Research from Capterra indicates that among 500 businesses surveyed, while CRM software is widely adopted among sales teams in general, only about 6 percent of manufacturing companies have adopted it. We think that number should be much higher!
If you’re undecided about investing in CRM software, check out our top reasons why using a crm gives you an advantage in the manufacturing and industrial space:
Improved data management
At its core a CRM is a database for storing and retrieving information about your prospects and customers. Contact information, company and account data, sales cycle and deal information can all be entered and organized in one central place.
You’ll gain easy access to all of your contacts when you need by keeping your data “clean” and consistent, which includes:
- Deciding how your data is structured (such as by account, by last name, by location) and what rules you’ll use to add new data. For example, will you create a separate account entry for each of a company’s 10 locations or one “parent” account record?
- Setting rules for normalizing data - here’s an example of all the possible ways to enter the same job title to see what we mean. You’ll need to settle on one format, make sure everyone who does data entry knows what that format is, and then stick with it (and update any that are entered incorrectly). Normalizing data means your searches don’t miss anyone simply because someone entered Engineering, Director of instead of Director of Engineering!
- Taking time to check for and remove duplicates periodically. This helps keep lists and counts accurate. And prevent duplicates by reminding staff to search before adding a new record.
Alignment and lead management
A CRM is a single, centralized tool for sharing information between all of your Client Facing Teams: marketing, inside sales, outside sales, and customer service. Everyone can access customer records to add newly discovered information, correct errors, update phone numbers, and add notes about customer preferences.
The flip side is everyone can view the background on each customer or prospect they encounter too – that’s a boon to developing new content, crafting a new sales pitch, and even remembering to call someone by the correct name. In other words, if everyone has the same information, everyone can do their part of the job better.
Cloud-based CRMs can also be accessed on your desktop or on the go by phone or tablet, which means the data is always at hand.
Customization options can foster teamwork, for example:
- Define the fields and terminology used in your records. Decide on the labels, categories, and words that the entire CFT can agree on. You’ll eliminate comparing “apples to oranges” miscommunication if you set up the database with this kind of shared understanding.
- Create fields and drop-down menu options for the exact things you want to track. For example, job title is standard, but you might opt to add “role” with options for decision maker, influencer, equipment operator, administrator. Tailor categories to the information that’s most useful to how your team operates.
- Schedule tasks and define your own sales cycle stages. This lets everyone see at a glance where each customer or prospect is, which team member is working with them, and where they will go next. It’s a great way to streamline and safeguard the handoff process, keeping records from falling through the cracks.
Metrics and KPIs
When your data is clean and normalized and everyone is using the CRM consistently, you can be confident that reports and metrics are accurate. Capturing details like touch dates, call outcomes, or deal values means you can measure things like average time to close, cost per lead, and even how much of your business is coming from what portion of your customers.
Most CRMs let you track where a customer or prospect is in the sales cycle (or quickly find where they got stuck). But you can also review records for clues about customer engagement, for example:
- Individual records indicate which emails a customer was sent and (more importantly) which ones they opened. Adding notes about phone conversations keep a record of questions customers asked, complaints they made, or needs they described.
- Running reports allows you to review groups of records by segment, industry, stage, or other category to glean larger trends. For example, you can determine if version A or B of the spring sale email had more opens, discover how often people are calling customer service about a software glitch, or track if they’re using the phone or the website more often to contact reps.
A CRM might not be a crystal ball but it can help sales and marketing operations managers see what’s coming down the pipeline more easily. And with this enhanced vision into who’s close to a sale or where things are lagging comes the ability to plan how to allocate time and resources for the next quarter, month, or week. It also has a ripple effect, showing what’s coming in terms of demand, buying trends, possible effects on production and supply chain needs.
Is a CRM the only tool available for organizing and accessing your data? It’s true you could do most of the things we’ve talked about here with a spreadsheet. But a CRM includes additional functionality that lets you manage your data in ways that are meaningful and useful to your unique company. With some planning, you can set it up to collect data just the way you want it so you can later find exactly what you need. As your business grows, you’ll save time and money over dealing with an unwieldly spreadsheet.
Are you currently using CRM software? If you have one, do you use it to its full potential (put another way, can you see your business growing as a result of implementing it)? If you answered no to either of these questions, let’s talk! Please contact us about what CRM, and Acadia, can do for you.