Manufacturing companies have their own unique perspective on the best value that a CRM system can provide. Even (or especially) in these days of COVID-19, accurately predicting demand for each product takes on a different importance for manufacturers. Many manufacturers are managing a complex supply chain with critical paths that involve expensive raw materials and components or perhaps items that have a long lead time. So how should your company choose the best CRM for Manufacturing?
This is the first in a series of blog posts identifying and analyzing different facets of CRM for Manufacturing. Throughout the series, we will be using our Dynamics 365 Connector for SYSPRO as an illustrative example, but the principles hold for any CRM solution. Make sure there is a package or toolset that can cost-effectively provide you with the real-time information you need right in the CRM system. For this post, we are going to concentrate on visibility.
Although globalization seems to be under threat, we still live in a world of ‘Just in Time’ supply chains.
- The Levelling: What’s Next After Globalisation – Michael O’Sullivan
- Has covid-19 killed globalisation? – The Economist, May 14th 2020
Your manufacturing company is likely to be part of a critical path for many of your customers. How does that impact your CRM and how can your CRM impact your business? In various ways including, but not limited to:
- Quickly and Accurately informing your customers when you can supply their critical purchase
- Identifying your best customers so you can allocate scarce inventory and attention to those most deserving and profitable for you
- Proactively notifying your customers in the event of a Supply Chain disruption
Most likely your salespeople are often asked “Do you have that in stock?”. Let’s take that a level higher and ask “When can we supply that?” Your salespeople can sell more efficiently and effectively if they can give their prospects and customers immediate and concrete information on current and future availability.
Can CRM provide that information? By itself, no, it cannot. In many cases, CRM for Manufacturing means making key information visible in CRM by integrating information from other systems such as ERP and Supply Chain Management.
When a prospective customer asks “When can I have it?”, how confidently can your salespeople respond “I can get you x units today and the rest in y days”? You must select a CRM system that
- Can gather and display very specific information regarding your products
- Has access to up to date information from the system that controls it
In other words, your CRM must be highly configurable so that it can store and display whatever information is relevant to your products AND it must have the capability of integrating with your ERP and/or Supply Chain Management system to retrieve the most accurate and timely data.
The other side of the first question is whether you should be focusing on this particular customer or prospect at all. Are they in good standing with us? Are they an “A” customer or a “C” customer? What items do they normally buy? How quickly do they pay?
Again, CRM solution alone is not the source of the best information on each customer’s creditworthiness or current balance. CRM for Manufacturing must have the ability to retrieve that information from the accounting or ERP system and present it clearly for the sales team and other CRM users.
Please note that we are not just talking about whether a customer is “On Hold” or not. Effective Sales involves looking for customers that have bought a particular product before, that have a high sales volume with your company, that have a good payment history, and more.
We are most familiar with the SYSPRO ERP system, which is designed primarily for manufacturing companies and has received numerous awards for excellence as an ERP solution for manufacturers. Since many SYSPRO companies also use Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement (CRM), we have developed a CRM for Manufacturing package that includes a suite of integration points between SYSPRO and CRM. It is important to note that
- The integration points (and therefore your CRM itself) MUST be configurable to your specific needs and
- The Dynamics 365 Connector for SYSPRO is only an example of how your CRM should work with other systems
When CRM is integrated using the Dynamics 365 Connector for SYSPRO, CRM users can see all the relevant product information, inventory availability data, and customer details from SYSPRO. Using the standard CRM clients (browser, tablet, phone) they gain access to whatever SYSPRO data they need – a prime example of CRM for Manufacturing.
Now there is some homework for you to do. Find out what your CRM users actually want and need to see in CRM (whether you are looking to implement CRM for sales, customer service, order fulfilment, or whatever). Make a list.
Next, determine if the CRM systems you are considering have the flexibility to store and display that data.
Third, determine which system is the “Master” system for the information your CRM users need (often this is obvious simply by asking the users where they currently go to find it).
Also, determine how up to date the information needs to be. Inventory availability is usually something that has to be as close as possible to real time. Customer credit details, however, might be acceptable if they are a few minutes or even an hour old.
Last but not least, find out if the data can be extracted from the existing system and updated in the proposed CRM quickly, accurately, and cost-effectively.
Dominic Systems Limited specializes in CRM for Manufacturing – please Contact Us for a no obligation Discovery Consultation.
Please come back and check our blog regularly. Our next post in the Choosing a CRM for Manufacturing series will look at Order Processing. If you have a comment regarding this post or a suggestion for a future post on this or any other topic, please Comment (below).