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Must-Have Manufacturing CRM Features

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Charlie Spaneas
  • Build Customer Loyalty
  • Manage Customers, Prospects, and Supply Chain
    • Integration with Outlook
  • Manage the Sales Process
    • Powerful &  Accurate Forecasting Tools
    • Quoting Software for Manufacturing
  • Affordable ERP Integration
  • Marketing Automation
  • Customer Support
  • Dashboard and Reports
  • Flexibility for all Business Sizes


Build Customer Loyalty

Improved quality and granular forecasting are big reasons why manufacturers need a CRM. However, a powerful CRM is an unrivaled tool for earning and keeping a customer’s loyalty over the long term. CRMs provide data that’s critical to forging personalized and responsive customer relationships.

CRM tracks everything from warranties, repair information, and service issues and calls. Communicating this information ensures customers receive the kind of service and attention they deserve. For example, CRM software can alert and show reports of top customers’ activities.

Access to customer information can also lower the expense of servicing customers. Your team has the right information and can trigger actions that address potential problems before they arise.

Manage Customers, Prospects, and Supply Chain

Data can only be powerful when it is easy to communicate and understand. Manufacturers have a network of distributors, resellers, suppliers, and customers. Each group requires visibility into important information. Having real-time information helps any of these companies relate to each other.

CRM systems provide visibility into critical areas like supply and demand. CRMs increase customer loyalty while identifying new trends and opportunities.

Integration with Outlook
Like a lot of industries, some manufacturing businesses have an aging workforce. This is particularly true when it comes to existing sales teams. It is critical that the salespeople will actually use your CRM System. The ability to integrate a CRM so that it syncs well with email systems like Outlook is part of that equation.

Most employees, especially older salesforces, tend to resist change. CRMs allow users to create appointments and activities in Outlook and update them automatically in the CRM. This will elevate CRM usage and make it a recognized part of your business culture.

CRMs with a plugin for Outlook offer an alternate way to use the software. Sales reps that are comfortable using Outlook only need to click a button to update their CRM. It will speed up the learning curve and increase the use of the CRM.

Manage the Sales Process

The manufacturing industry was the first to embrace high-tech tools like robots and Artificial Intelligence (AI). However, personal relationships remain the foundation of any company’s success. CRM for manufacturers makes it easier for account managers to cultivate personal relationships.

CRM systems provide the information to make the most of engagements and track data for better account planning. Salespeople have real-time information for the customer while prospecting for new business. Every team has an updated overview of the entire sales cycle.

Powerful &  Accurate Forecasting Tools

Manufacturing CRMs predict everything from product demand to future revenue and profits. For example, using a CRM means that a factory can have the right amount of products to meet customer demand. Companies need this information faster than competitors without having excess inventory.

CRM software allows forecasting based on actual numbers instead of best guesses. Having this data in real numbers is important, not just for inventory management. Managing sales pipelines is easier when there’s a bi-directional flow of information from operations and sales.

A sophisticated manufacturing CRM also serves as a single source of truth for a company. Production details can be gathered from disparate sources and analyzed. Any process errors that harm product quality can be pinpointed and addressed quickly. Read our article, “Manufacturing, Supply Chain and Sales Forecasting with a CRM.”

Quoting Software for Manufacturing
Manufacturers focus on many areas like producing chemicals, making shoes or electronics. It’s vital that any manufacturing CRMs have an effective quoting tool. These tools must be supported by multiple price books and product catalogs. It should also be able to mail out templates directly from the CRM.

Affordable ERP Integration

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions provide valuable financial and operational information. Unfortunately, ERP systems can be difficult to train and use the application. Plus, it can be very expensive with lots of users.

Many employees only need CRM licenses when you integrate your ERP with your CRM. This cuts the cost of the ERP solution down and easier training with your CRM.

Most CRM solutions have open APIs that allow integrations with most ERP solutions. Integrations should be a one-time fee, not a recurring fee, based on the data transfer amount. During implementation, your CRM vendor will understand the data you want to integrate and how often it’s updated. Read our article, “ERP & CRM – Benefits of Integration.”

Marketing Automation

Manufacturers need an easy way to market their products to current customers and prospects. Marketing campaigns should be ongoing and focus on the customer’s interest. Campaigns can include emails, following up on tasks, and notifying sales at the right time.

Key Marketing Features:

  • Customized Email Marketing (merge fields)
  • Drip Campaigns (email open & click tracking)
  • Lead Scoring (rules-based)
  • Form Builders (for emails or your website)
  • Mobile Business Card Scanner (with free mobile app)
  • Collateral (Document) Management


Customer Support

Manufacturing companies with great customer service are essential. Once the salesperson closes the deal, your team must continue supporting the customer long-term. Everyone must real-time information to deliver quickly when a customer has questions or issues. Questions could be delivery dates or general product-related information.

Key Customer Service Features:

  • CRM Ticketing
  • Knowledgebase
  • Project Management


Flexibility for all Business Sizes

Manufacturing companies cover many sizes, from small businesses to large international companies. Regardless of the size of your business, you must find a CRM that grows with you as your business needs change.

Flexible CRM solutions should have a centralized database where the customer data resides. And then offer other features and modules per user. Not everyone in your company will need access to a complete CRM system. Users should have access to what they need while not paying extra for unused features.

Long-term Benefits of a CRM for Manufactures

Servicing customers at the lowest possible price is critical in establishing long-term relationships. Any successful manufacturer knows that one-time sales are a rarity. That makes having the tools to handle multiple transactions over the course of years or decades even more important.

A manufacturing CRM is also an essential tool for winning more business. All teams can share information about a purchase history and behavior to meet customers’ specific needs.

Done right, a CRM also improves internal cohesiveness. With a history of communication and customer transactions available for all to see, siloes of information are broken down.

This improves the customer experience by engaging with them and with the same context and message. The manufacturing business is always changing, but the need to please customers is always constant.