SugarCRM for Manufacturers

SugarCRM for Manufacturers

The manufacturing sector is riding a wave of digital transformation. The adoption of new channels and technologies, such as consumerization of B2B, reduction in layers of distribution, the Internet of Things (IoT), Analytics, and AI, are disrupting traditional business models and creating new opportunities for growth.

Customer relationship management (CRM) solutions such as SugarCRM can serve as a hub of this transformation and help organizations turn transformation investments into revenue.

In this article, we will explore methods of implementing Sugar tailored for the manufacturing sector, with a focus on account management, customer communication, integration, and analytics.

Riding a wave of change

With distribution channels and sales models in flux, manufacturers recognize the importance of building relationships with their customers. As a result, they are investing in CRM systems to streamline customer communication, manage sales territories, analyze sales data, and enable the entire organization to service the customer on the customer's terms.

The advent of IoT is creating new opportunities to incorporate this technology with CRM in the manufacturing sector. IoT-enabled devices collect vast amounts of data from various sources, including machines, sensors, and supply chain systems. By integrating this data with Sugar, manufacturers can gain valuable insights into customer behavior and preferences, enabling marketers and sellers to make more informed decisions about product development, marketing strategies, and sales opportunities.

The use of hybrid sales models, combining both online and offline channels, and mixing inside sales with field sales, is increasingly prevalent (see McKinsey: The multiplier effect: How B2B winners grow) in the manufacturing sector. Sugar can provide crucial tools to manage these channels with omnichannel communication and ensure a frictionless customer experience across all touchpoints.

Retain and grow customers through a unified customer experience across Marketing, Sales, and Service

Manufacturers are often mature businesses that generate the bulk of their revenue from repeat purchases from existing customers.   When deploying Sugar CRM, manufacturing organizations need to take a balanced approach to deploy both tooling for existing account management as well as tools and processes for new customer acquisition. Deploying functionality that ensures existing customers are retained and continue to grow may be the greatest opportunity to generate additional revenue. 

Marketing automation tools provided by SugarCRM can help manufacturers communicate with their customers in a more personalized and timely manner. By basing customer marketing campaign segmentation on data gathered and augmented by the sales team, manufacturers can react to opportunities that can fuel very relevant content and thus greater customer engagement.

In addition to managing existing customer relationships, the Sugar CRM platform can also streamline the sales process and shorten sales cycles. By deploying best practice sales playbooks, automated workflows, quote and proposal automation, sellers will have tools to execute new customer sales cycles quickly and accurately.

It is not only sellers and marketers that maintain relationships with customers.  Manufacturing service agents often develop deep relationships and accumulate valuable information about customers.  The organization benefits when sales share a CRM platform with service agents.   Sellers can be alerted to increased support volumes or service requests that remain open for longer than they should.

CRM that fits like a glove. Configuring for specialty markets such as Machine Builders and Construction

Manufacturers often operate in niche markets, serving specific industries or customer segments. As a result, they require CRM systems that can be easily configured to meet the unique information and process needs of their target markets.

For manufacturers which sell to machine builders, for example, Sugar’s CRM platform can be tailored to track the machines for which the seller is seeking to provide components.   The sales process involves investigating opportunities related to specific machines.  Details about the machines are important to the sellers.  Does the machine operate in wet or dry environments, is it hot or cold? Where have we had success with this type of machine in the past? In addition to linking leads and opportunities to accounts and contacts, the CRM systems need to link to these machines that will be driving the demand.   The CRM system must be configurable enough to accomplish this to create the value expected from it.  The CRM system needs to be smart enough to help the seller quickly determine the right products to propose.

Similarly, CRM solutions for the construction industry need to be configured to relate the sales process to construction projects, involving multiple contractors and suppliers. Sugar’s manufacturing customers who have integrated with construction information services, such as Dodge Data or ConstructConnect, can automatically create opportunities from identified new construction projects and start the sales process early.

The manufacturing industry is under a big tent and there are many other specialized needs that require configuration flexibility from the CRM vendor.  Sugar is among the most configurable platforms available, and we are proud of the specialized needs which we have serviced.

Give more than you take: the value of rapid integration models for user adoption

Manufacturers typically have several systems, such as ERP, that provide valuable information to customer-facing teams.  These systems should be integrated with CRM but that usually comes with some cost of time and money.

Integration to email and calendar platforms such as Outlook and Gmail are critical, and you should expect your CRM to deliver this as a standard feature.  Some vendors such as SugarCRM go deep and integrate on the server side, so you have always on and close to real-time integration without any dependencies on the user’s desktop or mobile client.

Other than email and calendar, the most common integration is to ERP or accounting systems, so that the CRM system can include customers' orders and invoice history.  All customer-facing teams need access to this information.  Marketers need the information to be able to create campaigns based on purchase history, sellers need to understand purchase patterns and react to retention or expansion opportunities, and services need to know what products or services have been purchased.

Rapid integration models, based on ETL (extract, transform, load) or iPaaS (integration platform as a service) solutions, with prebuilt connectors can greatly reduce the cost of integration to ERP systems.   SugarCRM offers the Sugar Integrate line of rapid integration tools to fulfill this need.  In addition, Sugar has an extensive network of software partners that provide prebuilt integration to many other solutions used by manufacturers.

By choosing a CRM vendor that provides these capabilities, manufacturers can add value to their users, de-risk the project, and increase the speed of adoption of the new system.

Don't leave opportunities on the table: product sales analysis for improved customer retention and revenue generation

Sales leaders expect their customer account managers to know their customer's behavior and preferences well, but sometimes sellers can use a helping hand. Product sales analysis, which involves the examination of product and sales data at the item level, can help manufacturers identify trends and opportunities that may otherwise go unnoticed. 

By integrating item-level sales analysis capabilities into their CRM systems, manufacturers can more quickly gain a granular understanding of their product performance and customer preferences. This information can be used to help sellers quickly and systematically identify cross-sell and upsell opportunities, and target marketing campaigns more effectively.

Sales item analysis can also help manufacturers spot situations where they are losing market share with specific customers, enabling them to address problems before they impact customer satisfaction or revenue generation.

Shorten the sales cycle with quotation, proposal, and contract management tools

Manufacturers are often challenged by long and complex sales cycles. Deals involve multiple decision-makers, detailed technical investigations, lengthy negotiations, and multiple proposal revisions, over a prolonged period, which increases costs and introduces opportunity risk. 

Sugar also offers quotation, proposal, and contract management tools that can help manufacturers streamline their sales processes and shorten sales cycles. These tools enable sellers to generate quotes quickly, and accurately, by using easy-to-navigate product and pricing catalog information. Sugar also provides a centralized repository for storing and collaborating on proposals, ensuring that all stakeholders have access to the latest information.

Contract management tools within CRM systems can further expedite the sales process by automating the creation, negotiation, and approval of contracts. By reducing the time and effort required to finalize deals, manufacturers can increase their sales velocity and improve their bottom line.

Manufacturing is a precision business. That also applies to pipeline analytics and revenue forecasting

Understanding the sales pipeline dynamics is important to manage the sales force.  CRM systems such as Sugar provide robust pipeline and revenue analytics tools that help sales leaders make accurate forecasts and understand what is working and what is not.

At Sugar, we provide advanced pipeline and sales performance analytics tools.  Sales leaders are accountable to production planners for the planning of expected orders.  Sugar’s ability to track win rates, sales cycle time, performance to quota, and a range of other pipeline metrics makes a difference to our customer sales leaders.   Actionable understanding of sales pipelines is delivered to sellers in the form of our lead and opportunity AI-based predictions. 

These pipeline and revenue analytics capabilities are critically important to manufacturers and should be native capabilities of your chosen CRM platform.

Improve territory account coverage by adding mobile geographic mapping tools

By incorporating geographic mapping tools into their CRM systems, manufacturers can gain a clearer understanding of their sales territories and identify any areas that may be underserved.

Geographic mapping tools, such as those provided by SugarCRM, can help users visualize their territories, enabling them to plan their routes more efficiently and allocate their time more effectively. By analyzing data on customer locations, sales activities, and opportunity generation, manufacturers can identify any gaps in their account coverage and make informed decisions about territory realignment or resource allocation. 

Since your sales and service team may spend quite a bit of time in the field visiting accounts, ensure that your CRM incorporates the same mapping tools on the mobile CRM client.  This can enable route optimization and improve efficiency when your team is faced with last-minute meeting reschedules where they need to locate alternate closest accounts to visit.

Mapping tools can also be used to analyze market trends and competitor activity, providing manufacturers with valuable insights into potential growth opportunities and threats.

Helping sellers navigate complex customer organizations

Manufacturers often sell their products to large enterprises, which can have complex organizational structures and decision-making processes. To succeed in these environments, sales teams need to quickly navigate customer locations and identify the key stakeholders who can influence purchasing decisions.

Sugar can help sales teams navigate complex customer organizations by providing them with organization charts, contact information, and relationship insights. By visualizing the hierarchy of their customer organizations, filtering for buying centers versus shipping locations, and tracking their interactions with key decision-makers, sales teams can more effectively target their efforts and build relationships with the right people in the right locations.

Get closer to your customer with an IoT CRM strategy

The IoT revolution has created an unprecedented opportunity for manufacturers to forge deeper connections with their customers. By integrating IoT data into their CRM systems, manufacturers can deliver valuable insights to their marketers, sellers, and services about how their products are being used, enabling them to provide more personalized and proactive customer support.

For instance, manufacturers can use IoT data to monitor the performance of their products in real time, identifying potential issues before they become critical. By proactively reaching out to customers with maintenance suggestions or product updates, manufacturers can demonstrate their commitment to customer success and build long-lasting relationships.

Additionally, IoT data can help manufacturers' sellers and marketers identify potential upsell or cross-sell opportunities, based on customers' usage patterns and preferences. Armed with this information, sales teams can approach customers with targeted offers that are more likely to resonate and lead to increased revenue.

SugarCRM’s infrastructure partner, Amazon Web Services, has an extensive toolset to collect and analyze IoT information streams and to deliver the data to CRM systems such as Sugar.

Protect your margins by understanding the total cost of ownership of CRM solutions

When evaluating CRM solutions, manufacturers must consider not only the upfront costs of implementation but also the ongoing costs of maintenance and support. The total cost of ownership (TCO) of a CRM system can have a significant impact on a manufacturer's operating margins.  

To protect their margins, manufacturers should ensure that they understand the CRM vendor’s full pricing structure including fees for integration and data storage. Manufacturers should consider factors such as user training and support, the number of administrators required to take advantage of the desired feature set, and system maintenance.

SugarCRM is here to help manufacturers capitalize on digital transformation

As the manufacturing sector continues to undergo digital transformation, Sugar and other CRM systems will continue to play an important role in driving revenue growth and customer retention. By adopting CRM solutions tailored to their specific needs, manufacturers can capitalize on the opportunities presented by emerging technologies and customer engagement models.

Manufacturing is one of SugarCRM’s largest industry vertical markets.  We have a wealth of experience and success stories that we share with our customers.