Within the framework of manufacturing sales is a wide variety of sales processes, needs, and challenges. A contract manufacturer will have unique requirements that will differ greatly from a precision engineering company. Sales cycles can be long and drawn-out, or they can be straightforward upsell opportunities that require significantly less resources.
However, there is one thing that all manufacturing sales teams always need: the ability to project their earnings. Every sales rep needs visibility into their closed sales, and every sales manager needs visibility into the rep's pipeline.
This requires a digital sales platform that performs intuitive pipeline management. With such a platform, opportunities and leads can be tracked across lifecycle phases and key touchpoints.
Importing Leads from Unstructured Data
In manufacturing firms still using legacy systems, sales reps need to work with sales reps work with large spreadsheets or CAD files. These are unstructured data sets that can be result in time-consuming manual work. They can also be outdated, and require manual updates via emails.
This manual way of doing things is not by choice. However, manufacturing businesses are facing challenges digitalizing their sales process, because of siloed systems. Sales reps who try to make sense of their data, need to navigate pages of emails and files to gather the necessary data—an inefficient way of doing things to say the least.
“Because 80% of the data in companies is unstructured, organizations need to understand the types of unstructured data they are accumulating and the best ways to process and store this data for business advantages.” – TechRepublic
In this complex scenario, a manufacturing-focused digital sales platform is the ideal solution. It is fully integrated with back-end systems (ERP), and has CRM and CPQ capabilities that are designed to handle the complexities of manufacturing sales.
A digital sales platform with built-in CRM features can organize unstructured data, and help sales reps extract the most profitable leads automatically.
From contact information to Auto-CAD designs, to configuration and quotes produced; a great manufacturing digital sales platform should meet all these manufacturing requirements.
Managing Leads through Pre-defined stages and Steps
With a digital sales platform, sales reps can segment leads, and prioritize each lead according to its the lifecycle stage. It can also set pre-defined stages and steps that each sales rep needs to go through to close a sale. These stages can differ across companies, even those in the same manufacturing vertical.
Sales managers have the flexibility to define each stage according to their unique requirements, and build the sales funnel that guides each rep towards success.
This helps sales reps prioritize their daily sales activities, and will allow them to focus on the hottest, most profitable opportunities for the quarter.
If there are approval stages or engineering input is required, these pre-defined stages can be set up within the system to help keep everyone accountable, on time, and on track.
Complete Visibility into Sales Pipeline for Managers
One of the most critical capabilities of a digital sales platform is to improve pipeline management. Its tight integration with the back-end ensures only the most accurate and updated data. This data can help ensure forecast accuracy for sales managers while helping sales reps keep their pipeline neatly organized with the most appropriate leads.
A digital sales platform will also provide powerful dashboards so that sales teams can extract information at a glance. For the most accurate forecasts, manufacturers can use probability-based forecasting. It allows for weighted measurement of opportunities—crucial for sales reps, who might be able to hit their targets with one large sale.
Using a digital sales platform, data can be analyzed to create sales management dashboards. Sales performance and activity can be monitored easily, eliminating the need for lengthy meetings that eat into a sales rep’s precious selling time.
Sales managers can also be assured of periodic updates, thanks to the digital sales platform's data analysis capabilities. Sales managers can easily stay updated on the latest opportunities, and projections of recurring revenue and variances in the dashboard.