Manufacturing operations today must generate efficiency in every aspect of their business to stay competitive. This often includes managing a large, complex ecosystem of employees, customers, suppliers, distributors and partners.
Achieving a full 360-degree view of your manufacturing operation can be a challenge. These five sales and marketing pitfalls below end up costing manufacturers money in lost productivity, customer service issues and missed sales opportunities.
Technology undoubtedly plays a massive role in your ability to streamline processes, build a better customer experience and improve profitability.
1. Not prioritizing system integration
Most manufacturers have a high degree of complexity to their products and services. The use of multiple disparate systems is common. But this means the same data is being duplicated in other systems, which creates added work for employees and an incomplete view of the customer. Many manufacturers put off integration projects because they can be quite complex and can drain internal resources if an outside firm is not used. However, this can be very limiting to reaching your growth and profitability goals because you aren’t getting the insights needed to drive sales growth and better allocate marketing dollars.
2. Continuing to use legacy systems
Disparate systems often include old legacy applications used by accounting, operations and other departments beyond sales and marketing. Although when planning long term, it’s best to think about new cloud-based systems, enabling old apps to work with new apps saves costs from upgrading to completely new systems all at once.
Legacy apps can be difficult but not impossible to integrate. Creating a custom integration will require a developer and you have to maintain that integration over time but can still be effective in connecting disparate systems. Keep in mind, however, this option is more of a patch and not a long-term solution.
3. Not enough time spent on process improvement
When implementing new technologies, a parallel effort must be made to improve processes and train people on new processes and integrated systems. Process change improves operational effectiveness but it usually involves deep analysis and change management, which doesn’t always come quickly or easily to manufacturers.
Simplify wherever possible and remove unnecessary or redundant steps in processes. It is very important to have the business well organized and controlled to better handle the added complexity.
Also, use and regularly update a change plan that is properly communicated to all people involved. Make sure the plan is well defined and potential obstacles or concerns are addressed. Communicate why old proccesses are not working and how the new processs will benefit users.
4. Low data quality
Passing bad data between systems only creates more problems for teams trying to use the data to improve customer engagement. For example, two sister companies selling different types of products each have their own data on the same customer. That data may be different in each system - it could have different spellings, inconsistent abbreviation usage or other free-form text input anomalies.
Low data quality, including duplicate data, incomplete data, incorrect data, and data that isn’t useful, is a growing problem that needs to be addressed. Your customer data is your greatest asset, but if you don’t have the systems and processes in place to govern that data properly, you could potentially be losing out on significant opportunities. You will also struggle to provide executives with the reports they need to understand how to make improvements and where they should spend marketing dollars.
5. Not taking the lead on innovation
One of the reasons so many manufacturers are choosing Salesforce is because of the nearly limitless customizations they can make to ensure it fits their unique business needs. Many CMOs and sales executives are building fully integrated technology solutions that transform the experience for their employees, customers and partner or dealer channels. The idea is to make Sales Cloud CRM the central hub of all customer engagement with solutions for marketing, customer service, quotation, order fulfillment and accounting solutions all connected seamlessly through the Salesforce open API.
Gartner estimates nearly all marketers in 2016 will differentiate their business on the customer experience. If you aren’t providing a seamless experience for your customers and dealers, that’s a clear sign you need major technology overhauls and an eye on innovation.