social media. Einstein Bots and Einstein Voice (beta released Spring 2020) connect to your data allowing customer interaction, daily briefings, voice updates of your data, and more.

Because all these bells and whistles can produce so much valuable output for your business, it begs the question, “Will we have to expend as much valuable input to reap the benefits?” The simple answer is a resounding NO! Salesforce’s AI features can be configured to your unique needs with clicks and not code.


The AppExchange is an App Store where you can find applications that plug into Salesforce applications. Not all applications integrate with Manufacturing Cloud; however, there are a number of great applications that you can take advantage of. There are industry-specific applications such as Zenkraft, Youreka, Geopointe, and Conga Composer, as well
as applications, such as marketing automation tools, survey tools and document generation tools, that work across all industries.

Even if you have vendors that are not listed on the AppExchange, they may still have pre-built integration with If this is the case, your third-party vendors should be able to plug in their solutions for you at no or minimal cost. We have found that organizations that plug in one or more applications from AppExchange will have better adoption of their Salesforce application.


In addition to the Dashboards that can be embedded within your pages, the Analytics Studio houses an even deeper level of information about your business. Out-of-the-box key performance indicators about an extensive variety of topics including account health, demand, product penetration, and Sales Agreement compliance are all readily available with Einstein Analytics for Manufacturing Cloud.

manufacturing cloud community


Communities are a great way to share information and collaborate with those who are key in your business processes. Using point and click tools and prebuilt templates, communities are easily configured to fit your company. For manufacturers, engaging with customers and channel partners using the community portal can improve productivity and help collaborate to close more deals. The pre-built template specific for manufacturers gives customers and partners visibility into Sales Agreements, Knowledge Articles, Leads, Opportunities, and more. When partners and customers have access to collaborate with organizations, they save countless hours not being on the phone and losing documents through endless email threads. With Chatter, you can notify partners and communicate back and forth to quickly deliver messages and notify others of changes. Communicate changes to Sales Agreements and edit the Sales Agreement right in the community portal so everyone will have the most up to date information and nothing is lost updating and sending documents back and forth. Communities provide a single source of truth for manufacturers to collaborate with partners.

Data migration

Data Migration and Data Visibility is so important to the implementation process that there are a number of items that occur during the data migration that may not be known to people that have never done it.

Preparing data is something that clients need to do during the project to ensure that the data is in a format that can be loaded into Salesforce. Since consultants like Sikich don’t know your data, it is impossible for us to prepare it correctly, and this is why the task falls on our clients. What this means is that we need to have your data separated into separate Excel tabs. One tab needs to contain businesses/households, another needs to contain contacts, another needs to contain opportunities, another needs to contain activities/notes, etc. When preparing this data, all of your records must have the correct relationship in place so the data can load properly.

Unfortunately, some older CRM systems don’t enforce data integrity whereby if you change a company name, for example, the completed activities related to that company may still be associated with the previous company name. When you load the new company name in Salesforce and match on the activities, they won’t match and thus, won’t load. Often when migrating from another CRM system, you first need to do a complete data extraction. Some systems do not export the data in a format that is easy to work with. Instead of exporting the households/accounts in one Excel tab, contacts in another, etc., the system just puts the data wherever it wants, creating a nightmare to prepare it.

Data Sharing

If we are setting a visibility model that restricts what people can see based on role, we often need to build sharing rules to share data across multiple users. For example, we may want to share the household, client and financial account data across everyone listed as the household service team. These rules must be discussed early in the project and if standard Salesforce sharing rules can’t meet the business need, we will need to write some code to enhance the sharing model.


If you would want to migrate contact data from your email system into Salesforce, you will need to allocate more time to prepare your data. A case in point: In my contact folder, I have John Smith at ABC Company and in your contact folder, you have Johnny Smith at ABC Co. If we combine the data and load it, we will load two companies and two contacts. If you also migrate CRM data, you could potentially have a third person or company.


Salesforce gives you a lot of options for how you want to set up the data visibility model. You can have an open visibility model where everyone can see all data, all fields, and update all records; an extremely restricted visibility model where you can only see certain records and some of the fields are not visible; or something in the middle. What drives visibility initially is ownership of records, so that if we set the visibility model where you can only see records that you own, you must be the owner of that record to see it. When setting up a role hierarchy, you can allow people above you in the hierarchy to see your data, even if they are not the owner of the record. What does this have to do with data migration? As part of preparing the data, it will be important to specify who is the record owner for each client if you want to restrict who can see what data.


You may have client data in your legacy system along with data in a CRM, and while your CRM system has all of your activity data, etc., your legacy system (NetSuite, Prodsmart, Hubstaff, Fishbowl, etc.) may contain the most up-to-date address information, in addition to all of the other systems you have integrated. If we need to combine non-financial account data from two systems and put it into Salesforce, we need to have a common key (i.e. SSN, etc.) that is in both systems so that we can load the data from one system and then update data from the other. Without that common key, it will require more of the client’s time to prepare the data for loading.


Migrating attachments can be very time consuming as the file storage is often quite a bit larger than the data. If you want to cut over from your existing system to Salesforce in one day, there may be a delay in getting all of the attachments migrated.

Many clients are keeping attachments outside of Salesforce (i.e. Box, Dropbox, S-Drive, Teams, etc.) and integrating them into Salesforce. By doing this, these attachments are accessible to users also.


The success of a Salesforce implementation directly depends on how your Users utilize it. Whether it is getting your employees to enter data correctly, or getting them to enter any data at all, poor Salesforce user adoption can really hold you back. This isn’t specific to Manufacturing Cloud either. It doesn’t matter what route your organization takes – getting your users onboard is priority number one. There is no gold standard for encouraging user adoption, but the following steps can be taken to ensure that your users understand and – more importantly – embrace Salesforce as a solution.

These adoption strategies go hand-in-hand with training your users. To start off your training strategy the right way, you’ll want to include detailed objectives and a delivery schedule.

You should also provide insight into your business objectives, so users understand what’s expected of them and what they can expect in return.

Salesforce Trailhead is free to use and the modules are a great place to start for hands-on training.

Items to Consider

  • Invest in Training – if you’re not going to educate your employees on where to enter data, how to enter it, and most importantly – why they’re entering data, how can you expect them to do it?
  • Adopt Salesforce Chatter to Get Everyone Involved – designed to be a social network for employees in your organization, Chatter utilizes a feed-style interface where you can make announcements and encourage feedback from your employees.
  • Customize Salesforce to Make it Easy – prior to implementation, conduct surveys on your different user groups and try to understand what works and what doesn’t work for them, as well as what type of customization will be necessary.
  • Make Clean Data a Priority – simply put, Salesforce runs on data. All your reports, dashboards, and everything in between will be a result of the data that lives within your Salesforce org. This brings us to our next step…
  • Enforce Data Entry – If it’s not in Salesforce, it didn’t happen. This is a common mantra that encourages compliance. For example, at the end of the month when your rep doesn’t see a commission check, they will know it is because their sales data was never in Salesforce to begin with. It’s important to not let them off the hook either.
  • But Make it Fun With Incentives – you can reward your users too, by utilizing adoption dashboards to track and display your top users. You can even create a running leaderboard of top users to foster healthy competition and give prizes to those who finish at the top.
  • Hire a Salesforce Admin – no matter the size of your organization, you’re going to need someone who is a Salesforce expert on your team. Your users will undoubtedly have questions on a day-to-day basis, and it will be extremely beneficial to have someone on board who can be readily available to help.
  • Get Senior Management Involved – as is the case with any business, it starts from the top. Having management get involved emphasizes to your users that this is an important undertaking. Management has a vested interest in the program’s success, so make sure they champion the platform across the enterprise. You will see their influence effect change throughout the organization.

This publication contains general information only and Sikich is not, by means of this publication, rendering accounting, business, financial, investment, legal, tax, or any other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, nor should you use it as a basis for any decision, action or omission that may affect you or your business. Before making any decision, taking any action or omitting an action that may affect you or your business, you should consult a qualified professional advisor. In addition, this publication may contain certain content generated by an artificial intelligence (AI) language model. You acknowledge that Sikich shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by you or any person who relies on this publication.

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