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The Ultimate Guide to Digital Sales for Manufacturing Companies

Posted by Leo Boon Yeow on Dec 21, 2020 2:40:31 PM
Leo Boon Yeow
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Accelerate manufacturing sales with a complete Digital Sales Platform

Introduction: The changing demands of your customer

The world of manufacturing is changing faster than ever before. 2020's COVID-19 pandemic was a wake-up call for businesses across the world. It called for the urgent need to accelerate digitalization across the organization to meet increasing customer demands, remain profitable, and beat the competition.

 

Your sales organization's challenges have amplified since the pandemic began. B2B customers were already tired of purchase inconveniences, quotation inaccuracies, long turnaround times and ultimately the lack of customer focus.

 

Today, your B2B manufacturing customers demand even more. They expect the same seamless shopping experience found in the B2C marketplace. That means they expect:

  • 100% tailored purchase experiences
  • Frictionless interactions
  • Speed and accuracy

 

Both, B2B customers and sales team have little tolerance for drawn-out sales processes. The solution is incorporating a fully digital sales process. We hope this guide can help you learn how to become a digital leader—and achieve this success.

 


Table of contents
  1. Traditional vs Digital Sales Processes
  2. Critical Components of a Digital Sales Platform
  3. A Holistic Approach to Digitalization
  4. How Would a Digital Sales Platform Help My Manufacturing Business?
  5. Our Sales Digitalization Checklists
  6. Checklist 1: Ten Indicators Your Company Needs Sales Digitalization
  7. Checklist 2: How Can I Select a Digital Sales Platform That Best Suites My Needs?
  8. Checklist 3: Key Strengths Your Sales Platform Vendor Should Have
  9. Checklist 4: Preparing for the Implementation of Your Digital Sales Solution
  10. Recommendation 1: Prepare for now. Be ready for what is next.
  11. Recommendation 2: Look at the narrow but go wide
  12. Recommendation 3: Let your employees take the leadwith your customers in mind

 

Download Digital Sales Guide


Traditional vs Digital Sales Processes

The traditional and mostly manual sales process used to work well. Today, sales reps spend only 22% of their time actually selling because most of their time is spent on tedious, manual administrative work—answering questions that lead to more questions, gathering information from colleagues, preparing quotes, and losing track of sales progress.

 

In the manufacturing industry, a quote or an RFQ can take days or weeks to prepare. Sales reps spend a disproportionate amount of time selecting products, configuring solutions, internal clarifications and getting approvals from specialists. The list goes on.

 


With a fully digitalized sales process, B2B customers can experience an excellent customer journeyone that helps win deals and keeps them loyal. Here is a brief description of how it works.

 

The value of digitalizing manufacturing sales

 

In an end-to-end digital sales platform, data flows seamlessly back and forth between the front-end systems and back-end systems. In this setup, back-end systems hold critical data that powers the manufacturing business.

The Advantages of Digital Sales

Infographic: Advantages of digital sales for manufacturers

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How can your sales organization transform to meet these objectives? Download this Guide to "Accelerate Manufacturing Sales" to learn more offline!


Critical components of a Digital Sales Platform

Infographic: Critical components of a Digital Sales Platform for manufacturers

 

CPQ - Configuration, Pricing, and Quoting

Infobox: Elements of a digital sales platform for manufacturing - CPQ Configure-Price-Quote explainedA winning CPQ solution is tightly integrated with the back-end ERP. It puts every ounce of the business's manufacturing expertise and knowledge right at the fingertips of the sales team.

This approach empowers the sales team and other key stakeholders in your sales organization, including distributors, partners, and dealers. With the right CPQ solution, your sales force can build precise, deal-winning quotes faster than the competition—and win more customers.

CRM - Customer Relationship Management

Infobox: Elements of a digital sales platform for manufacturing - CRM Customer Relationship Management explainedAt its core, a CRM is used for managing contacts and customers. But as manufacturers drive more complex customer engagements, the need for manufacturing-focused CRM increases. Each customer has extensive data tied to their account, which means more data to manage—and more insights to observe.

 

For manufacturers, the real value comes from a CRM tied to an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), CPQ, and a Commerce solution or digital store. Critical customer engagement data—such as pricing, install-base, discounts—needs to flow through all systems.

 

Manufacturers need to make well-informed business decisions. Customers are always at the center of these considerations. A 360-degree customer view will help manage all relevant information and optimize offers and services at every touchpoint of the buyers' journey.

Commerce – E-Commerce, Dealer Portal or Digital Store

infobox: Elements of a digital sales platform for manufacturing - Commerce e-commerce explainedIn today's digital economy, an e-commerce storefront for products and services is a must-have—even for manufacturing companies. Having a unified storefront provides customers, partners, and dealers with 24/7 access to your business. The ideal B2B e-commerce platform connects centralized manufacturing knowledge to customers and turns complex products into easy-to-buy solutions.

It is easy, safe, and ensures the right restrictions are applied so that customers or distributors can access the products and services they need. Full integration with your ERP, CRM, and CPQ, can also prevent channel conflicts and all types of errors to guarantee the best possible buying experience.

Download Digital Sales Guide

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A holistic approach to digitalization

Best practices for an effective digital sales journey

 

A recurring topic in the manufacturing industry is complexity. Manufacturers need to manage a wide variety of factors before, during, and after production.

 

When external factors like the global economy (which affects labor or material costs) are added into the mix, manufacturers are looking at a substantial number of variables—each with the power to disrupt the business.

To manage this complexity, manufacturers are turning to digital solutions. During the COVID-19 pandemic, manufacturers fast-forwarded their digital strategy by years to cope with the situation. Many of them even implemented stop-gap digital measures.

 

During this period, research has shown that even these temporary digital implementations helped improve business outcomes.

 

Manufacturers encouraged by their initial wins are looking to make temporary digital measures permanent. However, it is vital to note that the best approach to digital transformation is still a holistic one—albeit at a faster pace.

 

To accelerate digitalization, manufacturers can start with digitalizing complete processes that cuts across multiple business units instead of single measures that solve siloed problems.

 

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Start with digitalizing the sales process

One of the most critical parts in manufacturing business success is the sales process. According to research, businesses—not just in manufacturing—stand to gain substantially by adapting digital sales. Your customers expect digital solutions.

 

Why digitalize the manufacturing sales process? 

Managing incoming disruptions aside, the case for end-to-end digital sales in your manufacturing is clear. It unlocks new growth potential and sets a solid foundation for future digitalization efforts.

 

Digitalize sales to enable more growth opportunities

Infographic: Why manufacturers should invest in digital sales - growth opportunities

Download Digital Sales Guide

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CPQ: The foundation of a successful end-to-end sales process

Sales digitalization is a straightforward strategy. However, manufacturers need to note that it should revolve around a robust CPQ system. CPQ technology has been around for years.

 

However, recent innovation has modernized CPQ software and turned it into a “must-have” software for any business that generates complex quotes.

 

It is used in nearly every industry, from insurance to retail. Any business with a wide range of products can benefit from CPQ technology. However, each sector or vertical deploys CPQ differently.

 

How does a manufacturing CPQ work? 

Infographic: How does a CPQ work for manufacturers

 

In manufacturing, a CPQ solution is a perfect fit. It is commonly used to manage the considerable number of product variations, production factors, and configurations that can confound even the most seasoned sales leaders.

 

The sheer variety of factors involved means your sales staff are often stuck retrieving updated costs and prices and correcting quote errors—otherwise known as drowning in information and Excel sheets.

 

However, with a manufacturing CPQ, product, supply chain, engineering knowledge, and content can be extracted from your ERP in real-time and delivered instantly to where it is needed. It turns the tedious administrative tasks sales reps face into a simplified point-and-click operation.

 

Think of the neat integration between your CPQ and ERP as a two-way street. It gets critical information from your ERP, but at the same time, new data created through your configuration, pricing, and costing is used to update your ERP. It is a win-win situation for your front-end operations, your back-end processes, and through to production.

 

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How would a Digital Sales Platform improve my manufacturing business?

CPQ is the lynchpin of a robust digital sales platform. With a CPQ, you can use real-time information from your ERP to accelerate the sales process and guarantee the most relevant, individualized offers for each customer.

 

How to meet your customers' expectations?

 

It intelligently uses the most updated costs, prices, catalogs, variation options and presents it in an instantly intuitive user interface for sales, engineering, marketing, finance, dealers, and distributors.

 

Instead of a complex web of options and data (or worse, spreadsheets), your client-facing employees can identify the most profitable opportunities (CRM) and instantly act on them with accurate quotes for complicated products and solutions (CPQ) in a few clicks.

 

With an always-available digital storefront (e-commerce), your customers can easily access the necessary information and buy immediately.

 

Your sales platform's ability to accelerate, streamline, and organize your extraordinarily complex manufacturing sales process makes it indispensable to your business. The amount of time your sales reps save with fast opportunity identification, 100% accurate quotes, and self-serve buying, lets sales focus on one thing—selling.

 

In times of slim margins for manufacturers, every deal counts. By streamlining the entire sales process, you will optimize your operations and eliminate margin reducing inefficiencies.

 

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A comprehensive Digital Sales Platform helps you meet customer expectations

Infographic: How can a digital sales platform help manufacturing businesses

Download Digital Sales Guide

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Sales Digitalization Checklists

Manufacturing sales is challenging. Sales teams are under pressure to deliver the most accurate, profitable, and professional sales quotes while eliminating errors and inefficiencies. Your products and services can also be incredibly complex—and this complexity inevitably ends up in your sales process, further delaying deal closures and eating up margins.

 

Manufacturing Sales Challenges

Infographic: Top 3 Manufacturing Sales Challenges

 

Your customers’ expectations are also on the rise, adding to your business’s pressure. People’s positive experience with B2C sales increases their expectations so they demand the same speed, convenience, and accuracy in the B2B world.

 

So how can your manufacturing business meet their expectations?

 

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Checklist 1: Ten indicators that your business needs sales digitalization

1. Complex product configurations affect your margins

New call-to-actionThe number of products, components, parts, materials, finishes, or any other manufacturing processes in your Bill of Materials is significant. The larger it is, the more help your sales team needs to configure products.

 

A CPQ’s intelligent automation simplifies the configuration process. The potential time and cost-of-sales you save adds up—and will be reflected in your margins. With an integrated CRM, you can also quickly recognize high margin offers and prioritize your sales activities accordingly.

 

2. Sales need accurate ERP data like pricing and product information

The accuracy of your proposals plays a significant role in winning deals and keeping them profitable. With an accurate proposal, your sales teams can shorten the sales cycle and avoid unnecessary correction costs.

 

A manufacturing focused CPQ is tightly integrated with your ERP. It processes critical ERP data with tools—like a costing and pricing engine that re-calculates margins based on fluctuating material costs or machine rates—to help sales generate error-free proposals.

 

Your commerce storefront should always reflect current prices according to the correct region, currency or the respective portal user status so that customers can buy with confidence.

 

3. Approval regulations are prolonging your sales cycle and killing deals

Workflows and approvals are there to protect quote accuracy. But they can prolong the sales cycle, or worse, kill deals. Unnecessary approvals can be avoided if triggers are set for error-prone steps of the quotation process.

 

For example, not every configuration requires approval by engineering. With a digital sales platform, you get a smart sales collaboration tool that can automatically set up and route approvals to accelerate this process.

 

4. Actual production costs reduce projected margins

In manufacturing, engineering-to-order (ETO) or made-to-order (MTO) scenarios lead to costing complexity. Actual product margins are difficult to get right as costs are estimated and do not reflect actual figures.

 

Introducing a CPQ here would ensure your sales team provides quotes aligned with actual production costs and generates the most profitable margins, so you never lose out on a deal.

 

5. You are losing lucrative deals to faster, more agile competitors

The traditional methods of generating quotes can be tedious and lengthy. It is a process that includes getting data from multiple sources and the back end. Add in price negotiations by customers, change requirements, human error, and the entire process can stretch into months.

 

A CPQ solution eliminates these bottlenecks and can reduce your Time-to-Quote (TTQ) by up to 40%. An integrated CRM also helps you to keep track of your sales opportunities so that you can quote fast and win the best-fit and most lucrative projects.

 

6. Updating sales with promotions and price changes is slow

Fast execution is critical in the digital economy. Being able to introduce promotions and change prices on the fly quickly is essential. It can help you match the competition or stay ahead of price fluctuations, keeping your business competitive and profitable.

 

A CPQ solution supports the quick updates you need, ensuring changes and new promotions are available immediately to your sales force.

 

7. Your Time-to-Market cannot keep up with market demand

In the engineering or high-tech industry, time-to-market can make or break your business. The new products your business produces may not be on your sales team's radar fast enough and can be left out of critical proposals.

 

You lose potentially important deals, innovation leadership and possibly even endanger your market leadership. With a CPQ, your innovations are instantly in front of your sales reps.

 

They can also be quickly modified or configured, and added to the latest proposals in minutes, or instantly featured in your Commerce Storefront.

 

8. Up-sell and cross-sell opportunities are rare revenue opportunities

In the manufacturing industry, up-selling and cross-selling can upsize deals by up to 30%. But the reality is that they are rare.

 

However, a highly functional CPQ for manufacturing can help speed up the entire RFQ process and suggest smart up- and cross-selling opportunities. These can easily be added and, thanks to the accuracy of fit, increase customer satisfaction as well as deal margins.

 

In your commerce system, additional products or after-sales services are offered directly with the product selection or in the shopping cart, thus increasing the order value. By offering additional customer services, you can also achieve greater customer loyalty.

 

9. Inaccurate order creations in the ERP are causing unnecessary losses

In MTO and ETO businesses, BOMs can include hundreds of new items that are not in your ERP when a quote is created. When a customer accepts your proposals, these items must be added manually into your ERP—a massive source of errors.

 

An advanced CPQ, one that is deeply integrated with your back-end, automates this long and tedious step. With just one push of a button, new materials or products are created in the ERP. The risk of faulty productions is also reduced drastically.

 

10. Aggressive discounts by sales reps are eating into your margins

Your salespeople are here to sell. The complexity of product variations, configurations and the associated margins are obscured. Salespeople also often use aggressive discounts to close deals.

 

If these trade-offs endanger profitability, there is an urgent need to create more margin and deal transparency. A CPQ solution prevents excessive discounting by using rules that automatically calculate discounts to maintain healthy margins.

 

At the same time, the CPQ helps sales staff create convincing offers that highlight unique selling points and present cost breakdowns in a customer-friendly manner. Integrating a CRM can help sales teams identify critical deals and provide much needed support with difficult offers.

 

A Commerce solution with a tightly integrated CPQ can also automatically apply discounts based on regions, partner status, or accounts.

 

Manufacturing sales challenges 

Infographic: Complex products lead to more manufacturing sales challenges

Download the Checklist

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Checklist 2: How can I select a Digital Sales Platform that best suits my needs

Sales automation solutions have been around for a few years now. The market currently offers solutions for nearly all industries, company sizes, and business models. However, a digital sales solution is not so straightforward. Some companies specialize in only one or two of the critical elements of a successful sales solution.

 

A holistic, modular and scalable platform gives you the flexibility to close digital gaps based on your current requirements and at the same time keep the focus on the complete digitization of sales.

 

Download the Checklist: How can I select a Digital Sales Platform that best suits my needs

As a start, manufacturers should look for solutions that are proven—and even certified—in terms of integration. The platform should be able to integrate with your ERP and each of your data sources seamlessly.

 

To start your evaluation, you need to make some critical considerations to understand what a best-match solution means to your business. We have compiled all the important criteria for your evaluation for you.

 

Key considerations you need to make:

1. Cloud or on-premise?

Many businesses, including manufacturers, are still adamant about keeping their software on-premise. Some may be considering a hybrid cloud approach due to the use of legacy systems. But in recent years, the scale has tipped in favor of cloud-based solutions.

 

Solutions built in the cloud are modular, extensible (scalable), and can bring together data and processes from different applications in a loosely coupled but tightly integrated fashion. Truly cloud-native platforms (not just built in the cloud, but fully utilizes the services a cloud platform offers) let you start fast and scale just as quickly.

 

With the cloud, the burden (and costs)—of implementation, hardware, talent, security, backup, updates, and more—is lifted from your IT team and CIO. That frees up IT, allowing them to focus on improving your overall business processes in the age of Industry 4.0—a critical business differentiator.

 

2. Big tech or purpose-built?

Big technology companies often offer best-of-breed sales solutions but are general-purpose in nature. With general-purpose solutions, manufacturers often spend enormous resources on implementation or consultants to add manufacturing-focused functions or features.


That is because your digital journey is different. Your vast catalog and billions of configurations need to be acknowledged by a system built to handle a manufacturer's complexity without costly customization or middle-ware.


Purpose-built software is also designed to scale with your business. It is especially true with cloud-based software that can integrate seamlessly with existing and future manufacturing business applications.

 

3. What are your minimum viable product capabilities? 

When you go with a purpose-built sales solution, you can keep costs under control and meet the desired TCO (total cost of ownership) outcomes. A manufacturing-focused digital sales solution can manage the complexity of extensive product variants, fluctuating costs, or prices.


In B2B manufacturing, your pricing and order management can also get extremely complicated. It can come in numerous variants, from 100% self-serve to 100% sales supported—and everything in between. All of these scenarios should be seamlessly supported by your sales platform.


Regardless, critical components like your CRM, CPQ, and E-Commerce should work seamlessly with each other. And, more importantly, be tightly integrated with your back-office ERP and manufacturing systems. This approach equips your sales team with the most accurate product information (costs, prices, margins, etc.) in real-time.

Download the Checklist

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Checklist 3: Key strengths your sales platform vendor should have

 

Today, finding a reliable enterprise software vendor is much easier than before. Peer-review platforms like G2 give B2B buyers a chance to obtain candid feedback from actual software users before they buy.

 

Here are some considerations you need to make when looking for a manufacturing-focused sales platform vendor.

 

1. Manufacturing expertise and focus

Download the Checklist: Key strengths your sales platform vendor should have

A software company's pedigree can be a crucial indicator of its performance. A team that comprises industry veterans would understand your business challenges. Naturally, they would also know how to solve those challenges.

 

When considering a software vendor, you should also see if their focus aligns with your business. If it does, you can be sure that the vendor is well-equipped to meet your unique manufacturing needs.

 

A vendor with various manufacturing clients would also have the in-depth knowledge and experience about manufacturing processes needed to offer a CPQ, CRM, and Commerce solution that matches your business needs. Vendors with industry expertise will also provide "accelerators" that ensure the best time-to-value.

 

2. Business models supported by the vendor

The manufacturing sector has various verticals. Within these verticals, there are several business models, such as engineering-to-order, configure-to-order, or manufacturing-as-a-service.

 

Each of these models requires a digital sales platform that serves the specific needs of the adhering processes. Your solution vendor needs to know function similarities (to save time and costs by using existing functions) and differences (to ensure the necessary functions are available).

 

Vendors with clients from various verticals within the manufacturing industry will quickly meet this requirement.

 

3. Ease of integration with back-end

In manufacturing, sales processes can get complicated. It is why general-purpose solutions can take longer to implement and have higher chances of failing. With an end-to-end solution, manufacturers can start digitalizing sales with a CRM, CPQ, or Commerce solution customized to their specific integration needs.

 

Regardless of the business model and IT environment setup (LO-VC, external costing, hybrid configuration and pricing models, etc.), manufacturers can get their existing systems integrated and run their fully digital sales process with just a few tweaks.

 

Vendors certified to integrate seamlessly with your existing platforms (via APIs & connectors) will be able to connect your new CPQ, CRM, and Commerce system to your backend quickly and deliver the desired end-to-end process support.

 

4. Flexibility to fit your digitalization journey

Your organization's digitalization journey is unique. Vendors that offer a modular approach can give you the specific manufacturing functions and features in your sales solution in a cost-efficient way that matches your timeline and grows with your needs.

 

Modular solutions can be easily configured to fit your integration scenarios, simplify complex sales processes, or be customized beyond the standard use cases mentioned.

 

Vendors that offer a full sales digitalization suite that covers an entire end-to-end process and is tightly integrated with your production and engineering data. It can save you the trouble of costly middle-ware in the long run—helping you keep total-cost-of-ownership low and drive a high ROI.

 

5. Powerful manufacturing-focused features

Most sales solutions have a standard set of features. For a CPQ, this would be the classic product configuration, pricing, and quote management. A CRM would cover contact and account management, sometimes enriched with marketing functionalities and even social media tracking.

 

Generic commerce solutions often focus on website integration and the functionalities around a classic B2C shopping experience. However, sales solutions built for manufacturing come with enhancements that consider your business complexity.

 

A CPQ should support different manufacturing models like Make-to-Stock, Engineer-to-Order, or Configure-to-Order models, for example. Other features like Dynamic Solution Visualization, interactive maps, or full integration for CAD formats help you ensure maximum accuracy in either quotation or production and 100% need-to-product matches.

 

An intelligent material, process, and cost simulation powered by a deep ERP integration are just as valuable as a detailed 3D image in a commerce storefront.

 

And a 360-degree customer view throughout the entire customer journey incorporating previous customer projects and install base will ensure that you can close deals while keeping an eye on future customer and market demands.

 

6. Ease of use and facilitation of collaboration 

Getting a powerful sales platform is just half the story. If your sales teams, engineering experts, partners, and distributors cannot figure out how it can solve their problems, they will not use it.

 

To ensure high adoption rates and accelerate user onboarding, your sales solution must be easy to use and maintain. Intuitive design is vitalA well-designed sales platform built for manufacturing will also include key collaboration workflows and tools to support your unique manufacturing use cases.

 

In manufacturing, customer engagement involves several stakeholders and departments. With built-in collaboration and management tools, and in-depth reports, your sales organization becomes streamlined, faster, and more effective 

 

7. Industry-leading clients and peer reviews

Besides a business or industry fit, vendor reliability also needs to be a significant consideration. Reliable vendors, regardless of size, are trusted by their clients if they manage to deliver excellence.

 

To get a clearer picture of how well a vendor fits your business, you can look at their client list—the more industry names you recognize, the better. New peer-review platforms like G2 also help to shorten vendor research.

 

These platforms have stringent verification, so you read only validated reviews of real-life customers. It can help you get a clearer picture of potential vendors—how satisfied their customers are, how much they cost, and their commitment to their clients' success.

 

8. Vendor revenue outlook and growth potential

Today, the CPQ market alone is valued at USD 254.8 million. Analysts expect it to reach almost US $900 million by 2025. That means CPQ is a must-have digital solution, and its growth potential is tremendous.

 

If your vendor has a prominent blue-chip client list, there is a good chance that they will continue to serve the market for many years to come.

Besides a vendor's track record, you can also search for published news regarding their financial health. A company with substantial funding from investors indicates highly positive global market potential.

 

It also means they are more likely to invest resources into ensuring the highest performance and service quality.

 

9. Vendor commitment to customer success

In B2B, the customer success team represents the vendor's commitment to your business. They are the ones to help you achieve the best business outcomes through their platform.

 

Besides resolving technical issues, a good customer success team also engages in strategic discussions, roadmap reviews, or guided walkthroughs to help you maximize the use of your sales platform. In short, your success is a top priority.

 

The ideal customer success team is proactive in ensuring your implementation and usage of the software is smooth, effective, and frustration-free.

 

That includes frequent updates, a dedicated customer success manager, support for specific interfaces, a clear product roadmap, and other areas that guarantee a first-class experience.

 

10. Approach to security and business disruption

The manufacturing sector is vulnerable to attacks. A single computer virus can bring production to a halt and cause millions in damage. For large manufacturers, it can be a crippling blow—for smaller ones, a nail in the coffin.

 

That is why your vendor's approach to security is critical. Cloud-native software vendors have a distinct advantage in terms of security.

The cloud computing platform used can have sophisticated enterprise-grade security tools built-in. Vendors that use leading security tools and validated best practices also provide you with additional protection against cyberthreats.

 

Some vendors offer a suite of solutions that improves your security posture by covering your end-to-end business processes.

Download the Checklist

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Checklist 4: Preparing for the implementation of your Digital Sales Solution

Your digital sales solution is there to help you turn your business's complexity into a desired commercial outcome. While it simplifies processes, it remains an extraordinarily complex technology. A digital solution that works well has several implications for your sales teams. For the best results, your implementation strategy must be clear.

 

1. Create a coherent implementation plan

Download the Checklist: Preparing for the implementation of your Digital Sales SolutionWithout a consistent plan, your implementation process will be longer than it should be—and end up costing you more. Before you start implementing a digital solution, you can develop a roadmap of your business goals and desired outcomes—in the best case, your vendor consults you and incorporates best-practices from your industry.

 

2. Review and benchmark current practices

Review and document the current sales process steps. It can give you a reference point to benchmark your new digital sales solution and find out if it can deliver the business outcomes you expect—or if there are gaps that need to be addressed.

 

It can also help your vendor accelerate the implementation process while ensuring the most relevant sales processes are prioritized in your digitalization journey.

 

3. Perform ERP data cleansing and maintenance

Your sales platform needs clean, precise, up-to-date data to function at optimum levels. Maintaining your ERP should be a priority before implementing any sales solution. Ideally, it should be performed internally instead of leaving it to your ERP vendor.

 

Doing so will minimize complications when the solution is in use. The ideal sales platform will allow you to either reuse, for example, cost, price, and configuration models or re-create them through their interface.

 

4. Alignment between business and IT

The alignment between IT and business is a process—not a goal. Before implementing your sales platform, IT needs to be clear on the business outcomes the solution needs to achieve.

 

On the flipside, business users also need to know the limitations of your CRM, CPQ, and Commerce solutions. Without proper alignment, your implementation can be stretched out due to requirements coming in after implementation.

 

5. Ensure consistency in product modeling

To prepare for a new CPQ solution, businesses need to ensure that their product modeling methods are standardized. Leading manufacturing CPQ software are flexible enough to allow several ways of product modeling and usage within the CPQ.

 

However, you should ensure that each business unit uses the same methods or the same software (for example Excel or the modelling capabilities within your CPQ) to keep your new CPQ solution free from errors.

 

6. Implement a system of accountability

Implementation of a sales solution is just like any other IT project. Its success is dependent on key team members driving it. To ensure success, you need to define project objectives and the people accountable for these objectives clearly.

 

Conduct frequent check-ins to assess the implementation's progress and if it meets pre-defined key performance indicators.

 

7. Customer excellence is the goal

Your reason for onboarding a digital sales platform is unique to your business. It could be to ensure profitable margins, faster time-to-market, or an increase in market share or customer lifetime value. Regardless of the business reason, there is only one goal—customer excellence.

 

This approach can help align upper management and the team responsible for implementation. Every decision made during this time needs to ensure happy customers—after all, they are driving your business.

Download the Checklist

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Recommendation 1: Prepared for now. Ready for what is next.

Conventional wisdom tells us that improvement starts one step at a time. With a flexible, modular Digital Sales Platform, you can take this approach if you start with a holistic view of the outcomes. However, this approach was conceptualized with stability in mind.

 

In unconventional times, you need to take unconventional measures.

 

When you onboard a digital sales platform, improvements can cut across the entire business. Your business runs best when all parts are in sync. So why should digitalization happen in siloes?

 

Two-thirds of digital transformations fail or are unsustainable. The ones that work are those that break through silos with an end-to-end model.

At In Mind Cloud, we recognize that change is hard. It can be downright painful. But it is necessary if your manufacturing business is to survive the next global challenge. As the old saying goes, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

 

But with the sales process being your business revenue engine and global digitalization progressing at a rapid pace, you will not want to wait until it does.

 

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Recommendation 2: Look at the narrow but go wide

Your sales process seems to be working well—on the surface, at least. To start digitalizing it, you need to examine each part of the process to identify the gaps and room for improvement.

Questions to identify gaps

  • Does your sales team take weeks or even months to prepare a quote?
  • Do you have little to no visibility into the pipeline for the foreseeable future?
  • Do your customers leave because there is no way to buy from you quickly?

 

These are just some of the basic questions you need to ask yourself and your sales teams. And when you ask the hard questions, some hard problems will surface.

 

But as a business leader, you also need to take a step back to consider the implications of fixing these problems. That is when you can see that your only option is to go wide and address the entire process instead of an isolated or immediate concern.

 

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Recommendation 3: Let your employees take the lead—with your customers in mind

Your employees are the ones using what you implement, and they are dealing with customer problems every day. With that in mind, management should take a step back and provide them with the right goals and direction.

 

Let your employees lead the way in building what works for them and your customer.

 

When they take ownership, they are also more likely to fully adopt your new digital sales platform to help you leverage the full benefits of the solution and drive the expected ROI.

 

Encouraging or even celebrating employee involvement in crucial processes such as sales digitalization will help you nurture problem-solvers that will pave the way for your business during the digital transformation journey.

 

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Download the Complete Guide to Accelerate Manufacturing Sales

It is time to accelerate your digital sales transformation with a partner you can trust. Get the complete guide on how to jumpstart your digitalization with CPQ, CRM, and Commerce to find out more. Download it now!

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Leo Boon Yeow

Written by Leo Boon Yeow

Boon Yeow – is passionate about all things tech. His background as a journalist helps him understand complex B2B technology. His mission is to translate it into fact-based, comprehensible stories that help manufacturers do business better.

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