Digitalization concerns all businesses and more particularly manufacturing in Quebec and more broadly in Canada. For the manufacturing sector, we are talking more specifically about Industry 4.0. The use of new technologies such as robotics, big data and artificial intelligence should allow manufacturing companies to improve their sales performance. Among the solutions of the Industry 4.0 concept, we can mention the CRM. To be fully effective, this customer relationship management tool must be combined with ERP or Enterprise Resource Planning.
The reality of manufacturing companies
A satisfied clientele is a guarantee of sustainability for a company. And the manufacturing sector in particular must take good care of it since its customer base is more limited. To gain the trust of potential customers and to keep the old ones, it is essential to know them well and to understand the different factors that influence their buying behavior. The establishment of a lasting relationship between the company and its customers is essential for the collection of usable data, hence the interest in equipping oneself with a CRM tool for customer relationship management (CRM).
What is the purpose of a CRM?
The customer is at the center of the operation of a CRM software. Manufacturing companies are indeed equipping themselves with such a tool:
To expand their customer base
A CRM software for manufacturing companies is a powerful marketing software that can push a lead to purchase. It centralizes all the data on these profiles and thus makes it possible to identify commercial opportunities. This information is essential to adapt the approach according to the behavior of each lead.
To retain former customers
Acquiring new customers is a time-consuming process, but above all it is costly. It would be 6 to 7 times more expensive than retaining old customers. A CRM tool facilitates the implementation of a marketing campaign capable of maintaining a lasting relationship with this type of customer.
The difference between CRM and ERP software
The CRM focuses on the interaction of the manufacturing company with its customers and allows to centralize their information. This database is then used to automate marketing campaigns and customer service. A CRM tool is very complete and can even establish analyses and inform strategic decisions.
An ERP or Enterprise Resource Planning software focuses on the production chain of a manufacturing company. It connects and manages the different departments. This tool is used to measure team performance and productivity. More concretely, an ERP tool can be used to manage stocks, plan schedules, produce estimates and can also be used for project management or workshop control.
It is also important to differentiate between an ERP and an EAP. An EAP (enterprise application platform) is a system that allows you to create, extend, manage and connect applications. Easier to develop than an ERP, it allows you to have a customized solution that can evolve with the needs of the company, all departments included. A CRM tool can be a key element in the implementation of an EAP.
The benefits of a CRM for a manufacturer
A CRM software allows you to optimize your customer relationship, but what is the real interest of taking care of this interaction with your customers?
To save time
A CRM tool allows you to automate repetitive tasks such as those associated with marketing campaigns. Teams can then focus on missions with a higher added value and increase their productivity. Such a tool can also include a customer service module and thus automate certain exchanges with customers, like chatbots.
To better know your customers
Knowing your customers, determining and anticipating their needs to better satisfy them is essential for manufacturing companies. The information gathered by CRM tools is always up to date and allows the sales department to better identify customer profiles and adapt its actions accordingly. This software is also useful for obtaining customer feedback. Constructive opinions help to improve the weak points of the products.
To measure the performance of marketing campaigns
A CRM tool can produce reports that measure the effectiveness of a marketing campaign. It compares the marketing costs with the revenues generated.
To personalize the customer relationship
The days of one-to-many strategies that aim to send the same content to its customers are over. To retain customers, but also to acquire new ones, it is now necessary to focus on the personalization of the customer relationship. The CRM combined with an automation tool allows for example to automate the sending of personalized messages to customers according to their evolution in the sales pipeline. This personalization improves the customer relationship.
To better anticipate demand
A CRM tool allows you to understand the current demands and by projection to determine those to come. It is therefore a solution that must be adopted to anticipate sales growth. This anticipation facilitates the planning and organization of resources, allows to fulfill an order in time, but also to better deal with unforeseen events. At the same time, it is also possible to use CRM software to optimize the supply chain. In this case, it must be combined with ERP software.
CRM and ERP, two complementary solutions
An ERP tool is essential for any manufacturing company, regardless of its size. Nevertheless, to transmit various production-related information to the sales team, the integration of a CRM solution into an ERP software is very advantageous. All information is centralized and does not need to be duplicated. The sales department will also be able to refer to the data provided by the production department to establish an accurate quote. Such a tool will also allow complex requests to be brought to the attention of the engineering department in the shortest possible time for a more detailed quote.
CRM and MRP, the new trend
MRP (Manufacturing Resources Planning or Materials Requirements Planning) is used to plan production resources in order to determine the products to be manufactured and the quantity required at a given date. In the manufacturing sector, the main objective of this tool is to evaluate the minimum stock to be produced to meet both current and future customer needs in order to limit production costs. As for the ERP, it can also integrate a CRM module.
To keep its customers, a manufacturing company must invest in a CRM solution, but not only. It is essential for an SME (Small and Medium Enterprise), a VSE (Very Small Enterprise) as well as for a larger manufacturing company to equip itself with this software, but also with ERP and MRP tools. The combined use of these three solutions allows to improve the efficiency of the teams and to increase the sales performance of the manufacturing company. Software publishers are well aware of this and offer powerful solutions with different functionalities such as the integration of a CRM module in an ERP or MRP tool.