Challenges are not new. They are evolving.
In manufacturing, business complexity is nothing new. However, manufacturers have to manage it, along with four main market challenges that are always evolving. This scenario forces manufacturers to be on their toes at all times, and cope by constantly rethinking their sales strategies or even business models.
Challenge 1: Global competition
Globalization is not a new challenge for manufacturers. But with the rise of digital opportunities, manufacturers across the globe are able to sell and market to the same customers. The digital economy is giving manufacturers a more extended reach than ever before. Local manufacturers now have to compete against manufacturers based in other parts of the world. With competition intensifying, slim margins usually tighten even more.
Challenge 2: Customer expectations
B2B decision-makers now comprise a very different demographic compared to 10 years ago. They are now mostly consumerist millennials, who have a distinct preference for buying digitally due to their positive interactions with Amazon-style B2C online buying. They demand a seamless and smooth customer experience. They expect customization for already complex products and solutions. They want matching service offers, convenient purchasing, and self-service models, and at the very least, high responsiveness and better customer service.
Transformation of manufacturing sales requires a deeper understanding of just what makes it complex. To learn more, download our latest ebook, the Manufacturing Sales Handbook.
Challenge 3: Market volatility
Manufacturers traditionally struggle with market volatility. Factors such as raw material prices, labor costs, or political changes can affect their supply chains and sales markets. Global economic fluctuations can impact a less agile industry, such as manufacturing, disproportionally harder than other sectors. A recent example would be the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic put a hard stop to face-to-face sales interactions which were the preferred way of B2B manufacturing sales. Supply chains slowed to a crawl due to restrictions that took businesses offline for weeks.
Challenge 4: Industry 4.0 opportunities
The fourth industrial revolution has opened new doors for manufacturers. They now have access to technology that can transform their productivity, speed, and flexibility. Emerging technology like cyber-physical production systems (CPPSs), Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Assisted Intelligence, and Cloud Computing helps manufacturers build smarter factories.
One of the primary opportunities arising is the cost-efficient production of mass-customized products in a lot size of one. The challenge, however, is that manufacturers might not be agile enough to adopt these new technologies and lack clear strategies to implement emerging technology successfully.
Summary: Accelerate digitalization to keep up
These four challenges can’t be resolved easily and will not go away soon. In addition, they are also constantly evolving along with the solutions that manufacturers use to manage their challenges. One of them is the digitalization of manufacturing sales.
Manufacturers have been turning to leading IT vendors to help digitalize the sales process. However, they are not achieving the results that they expect. The problem here is not with sales digitalization, but rather the approach.
Instead of adapting existing solutions from multiple vendors to manage digital gaps in the sales process, manufacturers need to start considering the sales process as a holistic problem. And approach it as such.
To accelerate sales digitalization, manufacturers have to realize is that best-of-breed solutions may not be the best fit solution. Force-fitting general-purpose solutions can cause manufacturers to spend more time and money on implementation.
That’s because manufacturing sales is inherently much more complex than sales in other sectors. And the digital sales solution a manufacturer onboards needs to be built to handle it.
A manufacturing-focused digital sales platform will also have minimum viable product capabilities that can manage the complex manufacturing sales cycle from quotation to aftersales and beyond.
To understand how your manufacturing business can overcome these evolving challenges, download our Manufacturing Sales Handbook to read more. In this handbook, we outline the manufacturing sales solutions that leading manufacturers are already using to uncover the opportunities of tomorrow.