Most of us in the manufacturing industry are familiar with the notion of the ‘hidden factory’—productive capacity locked away in inefficiencies such as slow-running machines, lengthy setups, and yield losses. Remove those inefficiencies, and—voilà—you’ve created extra production capacity, exactly as if you’d extended the factory.
But suppose your business had a ‘hidden sales team’—and that it was possible to unlock its capacity, as well?
Well, you can—by implementing a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software system.
And the good news is that not only can CRM software increase sales by up to 30%, but that it also delivers a number of other valuable benefits. Benefits such as happier customers, better-served customers, more loyal customers—and consequently, more profitable customers.
Let’s take a look.
Customer-centric data capture
CRM software has travelled a long way from its early roots in the sales team automation systems of a few years back.
Indeed, CRM software is arguably no longer about sales automation at all. Instead, it’s about capturing—and analysing—every interaction with customers, whatever the touch point within the business.
And those touch points don’t have to be individual people, but any transaction or communication carried out by the customer—a web purchase, an e-mail, a phone call, a direct purchase from a salesperson, or a conversation with that salesperson. Whatever its nature, CRM software captures it.
Knowledge is power
Why capture all this data? Well, some people answer this question with talk of Big Data, basket analysis, market segmentation, and predictive analytics.
I think that there’s an easier way to get across the power of CRM software. And that’s by looking at how it works in practice. Simply put, CRM software provides you with a complete picture of every interaction that customers have with your business—knowledge that you use to engage those customers more effectively.
As an example, just think about how much your bank knows about you, when you telephone, or meet with someone in a branch.
With visibility into every transaction you’ve made, every account you have, and the personal data that it holds on, your bank knows more about you than many of your friends—thanks to its CRM software system.
Another example: the rich picture that Amazon.com builds up on each of us, in order to offer us precisely targeted suggestions that (for me at least!) are usually highly accurate. Again, it’s Amazon’s self-developed CRM software that performs the magic.
B2C and B2B
Now, it’s no secret that CRM software’s early successes were in companies—such financial institutions—with a business-to-consumer sales model.
But companies in the business-to-business space are also investing in functionally rich CRM software, because they see the benefits that it can offer.
Companies such as contract manufacturers and engineering-to-order manufacturers with lengthy sales cycles, for instance, find that CRM software provides a 360-degree view of the entire sales process, which can be especially useful when bids have to be circulated through several internal departments.
Others point to the rise of ‘servitisation’-based business models, and the growing number of manufacturers undertaking aftermarket field service. As the number of customer touch points within the average business multiplies, the need for CRM software becomes ever-more pressing.
Satisfied customers are profitable customers
Some people like to point to the increased sales that are often associated with CRM software. Those sales are very real, and yes, CRM software has an undoubted role to play during the sales cycle and the sales process itself.
Equally, CRM software also helps a business to better serve its customers—and this too helps to build sales, by creating customers who are happier and more loyal.
Either way, CRM offers manufacturers a clear opportunity. But is your manufacturing business taking advantage of it?