If you’ve read our recent piece on emerging trends in manufacturing you’re familiar with learned how businesses are leveraging these trends to drive sales. This post looks at the sector through a different lens, discussing some of the key obstacles modern manufacturing businesses face on a daily basis.
The challenge: inefficient reporting and lack of visibility into sales and account performance
It’s an all-too-familiar story. Your sales teams have the data you need, but it’s scattered across reports, email and ERP systems, none of which talk to each other. How can you confidently make sales forecasts and present figures to your stakeholders when you can’t get a clear picture of what those figures are? Of course, it’s not just a reporting problem: this challenge also affects the front line sales and service teams as they can’t see the information they need to do their jobs effectively.
The solution: real-time forecasting and performance reporting
Full-featured CRM systems like Sugar have a built-in forecasting module to help sales managers understand performance versus forecast, and what it will take to make their number. Sales managers can use real-time forecasting and sales opportunity information to accurately predict demand and sales projections based on real input from distributors and sellers. No more chasing the paper trail. No more guesswork. Just a single source of truth.
The challenge: time consuming manual quoting and proposal generation
If your organization is still using Excel, email or Word to create proposals and quotes, you’re not alone – in fact, you’re probably in the majority. However, manual quoting is time consuming, inconsistent and prone to error. What’s more, the configuration of the quote or proposal doesn’t provide guidance for complimentary or required items based on previous product selections. The net result is a disparate, inefficient system with no clear template.
The solution: quote and proposal automation
Sugar’s Quote Management enables businesses to efficiently configure, manage and deliver robust quotes. Sales teams leverage product catalogs to drag and drop line items into quotes where they can dynamically group, reorder, apply discounts, and add comments to build accurate, multi-currency invoices and quotes.
In addition to Sugar’s quoting module, there are excellent third-party plugins for building multi-page proposal documents that incorporate video and electronic signing. For organizations with multi-stage quoting logic where required items and options depend on client selections, a Configure-Price-Quote (CPQ) integrated into CRM may be the answer.
The challenge: lack of coordination between sales and marketing
Modern sales teams need good air cover from their marketing teams. But more often than not, salespeople don’t get the support they need. To keep your business top-of-mind between visits or calls, sales teams need to be able to provide clients and prospects with interesting, relevant content that will nurture the relationship. They also need to see how their clients and prospects are interacting with that content so they can use it as signals to engage. Last but certainly not least, sales teams need to be able to easily feed intelligence and insights from the field back into marketing, so that they can use that intel to shape their approach moving forward.
The solution: marketing automation
Marketing automation works with your website and CRM as one integrated system to attract the right people, automatically nurture them until they’re ready to purchase, then close the sale and drive repeat business.
Importantly, it brings the sales and marketing teams closer together: marketing is able to do more prospect education and nurturing, so the leads delivered to the sales team are better qualified. Even better, sales people working in the CRM can see the full prospect history, including which web pages they’ve visited. This helps the sales person understand what a prospective customer is most interested in and how they can best be of assistance. Thanks to Sugar’s recent acquisition of marketing automation platform Salesfusion, existing Sugar customers can easily build marketing automation into their CRM.
The challenge: time wasted on data entry and building reports
Too many organizations ask their sales teams to spend valuable time building reports for managers. It’s just not a good use of their time. When salespeople are bogged down in administrative tasks instead of doing what they do best, sales suffer.
The solution: a CRM that does the job for you
All of the data that managers need should already live and breathe in your CRM system. Not only does this ensure accuracy and reliability, it means anyone can pull that data – anywhere, any time. When you’re working with a system that has built-in tools to eliminate the burden of tedious data entry and time-consuming updates, everyone wins.
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