You may be trying to understand “What is a CRM system and why do manufacturers need it?” Your sales reps depend on long-term relationships. They have customer relationships that stretch back many, many years, and they have a high level of your internal product knowledge.
Sales, also, can be a very long process. Deals don’t just happen overnight, and some of them can be very complex. Manufacturers don’t generally target customers, meaning that they don’t focus in on customers’ needs and requirements as much as they should. So sellers are often trying to figure out how to handle all of this as well as how to manage all of those different types of activities that are, traditionally, not common for them.
CRM from a sales perspective
So what can a modern CRM solution really offer the organization? Well, first and foremost, from a sales management perspective, it offers visibility into the sales pipeline. A CRM system will eliminate the need to collect Excel spreadsheets from your sales team, try to update them on a regular basis, and then have that updated and presented on to executive leadership. With a CRM, sales departments will have all of this information in real-time, all together.
Also, a CRM will help manufacturers understand really where their teams are engaged with customers and understand the level of relationship. How many times are they on the phone with them? How much interaction are they really having? Manufacturers can have real, true visibility into all of the sales activities that are taking place within the organization.
By doing that, you’re really going to get an understanding of the level of involvement that you’re having in customer care. Are you responding to your customers in a timely fashion? Is the sales department requesting answers in a timely fashion? All of this helps reduce the risk of losing customers and maintaining that cemented relationship you need to have.
Challenges in getting value from CRM
One of the biggest challenges organizations face when implementing CRM is user adoption. User adoption is the single biggest reason why implementations fail. The users in sales will ask questions such as “Why would I need a new sales system if I’m successful in hitting my target?” and “Why do I need to update you on all this information?”
So how can we get user adoption to be simple and easy and get your organization involved and engaged? The answer is to keep the scope of the implementation simple.
For starters, find a CRM implementation partner that understands the difference between what manufacturers need and what retail organizations need. These are two completely different types of businesses, with completely different types of requirements. The implementation partner should also understand potential changes in the manufacturer’s growth to ensure that the CRM system evolves as the organization evolves. In other words, the implementation partner must be willing to get the users involved in the implementation, to help the partner configure the CRM exactly how the users need it to. This is critical to ensure your organization will get the most value out of the CRM system.
A phased implementation plan is key
When you’re ready for implementation, be sure to take it slow when rolling out features. Don’t implement all of the functionality you see right away. You can easily (and quickly) overwhelm your sales department, which will then lead to low user adoption. We recommend the Crawl-Walk-Run approach.
In the beginning, give the users a basic system that gives the sales leadership access to the information needed in a timely fashion. Focus on the ease of use. Make it simple. Give the users workflows and easy-to-use, easy-to-understand training material. Support the users to help them feel confident.
Most importantly, communicate with these users often. Don’t surprise them with the new system at training; get them involved in configuring the system to how they need it to behave. Incentivize those users to adopt the system by adding information they need to the new system and not the old. They will go to that application in order to get their information, and while they’re there, they’ll update other records.
Once the users are comfortable crawling and walking, it’s time to set them up for running to the future. Roll out new features as time goes on. Encourage your users to tell you what they need from the CRM system to do their jobs more efficiently. When they come to you saying that they like this one thing, but they need it to do this other thing to be more effective, you know your implementation was successful. You’ve gotten sales to think how the CRM system will work better for them, which in the end means it will work better for the manufacturer as a whole.
Ready to start looking into a CRM implementation? Please contact one of our experts at any time!