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There are three make-or-break factors when considering a CRM manufacturing software, as mentioned in our previous blog, but every software also has an associated cost – we can’t get around that. However, the real cost that many companies don’t consider is the opportunity cost of NOT having a CRM.

When it comes to investing in a CRM system, it’s important to think the investment/benefit analysis through completely in terms of value vs. cost. Major CRM platforms are transparent with their cost; what isn’t quite so apparent is the build-out required to tailor that ‘box’ system into what you really need for your specific workflows and then to fully integrate it with your existing systems. Your systems need to ‘talk’ to each other. And backend systems need to be thoughtfully configured to be seamless.

While business as a whole has been going digital, manufacturing has continued to be successful by using spreadsheets, index cards, phone calls, individual calendars, and individual emails. So it is a cultural and mental shift (or journey) to understand the significant potential ROI (return on investment) of an integrated CRM system. This is especially true when your manufacturing business is going really well. Why? Because there’s not a lot of consideration for the dollars you’re losing due to a lack of technology where there’s good cash flow.

Here are some of the practical benefits of having a CRM. A CRM would allow employees to tag-team accounts to deliver better, more cohesive service and make sure that everything is handled without overlapping responsibilities. It would facilitate fact-checking with different teams and collaboration between them. It would short-circuit potential miscommunication errors and show exactly where every relationship and project is at a glance.

You can see trends, backed by data, to catch product or shipping vendor misfires. You can see where product supplies are lacking to meet projected demand ahead of time. You can increase your capability for effective risk management. You can strengthen quality management practices, recall protection protocols, pursue continuous improvement more effectively and ensure regulatory compliance. A singular platform helps you grow and take care of your employees, customers, partners, vendors, and stakeholders.

What stops manufacturers from opting to get a CRM system or updating the one they have? According to the Customer Relationship Management Systems (CRM) for Manufacturers Research Study, Manufacturing.net, March 2016, 11% of respondents were unsatisfied with their CRM system, and an additional 35% were neutral toward theirs; however, survey comments indicated that the age of the system, underutilization of all the features and functionality available or a combination of both is playing into those numbers. And that IS one of the hidden costs that may not be considered until much further in the CRM buying process (and a motivator for writing this post).

Does a CRM Make Sense for Your Manufacturing Company?

The first time you see a CRM demo, you will think no – this doesn’t make sense for our company. That’s because it needs to be customized to fit your business needs, wants, targets and workflows. But maybe – just maybe – your manufacturing company doesn’t need one. Let’s explore further…

Remember, a CRM is not just about sales but about forecasting product-level needs (tracking the scheduling, purchasing, ordering of parts, etc.). However, to get the full view of every piece of the process, a lot of work has to go into it. Your CRM needs to integrate with your ERP and other aspects of your system. Your users need to be comfortable with it (proper training goes a long way here). And you need to know that the system will flex and scale with your business growth.

There are trends in the greater business environment that are affecting how business is done, not the least of which is the move into mobility. Business now happens from the palm of your hand – your smartphone, tablet or watch, all of which access data from what used to be separate systems that are now integrated and accessible from whatever device you are using to take care of business in the moment. You can see information as you need it so there’s no waiting until you get back to the office. Gone are the days when your traveling sales reps need to spend long evening hours back at their hotel logging their notes from the day. It’s all about real-time information and convenience.

This means your field sales and service reps can be more efficient. You can get higher-quality leads as they are immediately assessed and processed in the moment. Your sales reps can access ERP data to open a quote or see sales history while in the selling conversation. When you introduce (or acquire) new products, your CRM can reveal opportunities for cross-selling between divisions or territories. Products that are assets can be linked to individual customers and tracked to determine experience and potential upgrade scheduling. You can gather customer feedback with an email survey and store that in your CRM.

So, do you have field sales reps? Do you want to facilitate collaboration between team members? Do you want to project sales and product supply cohesively? Do you want to build same-day estimates? Do you want to take advantage of cross-sell opportunities? Do you want to track products as assets? Do you want to automate your marketing and sales activities? Do you want a unified data source to pull from in looking at a customer’s total experience?

The Bottom Line

Manufacturing companies have gotten by for a long time without CRM systems or without upgrading the ones they have in place. The question becomes: how much efficiency do you want in your operation? What do you stand to lose by “just getting by”?

By uniting your systems to automatically track and produce data on every piece of your manufacturing process, you increase efficiency, reduce cost, make customers happier, have better quality products and improved customer service which leads to a longer customer lifecycle and referrals.

Getting the right CRM together is not about the cost – it’s about what it’s costing you to NOT have (the right) one.

We would love to hear about what’s happening in your company to see if exploring a CRM, the right CRM makes sense. On behalf of XTIVIA, I invite you to complete the form below so we can schedule some time together. Let’s see if we can neutralize the considerations, manage the cost and increase your customer happiness. In the end, that’s what it’s all about anyway.

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